PM’s new Cabinet

Lawrence Wong to lead National Development

Cabinet's youngest minister, Mr Lawrence Wong, 42, will helm the Ministry of National Development (MND), which is responsible for national land-use planning and development.

His role will also include overseeing the Housing Board, as well as property cooling measures, which have been in place for some years.

Although there are fewer complaints about costly homes, some Singaporeans still worry that they cannot afford a HDB flat, while others wonder if the cooling measures could affect their property values in the long run.

Announcing this yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "(MND) will be a new area for him. It is an important portfolio that impacts all our lives."

"Already, he is overseeing master-planning for the Jurong Lake District but that is a very finite project," he said yesterday, referring to the steering committee for the development of the upcoming Jurong Lake Gardens and its surroundings, of which Mr Wong is chairman.

But Mr Wong will not go into the ministry, which also oversees statutory boards like the HDB and NParks, completely cold.

EMOTIONAL BONDS

In MND, the key issues revolve around housing and physical infrastructure. But it also deals with the softer aspects of creating emotional bonds.

MR LAWRENCE WONG

Said PM Lee: "Khaw Boon Wan hands over the portfolio in a good state, with the housing shortage largely solved and, as Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, will be able to guide Lawrence in his new responsibilities."

Mr Khaw, 62, leaves MND to head the Transport Ministry and takes up the new post of Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure.

The MND will also lose Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan, 53, who is leaving political office but will be a backbencher.

But Mr Wong will be aided by Mr Desmond Lee, 39, who has been at MND, but is promoted to senior minister of state, and newly-elected MP Koh Poh Koon, 43, who will be appointed minister of state.

Mr Wong hands over the reins of the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) to Ms Grace Fu, 51.

Mr Wong entered politics in 2011 and was appointed minister of state before becoming acting minister of the then newly created MCCY a year later. He was made full minister in May last year.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Wong, identified as a key member of the fourth-generation leadership, recounted the work he undertook over the last three years, including implementing free entry to museums for Singaporeans and ActiveSG credits to encourage more to take up sports.

The highlights of SG50 , he added, was hosting the South-east Asian Games and bringing home the Unesco World Heritage Site inscription for the Botanic Gardens .

As for his new portfolio, he said: "In MND, the key issues revolve around housing and physical infrastructure. But it also deals with the softer aspects of creating emotional bonds.

"So as I move to MND, I look forward to building on what I have learnt - to build a better home with Singaporeans, and to create better living spaces for all to enjoy, well beyond SG50!"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2015, with the headline 'Lawrence Wong to lead National Development'. Print Edition | Subscribe