Singaporeans keep watch over Heng Swee Keat's progress

This article is more than 12 months old

Singaporeans, from Ministers to men in the street, are keeping watch over Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's progress

Tributes, get-well wishes and prayers poured in for Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat as he remained at the intensive care unit (ICU) in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) yesterday.

After an outpouring of support from well-wishers, a table was set up at TTSH's Heritage Museum yesterday for cards and gifts for Mr Heng, 54, a Tampines GRC MP.

Religious leaders from 10 faiths of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) gathered at their office at Maxwell Road to offer their prayers for his speedy recovery.

Mr Heng collapsed during a Cabinet meeting on Thursday. He had suffered a sudden stroke due to an aneurysm - a localised weakening of a blood vessel.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave an update on Mr Heng's condition in a Facebook post.

"Visited Heng Swee Keat at the ICU in Tan Tock Seng Hospital this evening. He was sedated. His condition is stable, but he will remain in the ICU for some time," Mr Lee wrote.

"He is in very good hands, like all patients at the National Neuroscience Institute."

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan wrote in a Facebook post that Mr Heng was stable and the procedures done on Thursday were successful.

Dr Balakrishnan, a former ophthalmologist, was one of the three doctors who attended to Mr Heng when he collapsed.

He added: "But these are early days, and he will need close monitoring in the ICU for quite some time more."

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng joined the religious leaders of the IRO to pray for Mr Heng yesterday evening.

Imam Habib Hassan from the Ba'alwie Mosque called for a minute of silence to pray for Mr Heng's "smooth, speedy and full recovery".

The imam said that he had met Mr Heng when he was Education Minister and called him "one of the most dedicated leaders in Singapore and one that Singapore needs".


DPM Tharman, who will be covering Mr Heng's duties as Finance Minister, also paid tribute to him in a short speech. He said that he had known him for two decades, when Mr Heng joined the Ministry of Education as a civil servant.

"Swee Keat represents the best in all of us. (He is) humble, someone who is able to overcome adversity. And someone who has the ability to work with everyone.

"He represents the best of Singapore, something we all aspire to be."

Tributes for Mr Heng came from all over Singapore.

Netizens sent their get-well wishes with the hashtags #prayforsweekeat and #getwellsoonhsk.

At TTSH, flowers and gifts filled the table. A couple, who declined to be named, placed flowers for Mr Heng yesterday evening.

"We just want to show our concern for him, and we certainly hope he is recovering well," the woman said.

Staff from Tampines Town Council folded paper cranes in a symbolic gesture for Mr Heng's recovery.

A post on their Facebook yesterday read: "It is believed that one will be granted eternal good luck and recovery from an illness. Fold a crane to #prayforsweekeat"

Mr Baey, who is a Tampines MP, said yesterday that the remaining four MPs of the GRC have discussed how they can ensure that residents will continue to be taken care of and will announce their plans at a community event today.

Mr Tharman said that it is times like this which show the unity of Singaporeans.

"Life has its up and downs, for all of us, when things are down, we come together to hope, pray and support. This is how we come up again.

"Swee Keat, with the love of his family, his wife and two children, and the prayers of the nation, will recover."

Visited Heng Swee Keat at the ICU in Tan Tock Seng Hospital this evening. He was sedated. His condition is stable, but he will remain in the ICU for some time- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, giving an update on Mr Heng's condition in a Facebook post

Law Minister slams netizen for insensitive question

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam rebuked a netizen who made an insensitive comment after Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's stroke on Thursday evening.

Netizen Raymond Tan had posed a question on Mr Shanmugam's Facebook, asking if there would be a by-election if Mr Heng died.

Mr Shanmugam replied that he felt sick by Mr Tan's response: "...I don't know what sort of person you are. Have no sense of compassion and what is right and what is wrong?

"To ask about whether there will be by-election in the circumstances you mention (I can't even bring myself to repeat your words?)

"Are these words people will even use? Do you not think about his wife and children?"

The Minister's response to Mr Tan's question drew more than 1,200 likes.

Most of the netizens in the comment thread also slammed Mr Tan's comment.

Netizen Jay Tun said: "It's definitely not time to ask such a rhetorical question. Please do exercise some sensitivity along with your nonchalant lack of compassion."

Another netizen, Mervin Quah, said: "It's not a matter of being emotional. You seemed to be the one lacking in basic human compassion and decency."

Despite the negative comments, Mr Tan was unrepentant and said he was just being rational.

"We must be prepared for the worst case scenario," he wrote.



heng swee keatstrokeTharman Shanmugaratnam