Why It Matters

Runway for 4G leadership

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's decision to put a team of younger ministers in charge of the crucial task of transforming Singapore's economy is a significant move.

His announcement of members of the Future Economy Council sends an important political signal: the Cabinet of tomorrow is shaping up and taking on more responsibilities.

The council is the new name of the Council for Skills, Innovation and Productivity that was set up last year and helmed by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. The council's new head will be Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, PM Lee announced at Monday's May Day Rally.

Other members PM Lee named are Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills)Ong Ye Kung, and National Development and Second Finance Minister Lawrence Wong. Other ministers and ministers of state will be in this group too, he said.

The council's responsibilities include helping to implement the recommendations of the Committee on the Future Economy to grow the economy.

PM Lee's announcement, coming amid sluggish growth and concerns over jobs, reassures Singaporean workers and companies that the Government is making a concerted effort to help them meet the challenges of the future economy.

It also reassures people that Singapore's future leaders are being rigorously trained and tested, with their seniors at hand to guide them. This was done in the past: Mr Lee himself had led two committees charged with revamping the economy.

As Minister of State for Defence as well as Trade and Industry, he helmed the Economic Committee convened after the 1985 recession. Then, when he was deputy prime minister, he headed the Economic Review Committee formed in 2001, which included Mr Tharman, then a senior minister of state.

The Future Economy Council will be an important runway for Singapore's next Cabinet, and help ensure a smooth transition of power.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Runway for 4G leadership'. Print Edition | Subscribe