SINGAPORE — Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has “left behind big shoes to fill” at the Ministry of Finance (MOF), said Education Minister Lawrence Wong on Friday (23 April).
Wong, who will helm MOF next month, paid tribute to Heng as the outgoing Finance Minister in a post on Facebook. “He has helped steer our economy during this pandemic, and delivered five budgets over the past year alone. I have learnt a lot from him over the years, and value greatly his guidance and mentorship,” Wong said.
Acknowledging that Singapore’s economy remains weak, Wong added that the country must continue to find ways to sustainably finance its spending needs.
His comments come shortly after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a Cabinet reshuffle that will see seven ministers assuming new roles. All appointments will take effect on 15 May.
Among them, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing will become the next Education Minister.
Wong said he will leave the Ministry of Education (MOE) in good hands to Chan. He also expressed “some sadness” about leaving his current role at MOE, saying that he enjoys the chance to visit schools, chat with educators, and interact with students.
Chan said in a separate Facebook post that he is looking forward to continue serving Singapore in his new role.
“I will build on this system of ours to enable every generation of Singaporeans to realise their aspirations, whatever their starting circumstances and stations in life,” he added.
Chan said his successor as the head of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, has “vast experience”, and that he will continue to drive Singapore’s economic strategies, and help businesses and workers emerge stronger from the current crisis.
Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong will be succeeding Chan as Deputy Chairman of The People's Association (PA).
On Tong’s new role, Chan said, “He will find at PA a dedicated team of colleagues, working shoulder to shoulder with our many selfless grassroots leaders, volunteers and advisers, as well as community partners.”
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, who will be the next Health Minister, also acknowledged Gan’s huge contributions at the Ministry of Health in a Facebook post.
“As public servants, we go where we are needed...The Ministry is leading the effort to fight COVID-19, and in the long term, we need to ensure that even as our population ages, we will deliver quality and affordable healthcare to Singaporeans,” said Ong, will co-chair the multi-ministerial taskforce on COVID-19, together with Wong.
Ong also spoke about his stint at the Ministry of Transport including opening up air travel to some places, breaking new ground for Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System and closing the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project amicably with Malaysia, and launching sustainability plans for land transport.
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