DPM Heng steps aside as 4G leader: What comes next for PAP and Singapore?

Singaporeans' social media accounts and chat groups have been busy since news broke last Thursday that Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat would step aside as leader of the People's Action Party's fourth-generation team. What are the implications of his move? Senior Political Correspondent Grace Ho tackles the key questions.

Political analysts say the front runners for the 4G leader post are (clockwise from far left) Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, National Development Minister Desmond Lee and Education Minister Lawrence Wong.
Political analysts say the front runners for the 4G leader post are (clockwise from far left) Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, National Development Minister Desmond Lee and Education Minister Lawrence Wong. PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG, LIANHE ZAOBAO, DESMOND FOO, SGINNOVATE
Members of the PAP's 4G leadership team after a press conference at the party's headquarters in Bedok in 2018. From left: Mr Christopher de Souza, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, Dr Maliki Osman, Ms Indranee Rajah, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Mr Heng Swee Keat, Dr Vivian B
Members of the PAP's 4G leadership team after a press conference at the party's headquarters in Bedok in 2018. From left: Mr Christopher de Souza, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, Dr Maliki Osman, Ms Indranee Rajah, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Mr Heng Swee Keat, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (back to camera) and Ms Grace Fu. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Members of the PAP's 4G leadership team after a press conference at the party's headquarters in Bedok in 2018. From left: Mr Christopher de Souza, Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, Dr Maliki Osman, Ms Indranee Rajah, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Mr Heng Swee Keat, Dr Vivian B
Mr Heng Swee Keat (second from left) with his fellow Tampines GRC MPs back in 2011. He moved to East Coast GRC last year. From left: Ms Irene Ng, Mr Mah Bow Tan, Mr Masagos Zulkifli and Mr Baey Yam Keng. SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO

From the 1G to the 4G, the "G" was coined by political observers to denote each generational change in leadership for different prime ministers' Cabinets.

The term is inexact, given that each of Singapore's three prime ministers so far has had a mix of ministers who were new to politics and young, as well as older and more experienced. Several ministers also served in the Cabinets of more than one PM.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 11, 2021, with the headline 'DPM Heng steps aside as 4G leader: What comes next for PAP and Singapore?'. Subscribe