4G minister in spotlight with new Cabinet reshuffle
They will helm 10 of 16 ministries after Cabinet reshuffle; no clear leader for PM, say political analysts
Mr Chan Chun Sing has been moved to the Trade and Industry Ministry (MTI).
In wide-ranging changes to the Cabinet announced yesterday, two other ministers touted as frontrunners for PM also received new appointments.
Mr Ong Ye Kung will now be the sole Minister of Education, while giving up his role as Second Minister for Defence.
He previously shared the education portfolio with Mr Ng Chee Meng, who will move to the Prime Minister's Office.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will assist Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on National Research Foundation matters, taking over from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.
Commenting on the Cabinet reshuffle, which saw changes in all but one ministry, PM Lee said the leadership transition is "well underway".
He wrote in a Facebook post yesterday: "I have decided to stretch the younger ones, giving many of them two ministries and additional responsibilities.
"The younger ministers will progressively take over more responsibility for governing Singapore... The leadership transition taking place in the next few years is well underway."
Fourth-generation leaders will helm 10 of the 16 ministries, and there will be three women ministers, the most ever.
Political analysts did not think the changes have given any of the three frontrunners a clear lead, but some say Mr Chan may have gained a slight edge.
CHAN CHUN SING
Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan said: "Looking at the changes today, I won't be surprised if he has a slight edge."
He noted Mr Chan's wide-ranging portfolio thus far, which includes his People's Association and National Trades Union Congress appointments, as well as being "the minister in charge of civil service".
Naional University of Singapore Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser said: "I think we still have three frontrunners, but I can see Mr Chan forging ahead... He has been given another key ministry... This further consolidates his position."
Institute of Policy Studies deputy director Gillian Koh said: "It is significant that Mr Chan has been moved back into government and into the MTI portfolio, which is certainly a ministry that any potential PM should spend time in."
SIM Global Education's comparative politics researcher Felix Tan said: "It's definitely a test for Chan Chun Sing, it will be different from his previous portfolios, and this is an important area in which he can show what he is capable of."
ONG YE KUNG
Associate Professor Eugene Tan said that with Singapore moving to a knowledge-based economy, Mr Ong staying put in education does not mean that he has fallen behind.
Dr Koh said Mr Ong will remain in contention if he gets another major portfolio in the next Cabinet reshuffle.
HENG SWEE KEAT
Prof Tan of NUS said: "MOF remains a key portfolio. Budget 2018 can be seen as a road map for Singapore going forward. (Mr Heng's) portfolio is critical for our current and future economy and society. I would argue he is still in the running for PM."
Dr Tan of SIM also thinks Mr Heng remains firmly in the running.
He said: "(Mr Heng) has provided much stability and contributed a lot to the portfolio and any changes would be a loss."
Noting no clear frontrunner for PM had emerged, Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, a research fellow at the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, said: "I don't think that was the main intention of this reshuffle. It was to put together a team rather than choose the leader of the team."
- ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SUE-ANN TAN
NEW MINISTER APPOINTMENTS
- Mr S. Iswaran
Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI)
- Mr Ong Ye Kung
Ministry of Education (MOE)
- Mr Chan Chun Sing
Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)
- Mrs Josephine Teo
Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
- Mr Ng Chee Meng
Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
- Ms Indranee Rajah
PROMINENT 4G IN NEW ROLES
- Mr Heng Swee Keat gets additional role of helping PM with National Research Foundation
- Mr Chan Chun Sing moves to MTI from PMO and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)
- Mr Ong Ye Kung takes on full MOE portfolio, drops Ministry of Defence
- Mr Ng Chee Meng moves to PMO and NTUC, drops Ministry of Transport and MOE portfolios
- Mr Edwin Tong
Senior Minister of State in Ministry of Law and Ministry of Health
- Mr Zaqy Mohamad
Minister of State in Ministry of National Development (MND) and MOM
- Ms Sun Xueling Senior Parliamentary
Secretary in Ministry of Home Affairs and MND
- Dr Tan Wu Meng
Secretary in Ministry of Foreign Affairs and MTI
- Mr Lim Hng Kiang (MTI)
- Mr Lim Swee Say (MOM)
- Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (MCI)
No surprises from Cabinet reshuffle: Analysts
There were few surprises in the Cabinet reshuffle announced yesterday, said analysts.
Said Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan: "The changes are not as extensive as I expected. Perhaps I read too much into the Prime Minister's comment that the reshuffle will involve every ministry.
"The movements are not very significant, especially regarding the portfolio and assignments of the 4G leaders."
The Cabinet will now see two-thirds of the ministries filled by younger ministers. There will also be three women ministers.
Associate Professor Tan said that the rotation of ministries could be part of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's new approach to Cabinet building.
He said:"Finding good leaders remains important, but there is a move to place focus on the team as well.
"Rather than just focus on the individuals, the new appointments ensure that younger ministers and the junior ministers at minister of state levels have an opportunity to try out many ministries.
"This will ensure a broad base where ministers have as much experience as possible."
He said for the four first-time office holders - Dr Tan Wu Meng, Mr Edwin Tong, Ms Sun Xueling and Mr Zaqy Mohamad - the appointments could be a test given that they are from the private sector.
Commenting on the move to make Mr Lim Hng Kiang special adviser to the Ministry for Trade and Industry, the Institute of Policy Studies deputy director Gillian Koh said: "We know that Mr Lim was very much involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as regional integration in Asean and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
"These are highly technical issues, they are also very much tied to the networks of policy-makers across many regions.
"So the move allows Minister Chan Chun Sing to ride on, not lose, the network, as well as the technical nuances that will help him carry out this important work forward for Singapore."- LIM MIN ZHANG & CHEOW SUE-ANN