Why Swee Keat and Tharman are Same Same but Different…

ycheng28 / ST_03.12.2015_1533670882 / Tham Yuen-C / Alphonsus Chern // Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat at the Future Of Us exhibition at the Gardens By The Bay. Photographed 03 December 2015.


Today is Budget Day, and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat will be delivering his first Budget speech in his stint as Finance Minister.


He is Singapore’s 8th Finance Minister since independence in 1965.

But how similar or different will Minister Heng be from DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was Finance Minister until October last year?

The answer: Same same but different.

Here’s why:

Same Same

Monetary Authority of Singapore

Before entering politics, Minister Heng was the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) from 2005 to 2011.



Similarly, DPM Tharman was the managing director of MAS before he entered politics in 2001.

Educational Qualifications

Both ministers have a Bachelors of Economics and a Masters in Public Administration.

Ministry of Education

Prior to them helming the Finance Ministry, both ministers had a stint with the Education Ministry.

But Different

Secondary Education

DPM Tharman was educated at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) while Minister Heng studied in Raffles Institution.

Higher Education

While both possess the same qualifications, DPM Tharman got his Bachelors degree at the London School of Economics, while Heng got his at Cambridge.

Professional Career


DPM Tharman spent most of his professional career at MAS while Minister Heng started out at a police officer before becoming the director of Higher Education at MOE. He was also the Principal Private Secretary of the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew from 1997 to 2000.

Global Financial Crisis

During the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 and 2009, DPM Tharman introduced the Resilience Package to help Singaporeans tide through the downturn. At the MAS, Heng steered the economy through the crisis.

Entry into Politics

DPM Tharman left the MAS in 2001 to join as the People’s Action Party candidate for Jurong GRC in the General Elections.


10 years later, Minister Heng left the MAS to run as the PAP’s candidate for Tampines GRC in the elections.


The budget will be delivered at 3.30pm today. Catch it ‘live’ here.

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