Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has been appointed as the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) first assistant secretary general, following a meeting of the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) on Friday (23 November).
The 57-year-old is now considered the prime candidate to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing has also been appointed as the second assistant secretary general, while Health Minister Gan Kim Yong is now party chairman, said the PAP in a statement.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was also considered a leading contender to be Singapore’s next PM, will be assistant treasurer. Meanwhile, an additional four members were co-opted into the CEC: Desmond Lee, Lawrence Wong, Christopher De Souza and Sitoh Yih Pin.
In a post on the PAP Facebook page, PM Lee said he supports the decision of the 4G leaders. “I have known and worked with Swee Keat and Chun Sing for some years now, and watched them grow in their different responsibilities. They have complementary strengths, and make a strong pairing.
“I am confident that they will continue to grow in experience and touch, and steadily win the confidence and trust of Singaporeans.”
Heng, a former Education Minister, is thought to be the most experienced of the fourth generation leaders. He entered politics in 2011 and is a Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC.
The father of two began his career in the Singapore Police Force and was later managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Heng also served as Principal Private Secretary to the late Lee Kuan Yew in 1997.
In May 2016, Heng collapsed from a stroke during a Cabinet meeting. He was discharged from hospital after six weeks and resumed his duties as Finance Minister in August.