Delegating duties, exercising regularly and taking time to recharge: Heng Swee Keat

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat talks about his plans for the economy and the Future Economy Council.

In his first interview since becoming Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Heng Swee Keat talks about how he has been doing since his health scare in 2016 and what he does to relax.

Q You recently said that you have learnt how to pace yourself a little bit after your health scare and your stroke, so tell us how do you go about pacing yourself now? Are you going to have more time or less time as a deputy prime minister?

A Well, I don't think I'll have more time but, in fact, I have delegated a lot more work to (Second Ministers for Finance) Lawrence Wong and Indranee Rajah and they have been extremely good.

So a lot of the Ministry of Finance work, they are now leading major parts of it.

For the Future Economy Council, we are working very closely with (Trade and Industry Minister) Chan Chun Sing as well as (Manpower Minister) Josephine Teo and (National Trades Union Congress secretary-general) Ng Chee Meng on our economic transformation and looking at how we can pull together the different strands of work.

From jobs and skills and the training of our workers to how we can help to redesign jobs, how we can transform our businesses and encourage our businesses to really take the next big step forward.

In the case of the National Research Foundation and the IMDA (Info-communications Media Development Authority), we're working very closely with (Minister for Communications and Information) S. Iswaran to look at how we must take a big step forward in the digital economy because digitalisation is going to change many aspects of our economy.

The way we do it is that I delegate a lot more of this work and then pass on a lot of important work to different ministers.


I must say that we have a very, very good public service. So together with the public service, we are now even better at mobilising business leaders and our volunteers in the charity sectors and different parts of society.

I think we are building new capabilities for us to tackle many more complex and multi-faceted challenges.

So I am spending a bit more time looking immediately at, of course, our coming elections and at the same time, looking at how we can connect better with all Singaporeans.

Q Tell us finally, what do you do to relax then?

A Well, the most relaxing thing of course is when you exercise and I make it a point to do it almost every day and even if I go back late, I have a treadmill at home.

But I spend a lot of time also with my wife walking to different parts of Singapore and, of course, from time to time, taking a holiday to recharge.

I listen to music and I have a reasonably good hi-fi system at home. When time allows I go for some of our SSO (Singapore Symphony Orchestra) concerts at the Esplanade, and these are all very enjoyable activities.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 05, 2019, with the headline 'Delegating duties, exercising regularly and taking time to recharge'. Subscribe