Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Sunday (26 July) that the People’s Action Party (PAP)’s fourth-generation (4G) leaders are in “complete unity” behind the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, while stressing there is no discussions or questions needed on that.
As part of the 4G leadership team, Dr Balakrishnan noted, “We are – all of us – in complete unity behind the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, so there’s no need for any discussions or questions on that. We are in absolute unity under his leadership.”
His remarks came after the announcement of new Cabinet on Saturday (25 July), which sees DPM Heng taking on an additional appointment as Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.
DPM Heng is also expected to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after the latter retires. PM Lee had said during the recent election that he would see the current pandemic through.
Speaking about the implications of the new Cabinet line-up, Dr Balakrishnan reiterated what PM Lee said on Saturday that the Cabinet reshuffle “reflects the need for continuity, the need for rotation and the need for renewal”.
“And if you look carefully at the composition and in fact, at the moves that the Prime Minister has made, it reflects all these three priorities,” he added.
When asked if the 4G leaders had discussed or reviewed their position backing Mr Heng as their leader, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that they “have no plans and no discussions” on the matter.
Mr Chan said, “We’re entirely focused on helping our country overcome the economic challenges and saving jobs at this point in time.
“We have no plans to do otherwise and we have no plans, no discussion on any change in plan,” he remarked.
Following Ministers’ remarks regarding the Party’s succession plan, many netizens voiced their opinions on the Facebook page of The Straits Times and CNA about Mr Heng’s selection by its 4G leadership team.
Compared with Dr Balakrishnan’s “direct and completely unambiguous response”, some netizens pointed out that Mr Chan’s response was “ambiguous” and “vague”, which did not give a firm and comprehensible response on the succession plan.
However, a few netizens commented about Dr Balakrishnan’s remark, saying that he has to learn to be honest and truthful to the citizens, instead of using “diplomacy” with their own citizens.
Edmund Yee also opined that the words of “complete unity” is dangerous, as it means that the leader’s decisions will be always supported by the Ministers regardless right or wrong.
“This is exactly why voters are going for the opposition, because no one leader can be completely right to warrant complete unity or complete obedience from ministers,” he said.A Facebook user, Patrick D Soh, however, felt that the so-called 4G leaders are “not there yet”, citing previous sagas triggered by the Ministers.
While the Ministers showed their support for DPM Heng, a handful of netizens also reminded that the residents are awaiting the DPM Heng’s East Coast plan which has yet to be revealed.
“Talk is cheap. Start taking actions and prove your leadership,” one netizen wrote.
Led by Mr Heng, the PAP team won the East Coast GRC seat in the recent GE with 53.41 per cent of the votes, beating the Workers’ Party (WP)’s team of Dylan Ng, Kenneth Foo, Nicole Seah, Terence Tan and Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, which garnered 46.59 per cent of the votes.