SINGAPORE – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (July 25) announced his new Cabinet, in a reshuffle that will see six of the fifteen ministries headed by new ministers.
Seven of the PAP’s newly elected MPs have also been appointed as political office-holders, with the oldest in that batch – Dr Tan See Leng, 55 – made a full minister. He will be a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as Second Minister for Manpower and Trade and Industry.
Mr Lawrence Wong will move to the Education Ministry, while Mr Desmond Lee will relinquish his role as Minister for Social and Family Development to succeed him at the National Development Ministry.
Meanwhile, Mr Ong Ye Kung will move from the Education Ministry to head the Transport Ministry, which was formerly helmed by Mr Khaw Boon Wan, who has retired.
PM Lee added that the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources has undergone a name change, and is now known as the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment to better reflect its future role. It will be headed by Ms Grace Fu.
Mr Masagos Zulkifli will leave that ministry and move to helm the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
In addition, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will be taking on an additional role as Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.
Two former senior ministers of state have also been promoted. Mr Edwin Tong succeeds Ms Fu as Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, while Dr Maliki Osman is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office as well as Second Minister for Education and Foreign Affairs.
Mr Lee pointed to providing continuity, giving ministers exposure and renewal as three factors behind his Cabinet reshuffle.
The grave situation that Singapore is currently facing puts a premium on experience and a sure touch, said Mr Lee, who was speaking from the Istana at a press conference livestreamed on Facebook.
This is why most Cabinet ministers are experienced, with at least one term of government as political office-holders.
It is also why most of the older ministers – including Senior Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam – are staying on, he added.
“I’m rotating the ministers, especially the younger ones, to gain exposure and experience,” PM Lee added.
“We regularly do this during Cabinet shuffles, and the intent is to expose the office-holders to different portfolios to gain both breadth and depth to understand the intricacies of the issues, and to see things from different perspectives.”
Mr Lee was flanked by the Mr Heng and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, who are the People’s Action Party’s first and second assistant secretaries-general respectively.
Joining them at the press conference were Mr Desmond Lee, Dr Maliki Osman, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Dr Tan See Leng and Ms Gan Siow Huang.
Ms Gan, a former Republic of Singapore Air Force brigadier-general, has been appointed Minister of State for Education and Manpower.
The other new faces who have been appointed as Ministers of State are Mr Alvin Tan, Mr Desmond Tan and Mr Tan Kiat How.
New MP Eric Chua was appointed as a Parlaimentary Secretary.
Mr Alex Yam and Mr Mohd Fahmi Aliman have also been appointed as mayors of the North West and South East districts respectively.
In addition, among existing office-holders, Mr Zaqy Mohamad has been promoted to Senior Minister of State, while Ms Low Yen Ling, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, and Ms Sun Xueling have been promoted to Ministers of State.
Backbencher MP Rahayu Mahzam, meanwhile, will be appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Health Ministry.
The Cabinet and other office-holders will be formally sworn in on Monday.
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