4G ministers will start discussions with S'poreans next year: Heng

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat speaking to reporters on Saturday after the end of the G-20 summit. He said the 4G ministers will examine the fundamental, long-term issues that Singapore needs to address.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat speaking to reporters on Saturday after the end of the G-20 summit. He said the 4G ministers will examine the fundamental, long-term issues that Singapore needs to address.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

They will hold sessions to engage citizens on long-term issues after Budget debate, he says

The fourth-generation (4G) ministers will launch their planned series of discussions with Singaporeans after next year's Budget, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

These sessions with different groups of people will build on the Our Singapore Conversation national feedback drive he spearheaded in 2013, said Mr Heng.

"In the last few months, the team has been working very hard to discuss the topics, issues that we want to discuss with Singaporeans, and also how do we do it," he said.

"We had Our Singapore Conversation (OSC); it was much more open-ended. We want to build on the OSC and, at the same time, we want to have some time to look at what are some of the fundamental, long-term issues that as a country, as a society, we need to address."

He gave the update on the series, first announced in May this year, in an interview with Singapore media on Saturday after the end of the G-20 summit, which he attended together with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Mr Heng was picked by the People's Action Party's 4G ministers last month to be their leader, putting him in line to be Singapore's fourth prime minister. He, in turn, announced that he had asked Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing to be his deputy.

On the discussion series, Mr Heng said the 4G ministers will continue with more in-depth planning discussions in January before taking a pause for the Budget and parliamentary debates over ministries' budgets, he added.

CLEAR AGENDA FOR TEAM

I want to ensure that we maintain that unity in the team and that's why I had such a good discussion with Chun Sing, not just on being the leader and deputy, but also on what we need to do to take Singapore forward. We are both very clear that it is not about lobbying younger office-holders for a particular position, but about reaching agreements on how we can do this well and the agenda for taking Singapore forward.

FINANCE MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT, on how he asked Mr Chan Chun Sing to be his deputy after finding out he had been chosen to lead the team.

They will then start discussions from April on details before they "engage all Singaporeans on this very important effort to continue to build our nation", he said.

Mr Heng also shared further details of how his 4G colleagues deliberated on who would lead them.

He said the younger leaders had been consulting one another and, after a period of time, they decided among themselves that both he and Mr Chan Chun Sing were possible candidates.

Mr Heng said that he was not involved in his fellow ministers' discussions as to which of their final two candidates they would choose as leader.

Asked how long the discussions took, Mr Heng said: "It took them several months and I told them: Please discuss it thoroughly so that you can get as wide a range of views as possible."

After his colleagues informed him of their choice, Mr Heng said he had a "very nice discussion with Chun Sing". Mr Heng said he asked Mr Chan to be his deputy.

"And he readily accepted, so I am very happy with that," he added.

"I want to ensure that we maintain that unity in the team and that's why I had such a good discussion with Chun Sing, not just on being the leader and deputy, but also on what we need to do to take Singapore forward," Mr Heng said.

"We are both very clear that it is not about lobbying younger office-holders for a particular position, but about reaching agreements on how we can do this well and the agenda for taking Singapore forward," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2018, with the headline '4G ministers will start discussions with S'poreans next year: Heng'. Print Edition | Subscribe