Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, tipped as a potential successor to the prime minister, is stable after undergoing neurosurgery following a stroke.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on his Facebook page yesterday that he had visited Heng, 54, in the intensive care unit in hospital.
“He was sedated. His condition is stable, but he will remain in the ICU for some time,” he said.
Heng collapsed during a cabinet meeting on Thursday after suffering a stroke caused by an aneurysm.
He underwent neurosurgery to relieve pressure on his brain.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was named to cover his duties.
Tharman, 59, stepped down from his role as finance minister in October after Lee inducted younger people in key ministries as part of preparations for a leadership transition.
Tharman was named the co-ordinating minister for economic and social policies and also continued as the chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the central bank.
Heng, a former managing director of the central bank, collapsed at 5.34pm on Thursday and was rushed to hospital.
The other potential candidates to succeed Lee, who has said he will hand over power by 2020, are Chan Chun Sing, a minister in the prime minister’s office and Tan Chuan-Jin, the minister for social and family development.
Heng, a former education minister, won praise from Singapore’s first prime minister, the late Lee Kuan Yew, as being the best principal private secretary he ever had.
In his maiden budget in March, Heng announced support for the Southeast Asian nation’s battered offshore marine sector and small businesses, but made no big stimulus moves for the $290bn economy slowing from a global downturn.
“He came across as somebody who is on the ball, a good listener, and has a view on what needs to be done for the economy,” said Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB private bank.
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