Iswaran to ensure work goes on in Future Economy committee

Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), has been appointed co-chairman of the Committee on the Future Economy because of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's illness.
Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), has been appointed co-chairman of the Committee on the Future Economy because of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's illness. PHOTO: ST FILE
Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo (seated) standing in for Mr Heng at the Meet-the- People Session (MPS) in Tampines Central last night. Also present was former Tampines GRC MP Sin Boon Ann (far right). Mr Sin was appointed deputy chairman of the PAP Tamp
Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo (seated) standing in for Mr Heng at the Meet-the- People Session (MPS) in Tampines Central last night. Also present was former Tampines GRC MP Sin Boon Ann (far right). Mr Sin was appointed deputy chairman of the PAP Tampines Central branch yesterday and will oversee the ward's MPS.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

He will co-chair panel with immediate effect; Chan Chun Sing appointed deputy chairman

Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), has been appointed co-chairman of the Committee on the Future Economy because of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's illness.

He was its deputy chairman, a position that will now be held by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Chan Chun Sing.

Both appointments will take effect immediately, the PMO said in a statement last night.

Mr Heng, the committee's chairman, suffered a stroke last Thursday and is now in a stable condition at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

 

The new committee, announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last October, is tasked with charting the course of Singapore's future economy.

It has made good progress in the past few months, Mr Iswaran said in a Facebook post last night.

"My priority is to ensure (it) continues with its deliberations and active engagement of Singaporeans, industry and other stakeholders, in order to collectively shape strategies to secure Singapore's economic future," he added.

Mr Iswaran also said the outreach efforts of the five sub-committees have generated interesting ideas.

The sub-committees are identifying new growth industries and ways to spur corporate innovation. They are preparing workers for the new economy, developing sustainable urban spaces and studying how Singapore can remain well-connected as a competitive business hub.

The committee, whose members include government officials and business leaders, aims to complete its work by the end of this year.

Mr Chan said last night he will work closely with Mr Iswaran to build on what had been done. "Our goals, to develop the strategies for our next phase of economic growth and to create good jobs for Singaporeans, remain unchanged," he said.

Economists told The Straits Times that the appointment of a co-chair barely a week after Mr Heng fell ill made "rational sense".

It probably shows the Government wants to make sure the work goes on, said OCBC economist Selena Ling. Given his portfolio, Mr Iswaran is "quite an experienced hand" who will continue to facilitate the committee's work "without many hiccups", she added.

Agreeing, DBS Bank's Irvin Seah noted: "He has been deeply involved in the restructuring of the economy in the past five years. He is also very much in touch with the SMEs."

Separately, Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo stood in for Mr Heng at the Meet-the-People Session (MPS) in Tampines Central last night. He split his time between Mr Heng's session and his own at Tampines Changkat.

He told reporters the Tampines GRC MPs will take turns holding Mr Heng's MPS. A roster will be made public to inform residents which MP will be available each week.

The GRC's MPs will also do house visits on Mr Heng's behalf and handle municipal issues that crop up.

"In terms of continuity, our residents will not be short-changed," Mr Choo said.

Also present was former Tampines GRC MP Sin Boon Ann, who was in charge of Tampines Central before retiring from politics in 2011.

He was appointed deputy chairman of the People's Action Party (PAP) Tampines Central branch yesterday and will oversee the ward's MPS. "I am here to ensure the needs of residents are not disrupted," he said, adding that he has maintained ties with his old ward.

The branch office's walls were adorned with get-well-soon cards made by pre-schoolers from the PAP Community Foundation Tampines Central Education Centre.

The 35 residents at yesterday's MPS were confident their problems would be attended to despite Mr Heng's absence. Said technician Goh Teck Khee, 66, who needed advice on money matters: "As long as one MP helps solve the issue, it shouldn't be a problem."

Retiree Tan Joon Chye, 72, said: "It is good Mr Sin is here. He will help stabilise the situation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'Iswaran to ensure work goes on in Future Economy committee'. Print Edition | Subscribe