Heng Swee Keat

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Heng Swee Keat

Heng Swee Keat.jpg
Heng Swee Keat in Washington, D.C. in February 2012
Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore
Assumed office
1 May 2019
PresidentHalimah Yacob
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byTeo Chee Hean
Tharman Shanmugaratnam
ConstituencyEast Coast GRC
Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies
Assumed office
27 July 2020
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byTharman Shanmugaratnam
(Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies)
Minister for Finance
Assumed office
1 October 2015
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Second MinisterLawrence Wong
Indranee Rajah
Preceded byTharman Shanmugaratnam
Chairman of the Committee on the Future Economy
Assumed office
1 October 2015
Preceded byPosition established
Minister for Education
In office
21 May 2011 – 30 September 2015
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byNg Eng Hen
Succeeded byNg Chee Meng (Acting Schools Minister)
Ong Ye Kung (Acting Higher Education and Skills Minister)
Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore
In office
1 June 2005 – 2 April 2011
Preceded byKoh Yong Guan
Succeeded byRavi Menon
First Assistant Secretary-General of the People's Action Party
Assumed office
23 November 2018
Serving with Chan Chun Sing
(Second Assistant Secretary-General)
Secretary-GeneralLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byTeo Chee Hean
Member of the Singapore Parliament
for East Coast GRC
Assumed office
10 July 2020
Preceded byLim Swee Say
Majority7,781 (6.82%) (2020)
Member of the Singapore Parliament
for Tampines GRC
(Tampines Central)
In office
9 May 2011 – 23 June 2020
Preceded bySin Boon Ann
Succeeded byKoh Poh Koon
Majority18,347 (14.4%) (2015)
Personal details
Heng Swee Keat

(1961-11-01) 1 November 1961 (age 58)
Political partyPeople's Action Party
Chang Hwee Nee
m. 1988)
EducationRaffles Institution
Alma materChrist's College, Cambridge (BA, MA)
Harvard University (MPA)

Heng Swee Keat PPA PJG (born 1 November 1961) is a Singaporean politician who has been the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore since 1 May 2019, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies since 27 July 2020 and Minister for Finance since 1 October 2015 respectively. A member of the country's governing People's Action Party (PAP), he has been the party's First Assistant Secretary-General since November 2018 under Lee Hsien Loong. He previously served as Singapore's Minister for Education from 21 May 2011 to 11 September 2015. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Coast GRC for Bedok since 10 July 2020. He was the MP for Tampines GRC for Tampines Central from 7 May 2011 to 23 June 2020.[1]

He was widely believed to be poised as the next Prime Minister of Singapore, succeeding Lee Hsien Loong.[2] On 1 May 2019, Heng became the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore (DPM) while the two incumbent DPMs, Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, relinquished their posts on the same day.[3] He is also the first solo Deputy Prime Minister in 34 years. From 1985 to 2019, Singapore had two sitting deputy prime ministers working concurrently.

Prior to his election to Parliament, Heng served as the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) from 2005 to 2011.


Early career[edit]

In 1983, Heng began his career in the Singapore Police Force where he was awarded the SPF Overseas Scholarship from then President Devan Nair.[4] In 1997, he joined the Singapore Civil Service's Administrative Service. He served a period at the Ministry of Education, before being appointed the Principal Private Secretary to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (who was then Senior Minister) in 1997. In 2001, Heng became the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.[5] He then served as managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore from 2005 to 2011.[6]

In February 2011, Heng was named the Asia-Pacific Central Bank Governor of the Year by the British magazine The Banker.[7]

Political career[edit]

At the 2011 general election, Heng was a People's Action Party (PAP) candidate in the Tampines Group Representation Constituency (Tampines GRC). When he was introduced as a candidate, former Prime Minister (and Emeritus Senior Minister) Goh Chok Tong tipped Heng to be a potential minister and core member of Singapore's fourth generation leadership team.[8] Heng was one of five PAP candidates in his constituency in a team led by then-Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan, which also included Minister of State Masagos Zulkifli, Irene Ng, and Baey Yam Keng. They faced a team from the National Solidarity Party (NSP), led by the party's then-Secretary-General Goh Meng Seng (now the leader of People's Power Party), along with Reno Fong, Syafarin Sarif, Raymond Lim and Gilbert Goh. On polling day on 7 May, the PAP team won the contest with 57.22% of the votes.[9] (This represented a drop of 11.29% from the PAP's percentage of the votes in the constituency at the 2006 general election.)[10]

On 22 November 2018, Heng succeeded Teo Chee Hean as the Party's first Assistant Secretary-General.[11] The following day, on the CEC election, Heng was appointed as the first Assistant Secretary-General.[12][13]

At the 2020 general election, Heng was a People's Action Party (PAP) candidate in the East Coast Group Representation Constituency (East Coast GRC). On polling day on 10 July, the PAP team won the contest with 53.41% of the votes.[14]

Minister for Education (2011–2015)[edit]

On 18 May 2011, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong appointed Heng to the Cabinet as the Minister for Education. Heng was the second first-term MP-elect to be directly promoted to a member of Cabinet, after Richard Hu back in 1984.

In August 2012, Heng was tasked to lead a new ministerial committee to conduct a broad-based review of the Government's policies and direction.[15]

Minister for Finance[edit]

On 28 September 2015, it was announced that Heng will be the Minister of Finance from 1 October 2015.[16]

On 19 February 2018, Heng announced on his annual budget statement in parliament that he plans to raise GST from 7% to 9% some time between 2021 and 2025. He said, "the GST increase is necessary because even after exploring various options to manage our future expenditures through prudent spending, saving and borrowing for infrastructure, there is still a gap".[17]

On 24 April 2018, it was announced that Heng will take over responsibility for assisting the Prime Minister on National Research Foundation matters from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean effectively from 1 May.[18]

Heng's fourth budget took place on 18 February 2020. Referred to as the "Unity Budget", it covered measures to cover uncertainties long-term against the backdrop of the developing COVID-19 pandemic. Less than a month after on 26 March, Heng delivered a second budget, an additional S$55 billion "Resilience Budget" in response to the worsening situation of the pandemic and to mitigate the economic impact on businesses. It was the second time in Singapore's history since the financial crisis of 2007–08 that past reserves had to be used to fund the initiatives provided. Measures include a cash grant of S$9,000 for eligible self-employed persons as well as S$3,000 for lower-income recipients under the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme (WIS) as emergency relief against the pandemic. Heng also mentioned that this will likely be the worst contraction ever in Singapore's economy since 1965.[19]

Deputy Prime Minister[edit]

On 23 April 2019, the Prime Minister's Office announced that Heng will assume the role as the 12th Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore effectively from 1 May 2019, taking over Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who previously served in the office for 10 years and 8 years respectively.[3]


In 2020, multiple police reports were lodged against Heng after comments which he made to a student forum at Nanyang Technological University in 2019 resurfaced.[20][21] In his comments, he claimed that Singaporeans was "not ready for a Prime Minister from a minority race" or someone that was non-Chinese, possibly inciting racial tensions and social division. He cited a 2016 survey conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies reflecting that only 60% of Singaporean Chinese would accept an Indian Prime Minister, which was in contrast to a survey conducted to about 900 Singaporeans in 2016 which showed that Singaporeans had preferred Tharman Shanmugaratnam, a minority, as their first choice by a wide margin to succeed Lee Hsien Loong as Singapore’s next Prime Minister.[22]

However, the police released a statement a few days later that it has consulted with the Attorney-General of Singapore, Lucien Wong, who deemed that Heng's remarks had no intent to wound anyone’s racial feelings or promote enmity between different races.[23][24]

Personal life[edit]

Heng is married to Chang Hwee Nee, CEO of the National Heritage Board. Heng has 2 children.[25][26][27]


On 12 May 2016, Heng Swee Keat collapsed from a stroke during a Cabinet meeting. He was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he underwent neurosurgery to relieve pressure in his brain. He was transferred to the ICU after the surgery.[28] Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, was immediately appointed to cover Mr Heng's duties.[29]

On 25 June 2016, Heng Swee Keat was discharged from hospital after 6 weeks. The Prime Minister's Office said on a statement that Mr Heng "has made an excellent recovery", but is still on medical leave as he continues his rehabilitation. He resumed his duties as MP and Finance Minister on 22 August 2016.

Despite his stroke, Heng was still seen as the leading contender to be the next Prime Minister of Singapore after the 2020 election.[30]


He completed his pre-university education at Raffles Institution.

In 1983, Heng graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Economics from Christ's College, Cambridge.[31]

In 1993, Heng obtained a Master of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[31]

Notable awards[edit]

  • Asia-Pacific Central Bank Governor of the Year award from the British banking magazine The Banker (2011)



  1. ^ Parliamentary Elections Act (Chapter 218) [candidates declared to have been elected Members of Parliament at the 2011 general election] (G.N. No. 1229/2011)[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ hermes (24 November 2018). "Heng Swee Keat picked as 4G leader, with Chan Chun Sing as deputy". The Straits Times. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Heng Swee Keat to be promoted to DPM in Cabinet reshuffle". Channel NewsAsia. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  4. ^ http://www.mha.gov.sg/news_details.aspx?nid=Nzk3-uw4ySnZavTA%3D[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Minister for Education Mr HENG Swee Keat, Cabinet of Singapore, 12 June 2012, archived from the original on 7 December 2013
  6. ^ "MAS chief Heng Swee Keat steps down", The Straits Times, 31 March 2011
  7. ^ "MAS chief named top central bank governor for Asia-Pacific", The Straits Times, 12 February 2011
  8. ^ "Heng Swee Keat has 'potential to be Minister'", The Straits Times, 2 April 2011
  9. ^ 2011 Parliamentary Election Results, Elections Department, 8 October 2013, archived from the original on 6 March 2014
  10. ^ 2006 Parliamentary Election Results, Elections Department, 8 October 2013, archived from the original on 17 January 2018, retrieved 6 March 2014
  11. ^ "Heng Swee Keat to be PAP 1st assistant secretary-general, and next PM: Party sources". TODAYOnline. 22 November 2018.
  12. ^ "PAP's new CEC". PAP.org.sg. 23 November 2018.
  13. ^ "Heng Swee Keat picked as PAP's first assistant secretary-general, indicating he will be next PM". StraitsTimes. 23 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Singapore ruling party, stung by poll setback, faces succession questions". Reuters. 11 July 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  15. ^ "National conversation on common future welcomed: Goh Chok Tong", The Straits Times, 12 August 2012
  16. ^ Nurhidayah (28 September 2015). "Transcript of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Statement at the Press Conference on the new Cabinet Line-Up on 28 September 2015". Prime Minister‘s Office Singapore.
  17. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-19/singapore-plans-to-boost-gst-to-9-as-spending-pressures-mount
  18. ^ Anthony_chia (24 April 2018). "Changes to Cabinet and Other Appointments (Apr 2018)". Prime Minister‘s Office Singapore.
  19. ^ "COVID-19 Budget: What you need to know about the Resilience Budget measures". CNA. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Older generation of S'poreans not ready for non-Chinese PM: Heng Swee Keat". TODAYonline. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  21. ^ "Police report filed against PAP's Heng Swee Keat over his past remarks that older generation of S'poreans not ready for non-Chinese PM". The Online Citizen.
  22. ^ "Most Singaporeans would choose Tharman as the next Prime Minister: survey". sg.news.yahoo.com. Yahoo! News. 26 September 2016. Archived from the original on 6 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  23. ^ "Police confirm reports made against DPM Heng over comments at NTU forum, but no offence found". 7 July 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  24. ^ "GE2020: Police Report Made Against Heng Swee Keat For Saying Sinkies Not Ready For Minority Prime Minister". All Singapore Stuff - Real Singapore News. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  25. ^ AW, CHENG WEI (2 March 2015). "Two former First Ladies attend Girl Guides event". The Straits Times. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  26. ^ "Chang Hwee Nee appointed National Heritage Board CEO". 20 March 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  27. ^ "Heng Swee Keat: I protested when I was moved". Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  28. ^ "Heng Swee Keat out of surgery; in ICU after stroke". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  29. ^ "Heng Swee Keat in stable condition: PM Lee". Channel NewsAsia. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  30. ^ hermesauto (26 January 2018). "Singapore's 4G leaders need more time to gain exposure and experience: Analysts". The Straits Times. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  31. ^ a b http://app.psd.gov.sg/data/Press%20Release%20-%20Snr%20Appt%20Changes%20(21%20Feb).doc Archived 23 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Koh Yong Guan
Managing Director
of the Monetary Authority of Singapore

2005 – 2011
Succeeded by
Ravi Menon
Political offices
Preceded by
Ng Eng Hen
Minister for Education
2011 – 2015
Succeeded by
Ng Chee Meng
as Minister for Education (Schools)
Succeeded by
Ong Ye Kung
as Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills)
Preceded by
Tharman Shanmugaratnam
Minister for Finance
2015 – present
Preceded by
Teo Chee Hean
Tharman Shanmugaratnam
Deputy Prime Minister
2019 – present
Parliament of Singapore
Preceded by
Sin Boon Ann
Member of Parliament
for Tampines GRC (Tampines Central)

2011 – 2020
Succeeded by
Koh Poh Koon