Singapore — In a letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday (Apr 8), Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat announced his decision to step aside as leader of the People’s Action Party’s fourth-generation (4G) team.
This means that Mr Heng will no longer be the one to lead the country when PM Lee retires. Citing reasons such as the long-term and profound challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, his age, and the demands of the top job, Mr Heng said that this year he turns 60.
“But when I also consider the ages at which our first three prime ministers took on the job, I would have too short a runway should I become the next prime minister then. We need a leader who will not only rebuild Singapore post-Covid-19, but also lead the next phase of our nation-building effort”, he wrote.
Mr Heng added that he stands ready to support the next leader that the 4G team chooses.
According to a Straits Times Online report, Mr Heng is to stay on in the Cabinet as DPM and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies. He will relinquish his finance portfolio when a Cabinet reshuffle takes place in about two weeks’ time. Mr Heng will also remain the PAP’s first assistant secretary-general.
Veteran journalist and author of the book, Reluctant Editor: The Singapore Media as Seen Through the Eyes of a Veteran Newspaper Journalist P.N. Balji weighs in on the issue: “Heng’s decision at this late stage to step aside is a blow to SG’s well-choreographed political succession.
The previous two successions have gone on smoothly. This time, it has gone haywire throwing the decision about who will be the next PM in chaos”.
When asked for his thoughts on the next Prime Minister, Mr Balji cited the current minister for trade and industry and minister-in-charge of public service: “The next PM? CCS will be a strong contender as he has been in the limelight for a long time”.
In light of the situation, the 4G team requested that PM Lee stay on as Prime Minister until a new successor has been chosen.
“I do not want to take on any job which I cannot deliver. As those of you who have worked with me know, I am a workaholic. I put my heart and soul into what I do. And therefore, I’ve been thinking about… whether, am I the right person?” said Mr Heng. /TISGFollow us on Social Media
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