Heng Swee Keat deftly deflects question on whether he will be the next Prime Minister

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Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat quite predictably dodged the question of what he thinks of rumours that he will succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to become the new head of government, during a recent interview with Chinese magazine, Caijing.

Heng has been rumoured to be a frontrunner for the position ever since interest in PM Lee’s successor heated up when the PM repeatedly announced in recent years that he would step down some time after the next general election, which must be held by 15 Jan 2021.

When the magazine asked the Minister about such rumours, he instead spoke about how the cabinet works cohesively and how the Prime Minister is the head of the cabinet:

Caijing: PM Lee has said that his successor is most likely to be in the Cabinet now, you have been mentioned as potential successor, what’s your response to this?
HSK: Our cabinet has very strong cohesion. It started from the time when Lee Kuan Yew was PM and it has since continued to be so with our second PM Goh Chok Tong and current PM Lee Hsien Loong. Cabinet members meet every week to discuss policies and everyone pitches policy suggestions. We also spend time discussing our relationships with our neighbouring countries and partners. We will continue to maintain constructive relationships with neighbouring countries, including China. Over time, we get to understand that different ministries face different issues, and it helps us understand national issues better. This is a very cohesive team and the PM is the leader of the team.

On what qualities Singapore’s next Prime Minister should have, Heng pointed to trust and asserted, “The most important thing in our parliamentary system is to win the trust of the people.”

Caijing: In your opinion, what qualities should Singapore’s next Prime Minister have?
HSK: The most important thing in our parliamentary system is to win the trust of the people. Before becoming the PM, you need to be elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) first. All MPs spend a lot of time to understand their constituents, and they strive to improve their lives.
We also need to constantly monitor what’s happening around us in the world, in order to understand the challenges and opportunities we face, and also how to mobilise the people to adapt to changes. Economic restructuring is part of this effort. For example, how can we maintain cohesion in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious society, and how can we help the young realise their potential through education, these are very important issues to Singapore.

 

Several prominent figures have touted that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will make a fine PM. Former Member of Parliament Inderjit Singh said, “No obvious PM candidate other than Heng Swee Keat has emerged.”

While Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam are prime candidates for the position, it is unlikely that they will assume the role since they are only about 5 years younger than the PM.

Besides Heng, younger ministers like Chan Chun Sing and Ong Ye Kung have been tipped as top choices for the role by political pundits. Both ministers are in their 40s.

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67 comments

  1. Ah Keat does not make for a fine PM. All these “Chinese men only” candidates are from the same cloth. There is no difference in the way that they are merely followers. I can’t see how different they are except for levels of incompetence. Current PM truly cmi.

  2. John Don says:

    he’s a good guy to do the job, the rest are too pretentious. So many of you guys are whining over at the internet, why dont you try to do the job and see if you can do it better? If yes, i’ll vote for you, otherwise stfu

  3. When the time of waking dragon in the 21st century clearly identified. Why still so blur like sotong? Are we going to perform self Hari-Keri.?

    We already deployed FM cannot speak Mandarin.

    We ownself pick ownself President cannot speak Mandarin.

    If we going to pick non speaking Mandarin as PM.

    Than we are heading south direction. It could be Worst than we can anticipated.

    All Hari-Keri. … together?

  4. Pat Chong says:

    Why is the position of Prime Minister being selected in the first place? Why isn’t it being voted? The salary is paid by our tax, why are we not being involved? Isn’t it supposed to be a voting system? Why is LHL’s choice or PAP’s choice, ain’t all of them paid by the citizens’ tax? Who are they to tell us who to accept as our next PM? They have already showed us so much incompetence & greed, why do the citizens still dicussing who is the chosen one by LHL or PAP? What is wrong? Can anyone wake up? We should have our vote & choice, not them….

  5. Chee Wong says:

    Nobody with a medical problem can be a PM. LSL has to wait 10 years after his cancer was cured before become the PM. This must be some internal party rule.

  6. None of the current Ministers can make a good Prime Minister. They do not have the same passion as the old PAP members. These current Ministers have at least 5 to 20 times more salary then other county.

  7. How can a Yes man be the PM. None of these present ministers can compare to the old guards. All of them are either greedy or ball-less and dare not speak on his own words.
    All fails and the worst is that none is so daring ad GSK

  8. Looks quite obvious like everybody knoes alteady. Some people also say has is very intelligent so good choice because of it. Also not too young like the others. Logical reason.

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