Wishes for a quick recovery from all quarters

Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat at the Future Of Us exhibition at the Gardens By The Bay on Dec 3, 2015.
Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat at the Future Of Us exhibition at the Gardens By The Bay on Dec 3, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

Get-well messages poured in from Singaporeans and politicians yesterday for Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, after news broke that he had suffered a stroke and collapsed at a Cabinet meeting.

Many, in comments on his Facebook page, wished him a fast recovery, with some also noting that he had been working very hard.

Facebook user DrMo Aris said in a comment on Mr Heng's Facebook page that he had just met the minister "the other day" at a coffee shop in Tampines. Mr Heng is an MP for Tampines GRC. Ms Candice Ling, in a Facebook comment, said: "Get well soon, Mr Heng! Do have a good rest before you return to work."

Ministers and MPs expressed concern for their colleague, with Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob saying in a Facebook post: "A thoughtful and patient man, deeply committed to Singapore, let's pray for his speedy recovery."

Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng, who is also an MP for Tampines GRC, said Mr Heng had looked his usual self at lunch yesterday before the Cabinet meeting.

He added: "He's been handling a lot of big projects for the last few years. So it has taken a toll on him."

Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng, who had spoken to Mr Heng on Monday, said: "He is a dear friend whom I have known since our school days. Let us all pray for a speedy recovery for Swee Keat."

Opposition parties and politicians, including leaders from the Workers' Party (WP), Singapore Democratic Party and Reform Party (RP), also took to Facebook to wish Mr Heng well. RP secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam, who knew Mr Heng when they both studied economics at Cambridge University, said: "He and his family are in our thoughts and we send our best wishes for a speedy and full recovery."

But Nominated MP Kuik Shiao- Yin noted that some comments online - such as those wondering whether there would be a by-election - were "indecent and appalling".

"So I really appreciate opposition politicians like WP's Daniel Goh and other opposition supporters who have personally stepped into their party's (Facebook) comment sections to call out bad behaviour and uphold standards of civil discourse. That's good leadership and simple human decency," she said.

Mr Heng entered politics in 2011 and had helmed the Education Ministry from then until last year, when he was made Finance Minister. Messages of concern and hopes for his quick recovery streamed in from those who knew him in both roles.

Singapore Business Federation chairman Teo Siong Seng, who had just seen Mr Heng on Wednesday night at a post-Budget meeting, said Mr Heng was "his usual self, very calm, didn't look tired".

Citibank Singapore chief executive Han Kwee Juan, who is on the Committee on the Future Economy Mr Heng chairs, said the minister has been "passionate on exploring all possible ideas and driving the agenda to develop strategies to position Singapore well for the future".

Bert Wong, in a post on Mr Heng's Facebook page, said: "All teachers appreciate who you have been for the fraternity - always giving us the most human side of you and striving for what education truly is!"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2016, with the headline 'Wishes for a quick recovery from all quarters'. Subscribe