SINGAPORE: Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said he will support Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in reviewing Singapore’s longer term policy measures to take the country forward in the next decade, as he prepares to take on the role of Deputy Prime Minister from May 1.
Mr Heng said these include ageing population matters, economic restructuring and dealing with social issues that may arise as Singapore experiences a faster pace of change.
Speaking on the sidelines of a community event on Sunday (Apr 28) - his first public event since the cabinet reshuffle was announced on Tuesday - the minister said strengthening relations with major partners was a priority.
“A very important part of it is to support the Prime Minister in strengthening our relations with major partners around the world. As you know I’ve just been back from the United States. I just spent a week in Thailand and Malaysia.
"I’ll be going to China next month, as well as Japan. So there’s a whole range of visits I’m doing to build good relations with our neighbours to strengthen our partnership to take Singapore forward,” said Mr Heng, who will still remain Finance Minister.
The promotion to Deputy Prime Minister cements Mr Heng’s standing as Singapore’s next Prime Minister.
Mr Lee has said he hopes to hand over the reins by the time he turns 70, which would be in 2022. This means his successor would have about three years to prepare for the role.
Asked about the time frame, Mr Heng said having been in public service all his life, the role is not something totally new.
Mr Heng was also asked about his health, to which he quipped “What do you think? Do I look healthy?” Turning serious, he added: “The one good lesson I learnt is to pace myself better, so I will have sufficient exercise and rest.”
Mr Heng was speaking at a ceremony to mark the completion of the first 1.6 kilometres of additional cycling paths in Tampines Town which runs along stretches of Tampines Concourse, Tampines Central 7 and Tampines Avenue 6.
The event was also attended by Grassroots Advisers for Tampines GRC Masagos Zulkifli, BaeyYam Keng, Desmond Choo and Cheng Li Hui. Together with Mr Heng, they also launched the ground-breaking for the next 4km of cycling paths in Tampines, that’s slated for completion in 2020.