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Singapore DPM steps down as leader of PAP's 4G team, will not be next PM

08/04/2021 10:26 PM

By Massita Ahmad

SINGAPORE, April 8 -- Singapore Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat has decided to step down as the leader of the People's Action Party's fourth-generation (4G) team.

However, he will stay on as DPM but his decision effectively means that he is stepping aside from becoming the next prime minister of the city-state. 

In his letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, which was posted on the Prime Minister's official website, Heng said his decision was taken “after careful deliberation and discussion with his family".

"I have decided to step aside as leader of the 4G team, so that a younger leader who will have a longer runway can take over.

“It will be for the 4G team to choose the person, and I stand ready to support the next leader,” said Heng, who will turn 60 this year.

He said that Singapore needs a leader who will not only rebuild Singapore post-COVID-19, but also lead the next phase of the nation building effort.

"This year, I am 60. As the crisis will be prolonged, I would be close to the mid-60s when the crisis is over. The 60s are still a very productive time of life.

"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," he said.

Heng said the next prime minister should have a sufficiently long runway - to master the demands of leading the nation; formulate and see through the longer-term strategies for the country; and win the confidence and support of Singaporeans to build this shared future together.

The Member of Parliament for East Coast GRC is PAP's first assistant secretary-general.

In his letter of reply, which was also posted on the website, Lee said he understood and respected Heng's decision.

The prime minister said that he was glad that Heng had agreed to stay on in the Cabinet as his deputy and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.

Lee noted that Heng will relinquish his finance portfolio at the next Cabinet reshuffle.

"You have done exceptional work as Minister for Finance, especially in the past year in the trying circumstances wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Lee.


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