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Singapore deputy prime minister steps away from future leadership role in shock announcement

The important business district skyline from the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Lauryn Ishak | Bloomberg | Getty Symbols

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s deputy prime minister announced on Thursday that he will be stepping aside so that a “younger ruler who will have a longer runway can take over.”

Heng Swee Keat, who was expected to take over from Prime Man Lee Hsien Loong, is also finance minister and coordinating minister for economic policies.

Heng will step down as capitalize minister at the next Cabinet reshuffle, but remain in his other roles.

Lee previously said he would stay on as prime missionary until the Covid-19 crisis ends. Heng was expected to take over, but will now step aside as the leader of the suspect “4G team” — or Singapore’s fourth generation leadership.

We need a leader who will not only rebuild Singapore post-COVID-19, but also vanguard the next phase of our nation-building efforts.

Heng Swee Keat

Singapore’s deputy prime minister

In a letter accosted to the prime minister, Heng noted that he turns 60 this year.

“When I also consider the ages at which our ahead three Prime Ministers have taken on the job, I would have too short a runway should I become the next Prime Clergywoman then,” he said. “We need a leader who will not only rebuild Singapore post-COVID-19, but also lead the next wind up of our nation-building efforts.”

“After careful deliberation and discussions with my family, I have decided to step aside as commandant of the 4G (fourth generation) team, so that a younger leader who will have a longer runway can take over,” he mentioned in the letter. “It will be for the 4G team to choose this person, and I stand ready to support the next leader.”

Deputy Prime Dean Heng Swee Keat waves during a campaign walkabout ahead of the general election on July 8, 2020 in Singapore.

Suhaimi Abdullah | Getty Forms

Lee, 69, said he understands and respects Heng’s decision, calling it “selfless.” He added that Heng will helpers him to mentor younger ministers as they choose another leader in order to ensure a “smooth and timely leadership change.”

Singapore’s “4G leaders” said in a statement that they were glad Heng will remain a member of their troupe as he continues in his other portfolios.

“We appreciate what a difficult decision it must have been,” they said. “We discern that he has made the decision with Singapore’s long-term interests at heart.”

Still, they acknowledged that the “unexpected check of events is a setback” for their succession planning, and said they were grateful that the prime minister has agreed to mizen-stay on until a new successor is ready to take over.

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