Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat may have accidentally hinted about who his successors in Parliament yesterday.
The Minister had been responding to a question by Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim on the education system in Singapore, when he said:
“Then on your point about science and the PISA score and the students, now we’re not saying that we have a perfect education system. In fact there are many things which I’m very happy that Minister Ng Chee Meng and Minister Ong Ye Kung are continuing to do building on the works of previous finance minister to continue to raise the-“
At this point, people in the chamber began whispering “education minister” when Heng realises his error and corrects himself with a laugh: “…sorry? Education Minister, sorry. Did I say Finance? Oh ok (Laughs).”
Most people around Heng begin laughing at this time and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin even quips off-screen: “Same person.”
While Heng’s comment could very well have been a slip of the tongue, some think that he accidentally signalled who his successors might be when there is a cabinet reshuffle after Parliament goes on a mid-term break.
The Straits Times‘s Yuen Sin was one such individual who thought Heng’s slip was a slip-up She said, “Could this be an indication of the future portfolios that the two ministers — identified as core members of Singapore’s fourth-generation leadership — would take up when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reshuffles the Cabinet this year?”
The upcoming cabinet reshuffle is designated to give younger ministers more exposure and responsibilities so that they can better support the next Prime Minister.
PM Lee revealed this in a Facebook post earlier this week but did not give any indication on when exactly he will select his successor, even amid increasing anticipation.
Heng Swee Keat is believed to be one of the frontrunners to succeed the Prime Minister, himself.