Singapore

Two promoted to full ministers as part of leadership renewal

Four ministers of state promoted in latest round of Cabinet changes

Mrs Josephine Teo and Mr Desmond Lee will be promoted to full ministers in the latest round of Cabinet changes, which observers said is meant to consolidate the front bench of tomorrow.

Four ministers of state will also be promoted to senior ministers of state: Dr Lam Pin Min, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Dr Koh Poh Koon and Mr Chee Hong Tat. They will continue in their current ministries.

Dr Lam will also be appointed Senior Minister of State for Transport.

TAKING EFFECT ON MONDAY

The changes are part of leadership renewal, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said yesterday. They take effect on Monday.

Political-watchers said the newly-promoted ministers will add to and strengthen the core team of fourth-generation leaders.

ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute research fellow Mustafa Izzuddin said: "The Prime Minister and his generation of ministers are building a team that can provide the necessary support to the next prime minister, so the next lap of Singapore's political leadership will continue to be a team effort."

Mrs Teo, 48, and Mr Lee, 40, will be Ministers in the PMO.

Mrs Teo will also be Second Minister in the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and give up her appointment in the Ministry of Transport. She will continue to oversee population matters, assisting Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

With Mrs Teo's promotion, it is Singapore's first time with two female full ministers in the Cabinet.

The milestone was not lost on her colleague - Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu - who hailed it as "yet another step forward for women" here.

Mr Lee will be Second Minister in his present ministries: the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development.

He will be one of the youngest full ministers in recent years.

CAUTIOUS

Experts called this Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's way of enlarging and strengthening the pool of leadership, while not throwing the rookie ministers in at the deep end.

"This is a cautious pace of leadership succession," said Institute of Policy Studies deputy director Gillian Koh.

"You don't see the standing down of senior members of the Cabinet, and you have the youngest set double-hatting a lot."

Observers saw Mrs Teo's move as a sign that she may be groomed to be the next Manpower Minister, especially given her past experience working in the labour movement.

Mrs Teo said of her MOM appointment: "It feels like I am coming home to Singapore's unique brand of tripartism at this critical juncture for our workers."

The new senior ministers of state have all been in office for under three years: Dr Lam since August 2014, Mr Chee since October 2015 and Dr Janil and Dr Koh since January 2016.

Observers say this steep trajectory signals they will likely become ministers if they prove themselves.

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