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‘I find it a pity’: East Coast GRC residents surprised by DPM Heng's decision to step aside as 4G leader

‘I find it a pity’: East Coast GRC residents surprised by DPM Heng's decision to step aside as 4G leader

People's Action Party first assistant secretary-general and candidate for East Coast GRC Heng Swee Keat giving a child a PAP flag during a Simei walkabout on Jul 3, 2020. (Photo: Ruth Smalley)

SINGAPORE: Residents of East Coast GRC were surprised to learn that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat would be stepping aside as leader of the fourth generation team, with some saying that it was a “pity”.

Mr Heng announced on Thursday (Apr 8) that he would stand aside as leader of the 4G ministers, citing his age, health and the need for a “longer runway” for the future Prime Minister.

He wrote in his letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: “While I am in good health, it is in the best interests of the nation, for someone who is younger to tackle the huge challenges ahead.”

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

READ: DPM Heng says he is stepping aside as 4G leader for younger person to become future PM

When CNA visited East Coast GRC - where Mr Heng is serving as Member of Parliament - on Thursday evening, many residents had not heard of the news and did not express an opinion on the matter when asked. 

Those who spoke to CNA said that they were surprised by the announcement.

During last year's election, Mr Heng led a five-member People's Action Party to secure about 53 per cent of the vote at East Coast GRC, winning against the Worker's Party. 

Assistant swabber Shaik Huzaini, 28, had not heard of Mr Heng’s decision when approached. However, he said that it was "unexpected", as he thought Mr Heng would be the “next one taking care of us”.

“He cares for Singapore and the future generation,” he said, citing Mr Heng’s contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Mr Shaik said that he was “neutral” about the decision and would like to see what happens in the future.

Another resident Mr Eldon Sng, 31, said that it was a “big surprise”, but “at the end of the day, (Mr Heng) has done his part as DPM (Deputy Prime Minister)” and wished him well.

READ PM Lee thanks DPM Heng Swee Keat for 'selfless decision' to step aside as leader of 4G team

READ: ‘Setback for succession planning’: 4G team to select new leader as PM Lee stays on as Prime Minister

Others said that it was a “pity” to see Mr Heng step aside from the position.

“Personally, I think it’s a pity,” said Mr Ben Hiew, 28. “My impression of (him) is good. Because I’m a freelancer, the financial policies he implemented really helped me during COVID.”

“But I think he knows his own health best. I'm sure he made this decision knowing (what's) better for Singapore. My respect for him definitely increased,” he said.

READ: DPM Heng stepping aside a setback, but not a 'blow' to succession planning: Analysts

Echoing the same sentiment, Mr Poh En Tat said it was a pity that Mr Heng will no longer be at the helm of the 4G team. The 46-year-old said he thought that Mr Heng was “doing quite well” managing Singapore’s financial situation.

He added that he often saw Mr Heng around the neighbourhood on his jogs. 

“He’s walking the ground quite close to the people. I find it a pity.”

Source: CNA/cc(ta)


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