Singapore

4G team 'in complete unity' behind DPM Heng as leader: Vivian

This article is more than 12 months old

Vivian reiterates PM Lee's point that Cabinet reshuffle reflects need for continuity, rotation and renewal

The fourth-generation leadership team is in "complete unity" behind Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat's leadership, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday.

Asked about the new Cabinet line-up announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, Dr Balakrishnan reiterated PM Lee's points that the reshuffle "reflects the need for continuity, the need for rotation, and the need for renewal".

"And if you look carefully at the composition and in fact at the moves that the Prime Minister has made, it reflects all these three priorities," he added.

Dr Balakrishnan, who is part of the 4G leadership team, also said the team backs the leadership of DPM Heng, who is expected to take over as prime minister when PM Lee steps down.

On Saturday, it was announced that Mr Heng is taking on an additional appointment as Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.

"We are - all of us, in complete unity - behind the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, so there's no need for any discussions or questions on that. We are in absolute unity under his leadership," Dr Balakrishnan said, saying he was speaking on behalf of the 4G team.

His remarks come in the wake of comments about the People's Action Party's succession plan at a press conference on Saturday during which PM Lee announced his new Cabinet line-up.

Some observers had earlier cast a question mark over the leadership succession plan, citing the vote share Mr Heng's slate in East Coast GRC got in the general election and the disruption posed by Covid-19.

Responding to a question on whether the 4G leaders had discussed or reviewed their position backing Mr Heng as their leader, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, Mr Heng's deputy on the 4G team, said they had not discussed this - and did not plan to.

"We're entirely focused on helping our country overcome the economic challenges and saving jobs at this point in time," he said. "We have no plans to do otherwise and we have no plans, no discussion on any change in plan."

FEWER MOVEMENTS

There were fewer ministerial movements this year, compared with the reshuffle after the 2011 General Election.

Just six of the 15 government ministries are getting a new minister, while top leadership changes were made to 11 out of the 14 ministries at the Cabinet reshuffle that followed GE2011.

Fourth-generation leaders taking on new portfolios include Mr Lawrence Wong, who will be Education Minister; Mr Desmond Lee, who will take Mr Wong's place as National Development Minister; and Mr Ong Ye Kung, who will relinquish the Education portfolio to become Transport Minister.

Besides Dr Balakrishnan, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen is one of those who retained their portfolio. Dr Ng said yesterday he sees his appointment as a continuity to bring Singapore through the pandemic.

"This is, for Singapore, an existential threat that is life and death, not just for individuals but for our nation. So we will take it as a continuity and we want to build a strong defence to protect our future," he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING: NG KENG GENE

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