Heng Swee Keat
Heng Swee Keat
|Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore|
|Assumed office |
1 May 2019
|Prime Minister||Lee Hsien Loong|
|Preceded by||Tharman Shanmugaratnam |
Teo Chee Hean
|Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies|
|Assumed office |
27 July 2020
|Preceded by||Tharman Shanmugaratnam|
|Minister for Finance|
1 October 2015 – 14 May 2021
|Preceded by||Tharman Shanmugaratnam|
|Succeeded by||Lawrence Wong|
|Minister for Education|
21 May 2011 – 30 September 2015
|Member of Parliament |
for East Coast GRC
|Assumed office |
10 July 2020
|Member of Parliament |
for Tampines GRC
7 May 2011 – 23 June 2020
|Managing Director of the |
Monetary Authority of Singapore
1 June 2005 – 2 April 2011
|Preceded by||Koh Yong Guan|
|Succeeded by||Ravi Menon|
Heng Swee Keat
15 April 1961
|Political party||People's Action Party|
Chang Hwee Nee
|Alma mater||Christ's College, Cambridge (BA, MA) |
Harvard University (MPA)
Heng Swee Keat  is a Singaporean politician. A member of the governing People's Action Party (PAP), he has served as Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore since 1 May 2019 and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies since 27 July 2020.(born 15 April 1961)
Heng is the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Coast GRC. He was previously MP for Tampines GRC for Tampines Central from 7 May 2011 to 23 June 2020. He was previously Minister for Education from 21 May 2011 to 11 September 2015 and Minister for Finance from 1 October 2015 to 14 May 2021. 
He was widely believed to be poised to succeed Lee Hsien Loong as the next prime minister following his appointment as deputy prime minister in May 2019 and election as the PAP first assistant-secretary general in November 2018. Heng subsequently withdrew himself from the nomination in April 2021.
Prior to his election to Parliament and political career, he served as the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) from 2005 to 2011.
In 1983, Heng began his career in the Singapore Police Force where he was awarded the SPF Overseas Scholarship by President Devan Nair. 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. He then served as managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore from 2005 to 2011.
During the 2011 general election, Heng was a People's Action Party (PAP) candidate in Tampines GRC. When he was introduced as a candidate, former prime minister Goh Chok Tong tipped Heng to be a potential minister and core member of Singapore's fourth generation leadership team. Heng was one of five PAP candidates in his constituency in a team led by 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 secretary-general Goh Meng Seng, 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.
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 on 1 May.
2011–2015: Minister for Education
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 in 1984.
2015–2021: Minister for Finance
On 28 September 2015, it was announced that Heng would be the Minister of Finance from 1 October 2015. 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".
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.
2019–present: Deputy Prime Minister
On 23 April 2019, the Prime Minister's Office announced that Heng will assume the role as the 12th deputy prime minister 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. From 1985 to 2019, Singapore has always had two sitting deputy prime ministers concurrently. The unique circumstance of his sole posting, together with his appointment as first assistant secretary-general of the PAP in November 2018, the second most powerful position of the party after the secretary-general, is seen as paving him a clear way to the premiership by political observers.
On Nomination Day for the 2020 general elections on 30 June 2020, Heng contested in the East Coast GRC which surprised political observers because he had been expected to run for re-election in Tampines GRC where he had been the incumbent MP for two terms. He unveiled the PAP manifesto for the residents living in the East Coast Group Representation Constituency, titled “Together We Care @ East Coast”. The plan became popularly known as the “East Coast Plan” on social media and among Singaporeans.
During the campaigning period, a police report was lodged against Heng after comments which he made to a student forum at Nanyang Technological University in 2019 resurfaced. Whilst responding to a question on the possibility of an Indian prime minister by assistant professor Walid Jumblatt Abdullah from the university's School of Social Sciences, Heng had responded that the older generation was "not ready for a prime minister from a minority race" or someone that was non-Chinese. 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.
Heng was seen as the leading contender to be the next prime minister of Singapore after the 2020 election. He subsequently withdrew himself from the nomination on 8 April 2021, citing age and health concerns, though analysts also attributed the withdrawal to Heng's lower-than-expected result in East Coast GRC during the previous election.
On 12 May 2016, Heng 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. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was immediately appointed to cover Heng's duties.
On 25 June 2016, Heng was discharged from hospital after 6 weeks. The Prime Minister's Office said on a statement that Heng had 'made an excellent recovery", but was still on medical leave as he continued his rehabilitation. He resumed his duties as MP and Finance Minister on 22 August 2016.
He completed his secondary and pre-university education at Raffles Institution.
- Asia-Pacific Central Bank Governor of the Year award from the British banking magazine The Banker (2011)
- "Heng Swee Keat". Christ's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
- Parliamentary Elections Act (Chapter 218): Candidates declared to have been elected Members of Parliament at the 2011 general election (G.N. No. 1229/2011)
- Ang, Hwee Min (8 April 2021). "DPM Heng Swee Keat steps aside as leader of PAP 4G team, PM Lee accepts decision". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
- http://www.mha.gov.sg/news_details.aspx?nid=Nzk3-uw4ySnZavTA%3D[permanent dead link]
- Minister for Education Mr HENG Swee Keat, Cabinet of Singapore, 12 June 2012, archived from the original on 7 December 2013
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