SINGAPORE - With his exceptional ability and mettle, and the support of his peers, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is the best person to move up to become Deputy Prime Minister and take over as Prime Minister in the next term of government, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Tuesday (April 23).
In a Facebook post shortly after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the Cabinet reshuffle, Mr Tharman described the changes as a major step in leadership succession and a plus for Singapore's future.
Besides Mr Heng's promotion, both Mr Tharman and Mr Teo Chee Hean will relinquish their appointments as DPM, and assume the mantle of Senior Minister.
Mr Tharman, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, will also be redesignated as Coordinating Minister for Social Policies and continue to advise the Prime Minister on economic policies.
He was also appointed deputy chairman of Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, where he is currently a board member and chair of its Investment Strategies Committee.
Mr Teo will remain as Coordinating Minister for National Security.
Commenting on the reshuffle, Mr Tharman said it avoided sudden change, but also ensured there was renewal along with the changing times.
"It may be unexciting and predictable, but it works for Singapore. We will have a strong crew in Cabinet, with PM Lee at the helm, Teo Chee Hean and myself staying engaged as Senior Ministers and, together with our other senior colleagues, providing support to the 4G team as it takes over," he added.
"We each have our strengths and individual characters, but none of us is perfect. Our system of political renewal in Government only succeeds if we complement each other and play as a team, work with Singaporeans, and never let success get to our heads or assume that all that worked in the past will work in the future. It is how the Singapore story keeps going."
In his Facebook post, Mr Tharman also had advice for the next generation of leaders.
With Singaporean's views and aspirations changing, things will be quite different 10 years from now, and the 4G leadership will have to "carve their own way as leaders, individually and as a team, and progressively leave their own imprint", he said, pledging to help them in every way he can in the Government.
He urged them to help younger Singaporeans achieve their ideals and hopes, prevent new technologies from dividing the workforce and ensure the Baby Boom generation enjoy their senior years.
He also said the region and the world will become less predictable and throw up new challenges, while climate change will become more urgent than ever and require bolder actions.
"Our 4G leadership will have to keep their ears close to the ground, stay open to new ideas and initiatives and keep evolving our strategies to keep our society inclusive and vibrant. So that they retain the trust of Singaporeans and lead the country with confidence," he said.
Mr Tharman, who helms Jurong GRC and was first elected in 2001, also said he looked forward to "continuing to serve my constituents in Jurong in the years to come".