Winds of change in Cabinet

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced here on Friday a Cabinet reshuffle, with seven of the 15 ministries to be headed by new ministers starting from May 15.

Minister for Education and the Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong will replace Heng Swee Keat as the Finance Minister.

Ong Ye Kung will transfer from the Minister for Transport to the Minister for Health, and co-chair the multi-ministry task force handling Covid-19 with Lawrence Wong.

Meanwhile, Chan Chun Sing will relinquish his post as the Minister for Trade and Industry to become the Ministry of Education.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong will preside over the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran will be Minister for Transport, with Manpower Minister Josephine Teo replacing him at the ministry.

Second Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng will move up to head the Ministry of Manpower.

Speaking at a press conference, Lee noted that he is making a more extensive reshuffle than is usual this early in the term of government, which began last July after the general election.

Lee said he had considered making these changes after the general election, but the country was still in the thick of battling Covid-19.

According to him, he is now able to do so as the Covid-19 situation is more stable.

After quitting his post as the Finance Minister, Heng will continue to act as the Deputy Prime Minister and the Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies. He will also continue to co-chair the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation, the highest bilateral platform between Singapore and China.National University of Singapore political scientist Elvin Ong cautioned against viewing Wong’s new role as a sure sign of him becoming future PM – as DPM Heng once was.

“There is no tradition nor rule for them to automatically become Prime Ministers, ” said Assistant Professor Ong, noting that Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Dr Richard Hu were among past Finance Ministers who did not become PM.

On Chan’s move to Education after three years at the Trade and Industry ministry, the view was that this gives him a new platform to engage Singaporeans.

Assistant Professor Walid Jumblatt Abdullah from Nanyang Technological University viewed the move as an opportunity for Chan to burnish his public image, given the greater exposure offered by MOE. — Xinhua/The Straits Times/ANN

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