Heng Swee Keat

Heng Swee Keat PPA PJG (Chinese: 王瑞杰; pinyin: Wáng Ruìjié; born 15 April 1961)[1] is a Singaporean politician, former police officer and civil servant who has been serving as Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore since 2019 alongside Lawrence Wong, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies since 2020 and Chairman of the People's Action Party since 2022. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Bedok division of East Coast GRC since 2020.

Heng Swee Keat
王瑞杰
Heng Swee Keat.jpg
Heng in 2012
Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore
Assumed office
1 May 2019
Serving with Lawrence Wong (2022–present)
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byTharman Shanmugaratnam
Teo Chee Hean
Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies
Assumed office
27 July 2020
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byTharman Shanmugaratnam
Chairman of the People's Action Party
Assumed office
26 November 2022
DeputyMasagos Zulkifli
Secretary-GeneralLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byGan Kim Yong
Minister for Finance
In office
1 October 2015 – 14 May 2021
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Second MinisterLawrence Wong
(2016–2021)
Indranee Rajah
(2018–2021)
Preceded byTharman Shanmugaratnam
Succeeded byLawrence Wong
Minister for Education
In office
21 May 2011 – 30 September 2015
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byNg Eng Hen
Succeeded byNg Chee Meng
(as Minister for Education (Schools))
Ong Ye Kung
(as Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills))
Member of Parliament
for East Coast GRC
(Bedok)
Assumed office
10 July 2020
Preceded byLim Swee Say (PAP)
Member of Parliament
for Tampines GRC
(Tampines Central)
In office
7 May 2011 – 23 June 2020
Preceded bySin Boon Ann (PAP)
Succeeded byKoh Poh Koon (PAP)
Personal details
Born
Heng Swee Keat

(1961-04-15) 15 April 1961 (age 61)[1]
State of Singapore
Political partyPeople's Action Party
Spouse
Chang Hwee Nee
(m. 1988)
Children2
Alma materChrist's College, Cambridge (MA)
Harvard University (MPA)
Signature

Heng had previously served as Minister for Education between 2011 and 2015 and Minister for Finance between 2015 and 2021.[2]

Prior to entering politics, Heng worked in the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). He was also the principal private secretary to Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew between 1997 and 2001.

He made his political debut in the 2011 general election as part of a five-member PAP team contesting in Tampines GRC and won with 57.22% of the vote. He then elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Tampines Central ward of Tampines GRC and managed to retain his parliamentary seat in the 2015 general election with 72.06% of the vote before switching to contest in East Coast GRC in the 2020 general election.

Heng was poised to succeed Lee Hsien Loong as the fourth prime minister of Singapore following his appointment as Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore in May 2019 and First Assistant Secretary-General of the People's Action Party in November 2018. However, Heng subsequently withdrew himself from the nomination in April 2021.[3]

Early life and educationEdit

Born in a Chinese Singaporean of Teochew descent family, Heng was educated at Raffles Institution before graduating from Christ College at the University of Cambridge in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts with honours (later promoted to Master of Arts by seniority) degree in economics[1] after being conferred an overseas scholarship from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) in 1980.[4]

He returned to the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and served in various roles,[5] including a five-year stint in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), before leaving in 1997 with the rank of Assistant Commissioner. He also completed a nine-month Command and Staff Course conducted by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).[6]

He subsequently went on to complete a Master of Public Administration degree at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1993.[1]

Civil Service careerEdit

In 1997, Heng joined the Singapore Administrative Service and worked at the Ministry of Education before he was appointed as Principal Private Secretary to Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1997. In 2001, Heng became Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.[7]

From 1 June 2005 to 2 April 2011, he served as the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore,[8] and was named Asia-Pacific Central Bank Governor of the Year by The Banker in February 2011.[9]

Political careerEdit

2011–2015Edit

Heng made his political debut in the 2011 general election as part of the five-member PAP team contesting in Tampines GRC, with former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong claiming that Heng had the potential to become a Cabinet minister.[10] The PAP team won with 57.22% of the vote against the National Solidarity Party and Heng became a Member of Parliament representing the Tampines Central ward of Tampines GRC.[11]

On 18 May 2011, Heng was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister for Education even though he had just been elected for the first time as a Member of Parliament. In August 2012, he was tasked with leading a new ministerial committee to conduct a broad-based review of the government's policies and direction.[12]

2015–2020Edit

During the 2015 general election, Heng led the five-member PAP team contesting in Tampines GRC and won 72.06% of the vote against the National Solidarity Party. After the general election, on 1 October 2015, Heng relinquished his portfolio as Minister for Education and took up the position of Minister for Finance.[13]

On 19 February 2018, Heng announced during a budget speech in Parliament that the government planned to raise the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 7% to 9% sometime between 2021 and 2025. He said that, "the GST increase is necessary because even after exploring various options to manage our future expenditures through prudent spending, saving and borrowing for infrastructure, there is still a gap".[14]

On 1 May 2018, Heng took over the responsibility of assisting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the National Research Foundation matters from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.[15] Later that year, on 23 November, he replaced Teo as the first assistant secretary-general of the People's Action Party (PAP) following an election in the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC).[16][17]

On 1 May 2019, Heng was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, taking over the office which had previously been shared between Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam. He also continued to hold the Cabinet portfolio of Minister for Finance.[18] From 1985 to 2019, there had always been two Deputy Prime Ministers sitting concurrently in the Cabinet.[18] The unique circumstance of Heng becoming the sole holder of the office, together with his earlier appointment as the party's first assistant secretary-general, was seen by political observers as paving him the way to becoming the next prime minister.[19]

On 30 June 2020, the Nomination Day for the 2020 general election, Heng announced that he would be contesting in East Coast GRC, surprising political observers as he had been expected to run for election in Tampines GRC, which he had been representing for two terms since 2011.[20]

During a campaign speech, Heng unveiled the PAP's manifesto for East Coast GRC residents called "Together We Care @East Coast". The plan became popularly known as the "East Coast Plan" among Singaporeans and on social media.[21] In the campaigning period, a police report was lodged against Heng after comments he had made during a student forum at Nanyang Technological University in 2019 resurfaced.[22] While responding to a question on the possibility of Singapore having an ethnicity from the non-Chinese community as Prime Minister, Heng had said that the older generation was "not ready for a prime minister from a minority race" or someone who was non-Chinese.[23] The police released a statement on 7 July 2020, stating that they had consulted the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) and deemed that Heng's remarks had no intent to wound anyone's racial feelings or promote enmity between different races.[24]

On 10 July 2020, the five-member PAP team led by Heng contesting in East Coast GRC won 53.41% of the vote against the Workers' Party,[25] and Heng was elected as the Member of Parliament representing the Bedok ward of East Coast GRC. He continued to hold his Cabinet appointments as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance after the election.

On 18 February 2020, Heng delivered a budget speech in Parliament when the COVID-19 pandemic had just struck Singapore in January 2020. Referred to as the "Unity Budget", the government budget for 2020 covered measures to cover uncertainties long-term against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 26 March 2020, Heng delivered a second budget speech announcing an additional S$55 billion "Resilience Budget" in response to the worsening situation of the pandemic and to mitigate the economic impact on businesses. It was the second time in Singapore's history since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 that past reserves had to be used to fund the initiatives provided. Measures include a cash grant of S$9,000 for eligible self-employed persons as well as S$3,000 for lower-income recipients under the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme as emergency relief against the pandemic. Heng also mentioned that this would likely be the worst contraction ever in the economy since 1965.[26] On 27 July 2020, Heng took up an additional Cabinet appointment as Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.[27]

After the 2020 general election, Heng had been widely seen as the leading contender to be the next prime minister.[28] However, he withdrew himself from the nomination on 8 April 2021, citing age and health concerns, although political analysts also attributed his withdrawal to the PAP's lower-than-expected result in East Coast GRC at the 2020 general election.[29][30]

2021–presentEdit

Following a Cabinet reshuffle on 15 May 2021, Heng relinquished his Cabinet portfolio of Minister for Finance, and was succeeded by Lawrence Wong.[31] On 28 May 2021, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced that Heng had been reappointed as a member of its board for a further term of three years.[32][33]

Heng has spoken on the Anti-Indian sentiment of Singapore.[34]

Personal lifeEdit

Heng is married to Chang Hwee Nee, the chief executive officer of the National Heritage Board. They have two children.[35][36][37]

On 12 May 2016, Heng collapsed from a stroke during a Cabinet meeting. He was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he underwent neurosurgery to relieve pressure in his brain. He was transferred to the intensive care unit after the surgery[38][39] and discharged on 25 June 2016. He resumed his duties as a Member of Parliament and Minister for Finance on 22 August 2016.[40]

HonoursEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "Heng Swee Keat". Christ's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  2. ^ Parliamentary Elections Act (Chapter 218): Candidates declared to have been elected Members of Parliament at the 2011 general election (G.N. No. 1229/2011)
  3. ^ Ang, Hwee Min (8 April 2021). "DPM Heng Swee Keat steps aside as leader of PAP 4G team, PM Lee accepts decision". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  4. ^ Lai, Linette (9 April 2021). "Next S'pore PM should have 'sufficiently long runway' to master job: Heng Swee Keat". The Straits Times. ISSN 0585-3923. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  5. ^ Iau, Jean (3 August 2021). "DPM Heng leads calls to commemorate 200 years of police force" – via The Straits Times.
  6. ^ "Media Articles". MOF.
  7. ^ Minister for Education Mr HENG Swee Keat, Cabinet of Singapore, 12 June 2012, archived from the original on 7 December 2013
  8. ^ "MAS chief Heng Swee Keat steps down", The Straits Times, 31 March 2011
  9. ^ "MAS chief named top central bank governor for Asia-Pacific", The Straits Times, 12 February 2011
  10. ^ "Heng Swee Keat has 'potential to be Minister'", The Straits Times, 2 April 2011
  11. ^ 2011 Parliamentary Election Results, Elections Department, 8 October 2013, archived from the original on 6 March 2014
  12. ^ "National conversation on common future welcomed: Goh Chok Tong", The Straits Times, 12 August 2012
  13. ^ Nurhidayah (28 September 2015). "Transcript of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Statement at the Press Conference on the new Cabinet Line-Up on 28 September 2015". Prime Minister‘s Office Singapore. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Singapore Plans to Boost Goods and Services Tax to 9%". Bloomberg.com. 19 February 2018. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  15. ^ Anthony_chia (24 April 2018). "Changes to Cabinet and Other Appointments (Apr 2018)". Prime Minister‘s Office Singapore. Archived from the original on 24 April 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  16. ^ "PAP's new CEC". PAP.org.sg. 23 November 2018. Archived from the original on 29 April 2019. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Heng Swee Keat picked as PAP's first assistant secretary-general, indicating he will be next PM". StraitsTimes. 23 November 2018. Archived from the original on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Heng Swee Keat to be promoted to DPM in Cabinet reshuffle". Channel NewsAsia. 23 April 2019. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  19. ^ hermes (24 November 2018). "Heng Swee Keat picked as 4G leader, with Chan Chun Sing as deputy". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 19 January 2019. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  20. ^ Lai, Linette (30 June 2020). "Singapore GE2020: Heng Swee Keat decided to move to East Coast GRC as it cannot afford a 'succession gap'". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  21. ^ "This is the real 'Together We Care @ East Coast' plan". mothership.sg. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  22. ^ "Police report filed against PAP's Heng Swee Keat over his past remarks that older generation of S'poreans not ready for non-Chinese PM". The Online Citizen. Archived from the original on 7 July 2020.
  23. ^ "Older generation of S'poreans not ready for non-Chinese PM: Heng Swee Keat". TODAYonline. Archived from the original on 5 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  24. ^ "Police confirm reports made against DPM Heng over comments at NTU forum, but no offence found". 7 July 2020. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Singapore ruling party, stung by poll setback, faces succession questions". Reuters. 11 July 2020. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  26. ^ "COVID-19 Budget: What you need to know about the Resilience Budget measures". CNA. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  27. ^ "PMO | Changes to Cabinet and Other Appointments (July 2020)". Prime Minister's Office Singapore. 26 July 2020.
  28. ^ hermesauto (26 January 2018). "Singapore's 4G leaders need more time to gain exposure and experience: Analysts". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  29. ^ Tan, Sumiko (8 April 2021). "DPM Heng Swee Keat steps aside as leader of 4G team, setting back Singapore's succession plan for next PM". The Straits Times. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  30. ^ Tham, Yuen-C (9 April 2021). "Heng Swee Keat's decision catches many by surprise; Pritam Singh pledges to work with next 4G leader". The Straits Times. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  31. ^ "PMO | Changes to Cabinet and Other Appointments (April 2021)". Prime Minister's Office Singapore. 23 April 2021.
  32. ^ "Changes to MAS Board of Directors". MAS. 28 May 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  33. ^ Subhani, Ovais (28 May 2021). "MAS appoints finance minister Lawrence Wong as deputy chair of its board". The Straits Times. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  34. ^ "Singapore officials defend India trade pact amid immigration concerns". 6 July 2021.
  35. ^ AW, CHENG WEI (2 March 2015). "Two former First Ladies attend Girl Guides event". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  36. ^ "Chang Hwee Nee appointed National Heritage Board CEO". 20 March 2017. Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  37. ^ "Heng Swee Keat: I protested when I was moved". Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  38. ^ "Heng Swee Keat out of surgery; in ICU after stroke". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  39. ^ "Heng Swee Keat in stable condition: PM Lee". Channel NewsAsia. 13 May 2016. Archived from the original on 1 November 2016. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  40. ^ "Heng Swee Keat resumes duties as Finance Minister". TODAYonline.

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by Managing Director
of the Monetary Authority of Singapore

2005 – 2011
Succeeded by
Ravi Menon
Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Education
2011 – 2015
Succeeded byas Minister for Education (Schools)
Succeeded byas Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills)
Preceded by Minister for Finance
2015 – 2021
Succeeded by
Preceded by Deputy Prime Minister
Serving with: Lawrence Wong

2019 – present
Incumbent
Parliament of Singapore
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Tampines GRC (Tampines Central)

2011 – 2020
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for East Coast GRC (Bedok)

2020 – present
Incumbent