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Heng Swee Keat promoted to Deputy Prime Minister from May 1

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FINANCE Minister Heng Swee Keat will be promoted to Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) with effect from May 1, the Prime Minister's Office announced in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

FINANCE Minister Heng Swee Keat will be promoted to Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) with effect from May 1, the Prime Minister's Office announced in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Heng will remain as Minister for Finance and continue to chair both the Future Economy Council and National Research Foundation. The promotion to DPM means Mr Heng will be appointed Acting Prime Minister when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is absent.

The two current DPMs, Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, will relinquish their appointments as DPMs with effect from the same date. They will both be appointed Senior Ministers and remain in Cabinet.

Mr Teo will continue as Coordinating Minister for National Security. Mr Tharman will be re‐designated as Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, but will continue to advise the prime minister on economic policies.

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These were the only changes announced in the first Cabinet reshuffle since May 2018. Last December, Mr Lee had said that changes to Cabinet would be announced after Budget 2019.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr Lee said: "The next generation leadership is taking shape, and progressively taking over from me and my older colleagues. The team is working closely together, building up public trust and confidence in their leadership."

"I ask all Singaporeans to support them, and work together to secure a bright future for Singapore," he added.

In a statement, Mr Heng said: "I am deeply honoured by the trust and confidence of the Prime Minister and my Cabinet colleagues in entrusting me with this appointment. I have benefited tremendously from the wise counsel and advice of PM Lee, DPMs Teo and Tharman, as well as my other Cabinet colleagues.

"My colleagues and I are united in our purpose to serve Singaporeans to the best of our abilities."

In a media statement, Mr Teo thanked Mr Lee and their colleagues for their support over the 10 years since he became DPM in April 2009, as well as congratulating Mr Heng and wishing him all the very best. "This is another important step in our leadership renewal," he added.

Saying he would continue in Cabinet to support Mr Lee and Mr Heng, and work with them, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing "and other younger leaders for the security, safety and success of our country," Mr Teo added: "This is the Singapore way of ensuring smooth leadership transition, continuity and stability. Senior leaders make way in good time for the next generation, share their experience and help the next generation of leaders to succeed."

He said that he hoped to continue having the support of Pasir Ris-Punggol residents to continue as their Member of Parliament at the next General Election.

Separately, Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC announced the appointment of Mr Tharman as deputy chairman from May 1. Mr Tharman has been a GIC director since May 2004 and chairman of its investment strategies committee since July 2011. As deputy chairman, he will assist Mr Lee, who is GIC chairman, "to lead the board in overseeing GIC’s long-term asset allocation and portfolio performance".