PM’s new Cabinet

4th generation leaders to play key roles

Mr Ong Ye Kung (left) and Mr Ng Chee Meng (right), during campaigning for the Sept 11 polls. The two newly-elected MPs will jointly helm the Education Ministry. PM Lee said he had known both men before they entered politics and felt they were well-pl
Mr Ong Ye Kung (above) and Mr Ng Chee Meng, during campaigning for the Sept 11 polls. The two newly-elected MPs will jointly helm the Education Ministry. PM Lee said he had known both men before they entered politics and felt they were well-placed to head the ministry that will play a key role in creating more opportunities for Singaporeans.ST PHOTOS: AZIZ HUSSIN, CAROLINE CHIA
Mr Ong Ye Kung (left) and Mr Ng Chee Meng (right), during campaigning for the Sept 11 polls. The two newly-elected MPs will jointly helm the Education Ministry. PM Lee said he had known both men before they entered politics and felt they were well-pl
Mr Ong Ye Kung and Mr Ng Chee Meng (above), during campaigning for the Sept 11 polls. The two newly-elected MPs will jointly helm the Education Ministry. PM Lee said he had known both men before they entered politics and felt they were well-placed to head the ministry that will play a key role in creating more opportunities for Singaporeans.ST PHOTOS: AZIZ HUSSIN, CAROLINE CHIA

Move is significant as it underscores the urgency of leadership renewal for the Govt

Two political newcomers will be acting ministers in the new Cabinet, in a significant move that underscores the urgency of leadership renewal for the Government.

Mr Ong Ye Kung, 45, and Ng Chee Meng, 47, both elected in the Sept 11 polls, will jointly helm the Education Ministry.

With ministers from the 2011 batch taking on heavier responsibilities, and several other new MPs also being appointed to office, the fourth-generation leaders are all in place in the new Cabinet.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, unveiling the line-up yesterday, said he wanted a team ready to take over soon after the next election, due in five years' time."I'm making a decisive move in this new Cabinet and not just an incremental change... I'm putting many of the younger ones into the key ministries so that they can broaden their experience, learn the ropes and establish themselves quickly with each other and with the public."

Mr Lee, 63, who has said he hopes not to continue as PM beyond age 70, had made leadership renewal a key message in GE2015 which his People's Action Party (PAP) won with 69.9 per cent of the vote.

Mr Ong, a former top civil servant who was in the PAP team that lost in Aljunied GRC in 2011, and Mr Ng, the former Chief of Defence Force, will handle different portfolios at the Education Ministry.

They will also be Senior Ministers of State at the Defence and Transport ministries respectively.

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Lee said he had known both men before they entered politics, and felt they were well-placed to head the ministry that will play a key role in creating more opportunities for Singaporeans.

"I've put them there because this is a substantial job and also because I'm able to supervise or oversee and mentor them in this job," he said.

Political leaders primed to rise to the top are typically identified early and given important portfolios.

Both men, touted as being of ministerial calibre in the recent election, will round out the core group of the fourth-generation team put in place after the 2011 polls.

Some in the 2011 batch, already into their second term, will also be given other roles in the Cabinet.

Mr Heng Swee Keat will head the Finance Ministry while Mr Lawrence Wong will lead the National Development Ministry. Both ministries will play key roles as PM Lee has identified economic restructuring and the transformation of Singapore's physical environment as priorities in the next term of government.

Meanwhile, Mr Chan Chun Sing, labour chief and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, and Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development, will continue in their roles given in April.

Ms Grace Fu and Mr Masagos Zulkifli, who entered politics in 2006, will helm their own ministries for the first time, a signal that they too are part of the fourth-generation team. Ms Fu will head the Ministry of Culture Community and Youth, while Mr Masagos will lead the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.

Other new MPs, said to have leadership potential, were also made office-holders. Among them are Mr Chee Hong Tat, who will be Minister of State for Communications and Information and Health, Dr Koh Poh Koon, who will be Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, and Mr Amrin Amin, who will be Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs.

Yesterday, PM Lee said "it is most likely the future successor is in this Cabinet because there is no time".

"And if somebody else has to come from outside this Cabinet, it would mean something has gone very, very unexpectedly."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2015, with the headline '4th generation leaders to play key roles'. Print Edition | Subscribe