Mr Heng Swee Keat and Mr Chan Chun Sing have "complementary strengths and make a strong pairing", Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday in his endorsement of Mr Heng as the People's Action Party's (PAP) new first assistant secretary-general and Mr Chan as the second assistant secretary-general and Mr Heng's deputy.
"They and the other younger office-holders have gradually come together, to work as a team and make the most of the strengths of each team member," PM Lee, the ruling party's secretary-general, said in a Facebook post.
"I am confident that they will continue to grow in experience and touch, and steadily win the confidence and trust of Singaporeans," he added.
Mr Heng is the Finance Minister, and Mr Chan, the Minister for Trade and Industry.
Calling the election of the new Central Executive Committee (CEC) a "major step forward" in the PAP's political renewal, PM Lee said the younger ministers and political office-holders have been meeting in recent months to discuss who should lead them.
They reached a consensus that Mr Heng will be their leader and Mr Heng, in turn, asked Mr Chan to be his No. 2, PM Lee said. Mr Heng's decision was also endorsed by the younger team.
At a party caucus held to brief the MPs on the new line-up of CEC appointments, the choice of Mr Heng and Mr Chan as first and second assistant secretary-general was also endorsed, PM Lee noted.
"I support the decision of the younger team, and am happy with this outcome. I have known and worked with Swee Keat and Chun Sing for some years now, and watched them grow in their different responsibilities," PM Lee said.
"Leadership transition is always a complex and delicate matter. The younger ministers themselves must decide who is to lead them, as they have done in this process.
"This way, they will give their full support to the leader whom they themselves have chosen," he added.
"A smooth transition to the new team to lead us beyond the next elections is important not only for the PAP, but also for Singapore's future," PM Lee said.
A group of 30 younger political office-holders also rallied behind Mr Heng and Mr Chan yesterday.
In a statement sent out shortly after the CEC appointments were made public, they said: "We have been carefully considering the issue of leadership for the team."
"In January, we issued a statement that we will choose a leader 'in good time'. Now, we have a consensus that the team will be led by Swee Keat... We endorse and support Swee Keat and Chun Sing as our leaders," the statement read.
It was signed by MPs including Education Minister Ong Ye Kung; National Development Minister Lawrence Wong; Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu; and Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli. The statement said they will "continue to work cohesively as a team, and forge a strong partnership with all Singaporeans".