Singapore finance minister undergoes treatment after stroke

Reuters News
Posted: May 12, 2016 7:25 AM

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who had been tipped as a potential successor to prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, suffered a stroke and collapsed during a cabinet meeting on Thursday, the office of the city-state's prime minister said.

Heng, 54, a former managing director of the central bank Monetary Authority of Singapore, had been resuscitated and was being treated for his stroke, another minister said.

"We managed to resuscitate him, but he and his family will now need all our prayers and support as he undergoes critical procedures and treatment," Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on his Facebook page.

Earlier, the prime minister's office said Heng had collapsed during a cabinet meeting, at 5.34 p.m. on Thursday.

"He was taken to hospital immediately," Lee's office said in its statement. "A CT scan showed that he had a stroke. Doctors are attending to him now."

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 $290-billion 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.

(Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee, Saeed Azhar and Anshuman Daga; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)