I'm healthy enough to be PAP's next leader, says Heng Swee Keat

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SINGAPORE - Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat would not have assumed leadership of the ruling People's Action Party's (PAP's) fourth-generation team if he was not confident he was healthy.

The PAP's newly appointed first assistant secretary-general, who suffered a stroke in May 2016, said on Friday (Nov 23): "I have made very good recovery, my doctors have given me a clean bill of health."

"At my latest medical check, the results were even better than before. I have lost a bit of weight, but that's because I'm fitter now," he said to laughter at a press conference at the party's headquarters in New Upper Changi Road.

He added, more seriously, in response to media questions about his health: "I would not have taken up this appointment if I did not have the confidence that my health allowed me to do it.

"I consulted my doctors, looked at the medical reports as well as (knew) my own energy level."

Mr Heng had collapsed in the middle of a Cabinet meeting after suffering a brain aneurysm, and took several months to recover.

But since then, he has gone on to make many international trips, including two trips to Argentina, with a third one to the Group of 20 Summit coming up next week. Each trip is about 30 hours.

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People's Action Party's new first assistant secretary-general Heng Swee Keat said he chose Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing to be his second in command because of his many strengths.

Said Mr Heng with a smile: "I am travelling more than when I was MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) managing director.

"This life-and-death episode has strengthened my commitment to serve Singaporeans."

Mr Heng, who has been described as soft-spoken, was also asked about his leadership style.

He said this question was best answered by the people he worked with in his three decades of public service.

But he added: "My own sense is I'm very open, I listen to all views, and I decide what needs to be done.

"When it's important enough, we'll be fast and decisive about it, just like what I did during the Global Financial Crisis (in 2008 and 2009), because every minute of delay means far greater risk."

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