While many Singaporeans greeted the news that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has been appointed first assistant secretary-general of ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), concerns about Heng’s health also surfaced, given the fact that he suffered a stroke two and a half years ago, in May 2016.
On November 23, Friday, the same day that his appointment was announced, he sought to assure everyone of his condition, saying, “I have made very good recovery, my doctors have given me a clean bill of health. At my latest medical check, the results were even better than before. I have lost a bit of weight, but that’s because I’m fitter now,” at a press conference in PAP headquarters in New Upper Changi Road.
Members of the press quizzed him about his health, and the Finance Minister answered them directly.
“I would not have taken up this appointment if I did not have the confidence that my health allowed me to do it.
I consulted my doctors, looked at the medical reports as well as (knew) my own energy level.”
In May 2016, while in a Cabinet meeting, Heng had a brain aneurysm and collapsed. He recovered after several months.
However, since his recovery, Heng has been able to travel abroad, twice to Argentina. And he is getting ready for his next trip to the G20 summit meeting in the coming week, with every trip lasting around 30 hours.
Heng said that he is traveling more now that when he was the managing director of MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore).
Furthermore, the new first assistant secretary-general of PAP said that his health scare has made him more determined than ever to serve the country.
“This life-and-death episode has strengthened my commitment to serve Singaporeans,” he said at the press conference.
When the media asked him about his style of leadership, he had this to say: “My own sense is I’m very open, I listen to all views, and I decide what needs to be done. When it’s important enough, we’ll be fast and decisive about it, just like what I did during the Global Financial Crisis (in 2008 and 2009), because every minute of delay means far greater risk.”
Heng also said that how effective he is can best be answered by the people he has worked with in his 30 years of service.