Singapore said to name Finance Minister Heng as Lee’s successor

Lee Hsien Loong Photographer: Paul Miller/Bloomberg

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will be named second-in-command of the country’s ruling political party, paving the way for him to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as premier.

The People’s Action Party will announce its new office holders Friday though choices for the key assistant secretary-general positions have been decided upon, Today newspaper reported, citing unidentified party sources. Heng, 57, is expected to be named first assistant secretary-general while Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, 49, will be the second assistant secretary-general.

Lee has signalled he intends to hand over the premiership by the time he turns 70 in 2022. The country’s general elections must be held by early 2021.

Heng began his career in the Singapore Police Force, later entering the civil service and serving as principal private secretary to Lee Kuan Yew after he stepped down as Prime Minister. He has held the post of finance minister since 2015, and previously served as education minister and managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. During a Cabinet meeting in 2016, Heng collapsed from a stroke but recovered and came back to work three months later.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin earlier this month, Heng said the city-state may need to review its 2019 economic growth projections as uncertainty surrounds the trade spat between the U.S. and China.

Chan, a former Chief of Army and Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress, entered politics in 2011 and served in a range of portfolios — including Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) and Second Minister for Defense. He was appointed Minister for Trade and Industry in May.

Both men are part of a group of younger ministers known as the country’s fourth-generation leaders.

Read more about Singapore’s other notable young leaders here

Seven other fourth-generation leaders may also become increasingly prominent in the coming months, the Straits Times said. They include Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah.