Changes in permanent secretary appointments from May, as veteran civil servant retires

Permanent secretary for national development Benny Lim will be retiring on April 30 after a 37-year career in public service.
Permanent secretary for national development Benny Lim will be retiring on April 30 after a 37-year career in public service.PHOTO: PUBLIC SERVICE DIVISION

SINGAPORE - Nine top civil servants will take on more responsibilities or a change in portfolio under a significant reshuffle that will take effect from May 1.

The Public Service Division (PSD) on Tuesday (March 22) announced these changes to appointments in eight ministries.

Permanent Secretaries are appointed by the President to head a ministry, and take charge of implementing policies and programmes under the direction of the Minister.

The changes take effect as Mr Benny Lim, 59, who is permanent secretary for national development, retires on April 30, after a 37-year career in the public service.

Mr Lim is also permanent secretary in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and in charge of National Security and Intelligence Coordination.

The PSD credited him for transforming the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), where he served as second permanent secretary in 2004, and then as permanent secretary from 2005 to 2011, to "deal with the safety, security and terrorist challenges confronting Singapore in a post 9/11 world".

"His strong leadership has resulted in Singapore's crime, drug, fire fatality and recidivism rates being among the lowest in the world," it added.

The PSD also said there will be one new permanent secretary.

He is Media Development Authority (MDA) chief executive officer Gabriel Lim, 40, who will become second permanent secretary for communications and information from May 1.

From April 1, Mr Lim will also be co-managing director (designate) of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), and then co-managing director from May 27. The PSD said this is to prepare for the establishment of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) which will merge IDA and MDA later this year.

Mr Benny Lim's portfolio in the Ministry of National Development will be taken on by Mrs Ow Foong Pheng, 52, who is now permanent secretary for trade and industry.

She will also be in charge of the Municipal Services Office (MSO), which was set up in October 2014 to improve coordination across government agencies.

Mr Loh Khum Yean, 51, who is now permanent secretary for manpower, will take over Mrs Ow to oversee trade and industry.

Mr Aubeck Kam, 45, who is now permanent secretary for communications and information, will remain in the post and take on Mr Loh's role in the manpower ministry.

Meanwhile, head of civil service Peter Ong, 54, will also be appointed permanent secretary for strategy in the PMO.

This is a new role, following the creation of a strategy group in the PMO last July to support the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in "establishing priorities and strengthening strategic alignment across the Government", the PSD said.

Mr Ong will relinquish two of his appointments, as permanent secretary for special duties in the PMO, as well as for finance.

These two roles will be taken on by Mrs Tan Ching Yee, 51, who is the outgoing permanent secretary for health.

Her replacement at health is Mr Chan Heng Kee, 47, who is now permanent secretary for social and family development.

Taking over from Mr Chan is Mr Chew Hock Yong, 51, now the second permanent secretary for national development, and permanent secretary in charge of the MSO.

Meanwhile, Mr Leo Yip, 52, who is permanent secretary for home affairs, will be concurrently appointed permanent secretary in the PMO, and for National Security and Intelligence Coordination.