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

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

Lauryn Ishak | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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

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

Heng will step down from his position as finance minister at the next Cabinet reshuffle.

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

In a letter addressed to Lee, Heng noted that he turns 60 this year.

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

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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