Civil service head Peter Ong to retire on Sept 1; his successor is Leo Yip

Mr Leo Yip (left) will take over from Mr Peter Ong on Sept 1.
Mr Leo Yip (left) will take over from Mr Peter Ong on Sept 1.PHOTOS: PUBLIC SERVICE DIVISION
(From left) Mr Pang Kin Keong, Mr Lai Chung Han and Mr Loh Ngai Seng.
(From left) Mr Pang Kin Keong, Mr Lai Chung Han and Mr Loh Ngai Seng.PHOTOS: PMO/MINDEF/LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Civil service head Peter Ong, 56, will retire from the Administrative Service, after more than 31 years in the public sector.

Mr Ong, who is Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office and heads its Strategy Group, will be succeeded by Mr Leo Yip.

Mr Yip, 53, will take over Mr Ong's portfolio as well as his current duties when he leaves his post as Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs.

The changes will take place on Sept 1, said the Public Service Division (PSD) in a statement on Tuesday (July 18).

The PSD also announced a shuffle in three other permanent secretary appointments. They are in the transport, home affairs and education ministries.

Retiring civil head 'helped steer the economy through difficult times'

Paying tribute to Mr Ong's long years of service, the PSD said he "led with distinction in his various permanent secretary appointments".

He held various posts in the Ministry of Communications and Information, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Civil Service College and Ministry of Home Affairs before being seconded to Temasek Holdings. He was its executive vice-president from 1998 to 2000.

From 2000 to 2016, he successively held the positions of Permanent Secretary in the ministries of defence, transport, trade and industry, and finance.

In 2010, Mr Ong was appointed the head of the civil service while continuing as Permanent Secretary for Finance.

He was also made Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) and Permanent Secretary (National Security and Intelligence Coordination), both in the Prime Minister's Office. He relinquished the latter role in 2011.

In 2016, he relinquished all his posts and was made Permanent Secretary (Strategy) in the Prime Minister's Office.

In 2002 to 2005, when Mr Ong was Permanent Secretary for Transport, his key contributions included the opening of the North-East Line, the deregulation of the taxi industry, and various initiatives to strengthen Singapore's aviation and maritime competitiveness, the PSD said.

He also made significant contributions to Singapore's economic development as Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry.

The PSD credited him for the key role he played in formulating policies that helped to steer the economy through some difficult years, including the global recession in 2009.

As the Permanent Secretary for Finance, Mr Ong oversaw the successful implementation of several annual Budgets.

These included key measures such as the Grow and Share package in 2011 to share the fruits of economic growth, the Pioneer Generation Package to help with seniors' healthcare bills in 2014, and the MediShield Life universal insurance scheme in 2015.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, the minister in charge of the civil service, thanked Mr Ong "for his outstanding leadership and contributions to the Public Service".

Mr Teo praised him for building a bold and innovative public service, and delivering policies focused on citizens.

Mr Ong also guided the public service's move towards digital government, and used technology and data to craft better policies and serve Singaporeans, Mr Teo added.

Concurrent posts for Leo Yip

Mr Yip will take up Mr Ong's post as Permanent Secretary (Strategy) in the PMO.

He will continue his appointments as Permanent Secretary (National Security and Intelligence Coordination) and Permanent Secretary for the PMO , which includes overseeing the PMO's Communications Group.

He held various posts in the police force, including commander of the Clementi division, and director of operations, of planning and organisation.

He was also appointed the Principal Private Secretary to then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 2000.

Other changes

Replacing Mr Yip as Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs is Mr Pang Kin Keong.

Mr Pang, 51, will relinquish his appointment as Permanent Secretary for Transport, a post that will be filled by Mr Loh Ngai Seng, 46.

Mr Loh's existing position as Second Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs will be taken up by Mr Lai Chung Han, 44, who will continue as Second Permanent Secretary for Education.