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Cabinet reshuffle 'a major step in leadership succession': Outgoing DPM Tharman

Cabinet reshuffle 'a major step in leadership succession': Outgoing DPM Tharman

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam speaks at a panel discussion during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Nov 7, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: The Cabinet reshuffle announced on Tuesday (Apr 23) was "a major step ... in leadership succession", said Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who will relinquish his role as deputy prime minister together with Mr Teo Chee Hean come May 1. 

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will be promoted to DPM, while the two current DPMs will be appointed Senior Ministers and remain in Cabinet. 

The promotion of Mr Heng is further indication that he is frontrunner to be Singapore's next prime minister. He was appointed the People's Action Party first assistant secretary-general last November. 

In a statement posted on Facebook shortly after the announcement on Tuesday, Mr Tharman said: "Swee Keat is the best person to move up to become DPM and take over as PM during the next term of government. He has exceptional ability, mettle and the confidence of the 4G team.

"We have avoided sudden change. It may be unexciting and predictable, but it works for Singapore."

READ: Heng Swee Keat to be promoted to DPM in Cabinet reshuffle

READ: Teo Chee Hean to step down after 10 years as DPM; to stay in Cabinet as Senior Minister

Mr Tharman also underlined the need for Mr Heng and the 4G team to "carve their own way as leaders, individually and as a team, and progressively leave their own imprint". 

"Singaporeans' views and aspirations are changing," he said. "They will, I believe, be quite different 10 years from now."

"Our 4G leadership will have to keep their ears close to the ground, stay open to new ideas and initiatives, and keep evolving our strategies to keep our society inclusive and vibrant. So that they retain the trust of Singaporeans and lead the country with confidence. 

"I am sure they will, and will help them in every way I can in Government," he added. 

"I also look forward to continuing to serve my constituents in Jurong in the years to come."

Heng Swee Keat and Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Mr Tharman was first elected Member of Parliament in 2001 and served as finance minister for eight years, from 2007 to 2015. He was also education minister for five years between 2003 and 2008. In 2011, Mr Tharman was appointed deputy prime minister. 

Moving forward, Mr Tharman will continue to advise Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on economic policies, according to the PMO statement. 

The current director of GIC will also be appointed deputy chairman of the sovereign wealth fund from May 1, assisting Mr Lee - who is chairman - in leading the board as it oversees GIC's long-term asset allocation and portfolio performance. 

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Source: CNA/mi(hs)

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