DPM Heng Swee Keat steps aside as leader of 4G team, 'setback for succession planning'

SINGAPORE - JULY 08:  East Coast Group Representation Constituency People's Action Party candidate and Singapore Deputy Prime Minister, Heng Swee Keat, speaks to reporters during a campaign walkabout ahead of the general election on July 8, 2020 in Singapore. Singapore will go to the polls on July 10 as the ruling party, the People's Action Party, seeks a fresh mandate amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As of July 7, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country stands at 45,140.  (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
DPM Heng Swee Keat speaks to reporters during a campaign walkabout ahead of the general election on July 8, 2020 in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images) (Suhaimi Abdullah via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Singapore Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat has informed the Ministers of his intentions to stand aside as leader of the 4G team, Singapore's fourth-generation leaders said on Thursday (8 April).

Heng will remain as DPM and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, and step down as Finance Minister.

Minister Gan Kim Yong as PAP Chairman chaired a meeting of all the Ministers, Senior Ministers of State and Ministers of State, as well as Speaker and the Secretary-General of the NTUC, less PM Lee Hsien Loong, DPM Heng and the two Senior Ministers and issued the following statement:


"1. We respect and accept DPM Heng Swee Keat’s decision to stand aside as the leader of the 4G team. We appreciate what a difficult decision it must have been. But no one could have foreseen the disruption of COVID-19, the great uncertainty it has created, and its long-lasting impact. We know that he has made the decision with Singapore’s long-term interests at heart.

2. Over the past two years since he was appointed as DPM, Mr Heng has played a critical role in leading key initiatives of the Government – championing the Singapore Together movement, guiding our national R&D and economic restructuring efforts, and delivering five budgets in twelve months to protect lives and livelihoods in the midst of a global pandemic. Believing in the collective strength of our people, he has engaged individuals, communities and groups widely, and enabled their active participation in improving our economy and society.

3. We are glad that DPM Heng will remain a member of our team, and will continue in his roles as DPM and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies. We have all benefitted from his experience and expertise, and we look forward to his continued advice and contributions as we navigate our recovery and chart Singapore’s path forward.

4. Tackling Singapore’s pressing immediate challenges and ensuring that Singapore emerges stronger from this crisis remains our foremost priority. Under these circumstances, the 4G team will need more time to select another leader from amongst us. We have therefore requested PM Lee Hsien Loong to stay on as Prime Minister until such time when a new successor is chosen by the team and is ready to take over. We are grateful that PM has agreed to our request.

5. This unexpected turn of events is a setback for our succession planning. We recognise that Singaporeans will be concerned. We seek your support and understanding, as we choose another leader for the team. We will continue working as a team to serve our people, and to earn the confidence and trust of all Singaporeans."

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