Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s recent appointment as the first assistant secretary-general of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) catapulted him to the position of the top candidate expected to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as Singapore’s fourth head of government.
Interest in PM Lee’s successor has remained a hot topic, especially after the PM announced in recent years that he would step down some time after the next general election, which could be held as early as this year.
Heng jumped ahead of fellow PM frontrunner as the candidate tipped to succeed PM Lee, when he was appointed as the PAP’s first assistant secretary-general. A Blackbox survey published after Heng’s appointment, however, showed that only 59 per cent of Singaporeans have a positive impression of him.
19 per cent of Singaporeans told Blackbox that they have a “very positive” impression of Heng while 40 per cent of individuals said they see Heng in a “quite positive” light.
Six per cent of Singaporeans said that they view Heng very negatively, while another 11 per cent said they had a “quite negative” impression of him.
2 per cent said that they had never heard of Heng Swee Keat while the remaining 22 per cent said that they have yet to form an opinion about him.
The survey further reported that “three in five Singaporeans are confident that Heng Swee Keat has what it takes to be the next Prime Minister.” This group of people cite Heng’s experience, economic credentials, his calm demeanor and his intelligence among the reasons why they think he is fit for the top job:
The survey added that “17% of Singaporeans have still not made up their mind whether Heng Swee Keat should be the next Prime Minister or not” and that “this figure is more than double (36%) for those aged between 15-24 years old.”
Most of those who have doubts about whether Heng would make a good PM cite his health status and medical history as the reason for their uncertainty. Others said that Heng’s charisma levels, understanding of ordinary folks, and decisiveness make them doubtful:
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