SINGAPORE -- After nearly 14 years at the country's helm, Goh Chok Tong has announced that he will step down as Singapore's prime minister on Aug. 12. Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will become the nation's third prime minister since it gained independence in 1965. It is believed that Goh will remain in the Cabinet, probably as a senior minister, just as Goh's predecessor (and Lee Hsien Loong's father) Lee Kuan Yew has done.

Singapore's three main social stratas -- the young professionals/elites, the blue-collar workers and the middle class -- have differing expectations of Lee.

The political transition also represents a major challenge to the republic's drive for greater creativity, social redistribution and tolerance. Singapore must meet these three challenges if it is to compete with emerging Asian giants China and India for export and services markets, as well as maintain harmony in its multiethnic and multireligious society.