Industry Insights

DPM Heng Swee Keat steps aside as leader of the PAP 4G team, PM Lee accepts the decision

Posted on 9/04/2021 by Paula Formantes


On Thursday, 8th April 2021, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced that he will step down as the leader of the People’s Action Party (PAP) leadership team.

His concerns are how he would be in his mid-60s when the COVID-19 crisis is over and not having enough time if he becomes the next Prime Minister then, also bearing in mind the ages of the first three Prime Ministers when they were on the job.

Singapore needs a leader to reconstruct the post-COVID-19 and guide the phases thereafter of Singapore’s rebuilding efforts.

By stepping down, it will allow a younger leader with a longer runway to take over. With this in mind, Mr. Lee and other senior ministers will continue to lead and guide the younger ministers and identify another leader amongst them.

As announced, Mr. Heng will remain as Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies but will step down as Minister of Finance at the next Cabinet reshuffle, which will take place in about two weeks.

With the discussion of PM Lee and Mr. Heng, a mutual understanding of how both agreed that Budget 2021 concerns Singapore beyond COVID-19 and not just a budget for COVID-19.

As Mr. Heng steps down, Mr. Lee has recognized his efforts and contributions during his time as Education Minister and as Finance Minister, especially in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Singapore hits post-COVID-19, it is definite that the requests will be even more exerting, thus, it is in the nation’s best interests to have a younger representative become involved in major challenges in the precedent.

The top priority is that Singapore is able to come out of this pandemic stronger, starting by overcoming the pressing immediate challenges of the nation.

Despite the unexpected turn of events for succession planning, both PM Lee and Mr. Heng urge Singaporeans to stay calm as they seek their support and understanding as they undergo another selection to choose another leader for the team.

Choosing another leader isn’t easy. It involves many processes like team building, developing the team, developing relationships amongst team members-to enable the balance of chemistry to identify those that can maximize the performance of the team and ensure that the plan goes well and add up to even more than what has been planned. Thus, choosing a leader who will go above and beyond for both the team and responsibilities will definitely take more than a few months.

While Mr. Heng takes his absence, the Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean will be Acting Prime Minister.

In which, this interim arrangement will be set in place until the 4G is able to choose a new leader amongst themselves.

"You have my word: Together with my older colleagues like Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as well as our younger fourth-generation ministers, I will see this through. I am determined to hand over Singapore, intact and in good working order, to the next team," Mr. Lee during an online PAP rally for the General Election.

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