PM Lee to make bigger changes to Cabinet team next year

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivering his speech at the National Day Rally 2016 held at the Institute of Technical Education College Central campus in Ang Mo Kio on Aug 21, 2016.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivering his speech at the National Day Rally 2016 held at the Institute of Technical Education College Central campus in Ang Mo Kio on Aug 21, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday said he plans to make bigger changes to his team next year, and will put new ministers in charge of some ministries.

His comments came two days after he promoted senior ministers of state Josephine Teo and Desmond Lee to full ministers in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

"This one is not a full set of changes. I expect to do a much bigger change next year... there will be more ministers, more changes by that time and then more new ministers will be helming their own ministries," he told Singapore reporters after attending the Asean Summit.

PM Lee has stressed the urgency of succession planning, especially in recent years. At last year's National Day Rally, he said he planned to step down soon after the next general election, due by April 2021.

The PMO had said that the latest changes, which take effect on Monday, are part of leadership renewal.

Asked about the reshuffle, Mr Lee said he had promoted the ministers because they deserved it.

"They've shown that they are capable of more responsibilities. They have done good work and I expect them to do even more," he added.

Also in the latest reshuffle, four ministers of state will 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.

As for the new ministers, Mrs Teo will also be Second Minister for Manpower and Foreign Affairs, while Mr Lee will be Second Minister in his present ministries of Home Affairs and National Development.

Observers said this could mean that Mrs Teo, who has worked in the labour movement, is being groomed to be the next manpower minister.

PM Lee said he had assigned Mrs Teo to the Manpower Ministry to shadow Minister Lim Swee Say. "They've worked together for a long time so I think that should work well," he said.

As for Mr Desmond Lee, who at 40 will be one of the youngest full ministers in recent years, PM Lee quipped: "I've left him at (MHA and MND) and I'm sure his ministers, knowing that he is a minister, will give him more work to do."

Other office holders promoted in the reshuffle include parliamentary secretaries Low Yen Ling and Faishal Ibrahim, who will be senior parliamentary secretaries.

Minister of State Sam Tan and Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin will take on an additional portfolio each.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck asked to step down from office on June 30 and return to the private sector. But he will still be an MP for Pasir Ris- Punggol GRC.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 30, 2017, with the headline 'PM Lee to make bigger changes to Cabinet team next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe