TL;DR – After careful deliberation and discussion with his family, DPM Heng has decided to step aside as leader of the 4G team, so that a younger leader who will have a longer runway can take over.
As Singaporeans were getting ready to knock off for the day last evening, news broke on CNA that DPM Heng Swee Keat has decided to step aside as leader of the PAP’s 4G team. Many netizens be like “Eh, is this a belated April’s Fool joke?”
Afterall, Mr Heng is well-liked on the ground, and had done exceptionally well as Minister for Finance, taking Singaporeans through the unprecedented crisis! At a press conference at the Istana, Mr Heng cited his age – he turns 60 this year – and the fact that the Covid-19 crisis will not come to an end soon as reasons for his decision. He emphasised the need for Singapore’s next Prime Minister to have a sufficiently long runway. Afterall, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was in his 30s, Mr Lee Hsien Loong was 52, and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh was 49 when they stepped into the role of Prime Minister. Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong shared that Mr Heng had made “a selfless and courageous decision in the interest of Singapore”.
Workers’ Party chief Pritam Sing also commented that the news of DPM Heng’s decision to step down as Singapore’s next PM came as a surprise, but he added that Workers’ Party will work with whoever is selected by the 4G PAP, and the Government of the day, “for the betterment of Singapore and Singaporeans”.
Meanwhile, Unsurprisingly, Social Media Exploded with Conspiracy Theories
“After careful deliberation and discussions with my family, I have decided to step aside as leader of the 4G (fourth-generation) team.”
Once the news broke, social media went crazy and my WhatsApp were rife with conspiracy theories. “What health issues is DPM facing huh?” “Or was it because of 2020 GE results?!” Nope, Mr Heng has since clarified that the GE results has had no bearings on his decisions.
A Man Who Has Served the Nation For the Most Part of His Life
You may recall that Mr Heng suffered a brain aneurysm in 2016, shocking everyone when he collapsed during a Cabinet meeting in May 2016. He remained in a coma for six days.
Word has it that the first words he scribbled when he came out of the coma were: “Is there a Cabinet meeting today? Where are the papers?” The man was back to work three months later the same year.
Who can doubt this man’s dedication to Singapore and Singaporeans?
Mr Heng shared that he entered public service at age 19. A man who has served Singapore for the most part of his life and it’s clear that Singaporeans understood that he has made the decision with Singapore’s long-term interests at heart.
Mr Heng will stay on as DPM and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies for now. He will however relinquish his finance portfolio when the Cabinet reshuffle happens in about two weeks’ time.
Residents of East Coast GRC Expressed Gratitude and Deep Sense of Pity at The News.
According to a CNA report, assistant swabber Shaik Huzaini, 28, said that it was unexpected, “He cares for Singapore and the future generation,” a tribute to Mr Heng’s contributions during the pandemic.
Another resident Mr Eldon Sng said that while it came as a big surprise, at the end of the day, “(Mr Heng) has done his part as DPM”. Freelancer, Mr Ben Hiew, also shared that his impression of Mr Heng is good, sharing that “the financial policies he implemented really helped me during COVID”.
For now, it appears that polls on the support for the next leader are already underway with netizens expressing “+1 support” for Lawrence Wong because he “feels like a leader”, and Chan Chun Sing because he “got the vision to see far far”, among others.
Any guesses yourself? Who would you support to be the next leader?