SINGAPORE — Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is the best person to take over as Singapore’s prime minister as he has “exceptional ability” and the confidence of the 4G team, said outgoing Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Tuesday (23 April).
Heng will become Deputy PM on 1 May as part of a Cabinet reshuffle announced earlier Tuesday by PM Lee Hsien Loong. He will remain as Minister for Finance, and continue to chair the Future Economy Council and National Research Foundation.
Tharman, who will assume the post of Senior Minister along with outgoing DPM Teo Chee Hean on 1 May, was previously seen as a leading contender for the PM post. In a poll commissioned by Yahoo News Singapore in 2016, Tharman was the clear favourite of Singaporeans to be the next PM.
In a post on his Facebook page, Tharman said, “We have avoided sudden change. It may be unexciting and predictable, but it works for Singapore.”
Tharman said that while he and other senior leaders will provide support to Heng and the 4G team, the latter group must “carve their own way” as leaders and progressively leave their imprint.
Citing the changing views and aspirations of Singaporeans, coupled with a less predictable world, he added that the 4G leaders will have to deal with these challenges.
“Our 4G leadership will have to keep their ears close to the ground, stay open to new ideas and initiatives, and keep evolving our strategies to keep our society inclusive and vibrant. So that they retain the trust of Singaporeans and lead the country with confidence,” said Tharman.
Stressing that none of the ministers is perfect, he concluded, “Our system of political renewal in government only succeeds if we complement each other and play as a team, work with Singaporeans, and never let success get to our heads or assume that all that worked in the past will work in the future.”
In a post of his Facebook page, Heng said that he was honoured by PM Lee’s trust, and that he and his colleagues will do their very best to serve Singapore and Singaporeans. He also expressed gratitude that DPMs Tharman and Teo will stay on to “share their wisdom”.