Singapore: Singapore’s 4G or fourth generation management team will need more time to select another leader from among them, they said in a statement Thursday (April 8) after Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has announced that he will be stepping down as head of 4G. team.
Mr. Heng remains a member of the 4G team and will continue to serve as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for economic policy coordination.
He will relinquish his role as finance minister during the next cabinet reshuffle, expected in about two weeks. Heng will also remain the first deputy general secretary of the People’s Action Party (PAP), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a press conference on Thursday.
“Addressing Singapore’s immediate pressing challenges and making Singapore emerge stronger from this crisis remains our top priority. Under these circumstances, the 4G team will need more time to select another leader from among us, ”the 4G team said in a statement signed by 32 politicians from the People’s Action Party (PAP).
“So we asked Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to remain Prime Minister until a new successor is chosen by the team and is ready to take over. We are grateful that PM accepted our request. “
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The team released the statement after a meeting of all ministers and other office holders, including Parliament Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and NTUC General Secretary Ng Chee Meng.
Mr. Heng, Mr. Lee and the two senior ministers, Mr. Teo Chee Hean and Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, did not attend the meeting.
The 4G team asked for Singaporeans’ support and understanding when choosing another leader.
“This unexpected turn of events is a setback to our succession planning. We recognize that Singaporeans will be concerned. We are looking for your support and understanding, as we choose another team leader. “
They added, “We will continue to work as a team to serve our people and earn the trust of all Singaporeans.”
The 4G team leader is considered the next Prime Minister of Singapore, and Mr. Heng was seen as Mr. Lee’s successor after being voted “first among his peers” by his compatriots in early 2018. This new development clearly indicates that succession plans have shifted.
READ: PM Lee thanks DPM Heng Swee Keat for his ‘altruistic decision’ to step down as 4G team leader
In 2018, when Mr. Heng was announced as the head of the 4G team, Minister of Commerce and Industry Chan Chun Sing was appointed as his deputy.
When asked if he would be next in line in the line, Mr. Chan said, “Now that DPM has decided to step down as the 4G leader, the 4G team should be given the option to review the issue of succession holistically. And we will make a collective decision on who will be the next 4G leader in due course. “
He added that the leadership succession “goes beyond just choosing a leader” but is about finding and building the strongest team for Singapore.
Responding to another question about who are pioneers to be the 4G leader, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said Singapore’s succession planning should not be seen as a competition or a “race.”
The team does not select a “boss”, but someone who will bring out each other’s talents and strengths, he added.
“When it’s a race, there is only one winner at the end on the podium… with a team, we fight hard… on the field, and if we win, we have a trophy for the nation . And in this winning team, we will have a captain who can bring out the best in everyone, ”he said.
“So this process of developing a strong team and rallying around the ‘first of equals’ leader takes some time.”
READ: FOCUS: The implications of a delayed transition to Singapore’s next generation of leaders
Prime Minister Lee said the succession is “very, very important and urgent,” but choosing a new leader can take some time.
“It’s a process that takes more than a few months, but I think it shouldn’t take more than two years. And I hope that … I will have a clear result before the next general election”, a- he declared. .
Elaborating on Mr. Ong’s analogy, Mr. Lee said the selection process is about team building and developing relationships between team members.
“Over time, from that balance and that chemistry, you are able to identify who among the people can maximize the performance of the team, and make all the pieces come together and come together. add to more than the sum of its parts. “
Mr. Lee added that the long process was also the reason they decided to announce Mr. Heng’s decision now, before a successor was identified.
“The public also needs to know what the real status is in order to know what progress is being made and where it is at,” he said.
“If we were a publicly traded company, we would have clear obligations to make this public on a fairly short notice, which we did.”
4G executives also said Heng has been instrumental in leading key government initiatives, including delivering five budgets last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have all benefited from his experience and expertise, and we look forward to his continued guidance and contributions as we navigate our recovery and chart the course for Singapore,” the statement said.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong, a member of the 4G team at the press conference, said Mr. Heng’s decision illustrates the qualities associated with him as a person “selfless, with deep meaning. duty and a strong conviction to do what is best for Singaporeans and Singaporeans ”.
“Above all, he left a strong imprint on all of us in terms of collaborative and consultative leadership style,” said Mr. Wong.
“We have all benefited from his experience and expertise,” he added.
The team also said they respect and accept Mr. Heng’s decision to step down as the leader of the 4G team.
“We appreciate how difficult it must have been. But no one could have predicted the disruption of COVID-19, the great uncertainty it created and its lasting impact. We know he made the decision with Singapore’s long-term interests at heart. “
The declaration was signed by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen, Minister of Interior and Law K Shanmugam, Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong, Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, Minister of Communications and Information S Iswaran, Minister of Education Lawrence Wong, Minister of Sustainability and Environment Grace Fu, Minister of Social and Family Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of National Development Desmond Lee, Minister of Transport Ong Ye Kung, Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo, Ministers in the Office of Prime Minister Indranee Rajah, Mohamad Maliki Osman and Dr Tan Voir Leng, Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong.
It also includes Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, High Ministers of State Heng Chee How, Chee Hong Tat, Amy Khor, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Sim Ann, Zaqy Mohamad, Dr Koh Poh Koon; and Ministers of State Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Low Yen Ling, Desmond Tan, Sun Xueling, Alvin Tan, Gan Siow Huang, Tan Kiat How and NTUC Sec-Gen Ng Chee Meng.