Heng Swee Keat: The Future of US-China-Singapore Relations

Prof Michael Barr provides his views and insights to Heng Swee Keat at an interview with The Diplomat author Mercy A. Kuo.

Q: Describe Singaporean Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s leadership style and how Heng is positioning himself as Singapore’s leader-in-waiting.

Heng is not so much positioning himself as leader-in-waiting, as he is being positioned. Since his elevation as heir apparent, Heng has been retrospectively credited with pulling Singapore through the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. We can expect more headlines like this as the government’s public relations machinery builds his image. They did the same thing for Lee Hsien Loong when he was readying himself to take over as the new prime minister. One distinctive feature of Heng’s image making is that he is being set up as a bit of a friendly “everyman.” Presumably this is because of the absence of any obvious evidence that he is either academically brilliant or a great communicator.

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