Since Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has been appointed First Assistant Secretary General of ruling party People’s Action Party (PAP), making him heir presumptive to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
As the country approaches the next General Election, which is required to take place before January 2021, a final cabinet shuffle is expected to occur in the coming months.
Analysts are saying that since he is expected to lead the country into its next phase, Heng Swee Keat may well be the primary figure who will bring the next cabinet together.
Speaking in a video posted by Channel NewsAsia, National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Dr. Gillan Goh, the Deputy Director of the Institute of Policy Studies, says “Heng Swee Keat has the confidence not just to be the First Assistant Secretary-General, but is in line to be the Secretary-General, and ultimately, the Prime Minister of Singapore.”
“So the next cabinet reshuffle will probably be very much determined by how Heng Swee Keat wants to place his team, place the talents that he has, place the people with various experiences, and also, kind of stretch them.”
PM Lee Hsien Loong said that the coming cabinet reshuffle would likely take place after next year’s budget announcement and debate, usually held in February and March.
Another analyst, Singapore Management University’s Associate Professor Eugene Tan says, “April 2019 could be a good time. That also follows the budget. That will also enable a minister that’s going into a new portfolio, to start afresh, in terms of rolling out the ministry’s policies and plans.”
However, some believe that no major changes are forthcoming.
Dr. Goh opines, “It is not likely that there will be reshuffles in ministries where you already have the new set in place. Let’s just say Mrs. Josephine Teo has just gotten into the Ministry of Manpower, and of course, Mr. Chan Chun Sing has just stepped into the Ministry of Trade and Industry.”
Some ministers from the older generation may likely remain in place.
She added, “I think in the reshuffle, you will see the 3G leaders there, and they are also providing tutelage to the 4G leaders.”
Associate Professor Tan believes that Wan Boon Kaw, the Transport Minister, is likely to stay in his position as he continues to tackle the problems that have beset the Transport sector.
Dr. Goh also thinks that the cabinet will show greater diversity, citing Grace Fu and Josephine Teo, and wondered if Indranee Rajah will be given the opportunity to head a ministry as well.
Read related: Ong for Defense, Grace Fu for Foreign Affairs, Indranee for Education? Analysts predict possibilities for next cabinet reshuffle