Younger ministers promoted as part of leadership renewal

Mr Ng Chee Meng (left) and Mr Ong Ye Kung were elected for the first time in September last year, and their promotions are the first since this Cabinet was formed.
Mr Ng Chee Meng (left) and Mr Ong Ye Kung were elected for the first time in September last year, and their promotions are the first since this Cabinet was formed.PHOTOS: MOE

Ng Chee Meng, Ong Ye Kung to become full ministers as leadership transition gains pace

The promotion of Mr Ng Chee Meng and Mr Ong Ye Kung to full ministers announced yesterday is one of the fastest moves up the Cabinet ladder in recent years.

It comes about 12 months after their appointment and underscores the gathering pace of transition to the fourth-generation leadership.

Both will retain their existing portfolios when the promotions take effect on Nov 1, the Prime Minister's Office said yesterday.

In a Facebook post later, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the promotion is part of the ongoing succession plans."Building a leadership team is one of my top priorities," he said. "These changes are part of the renewal process, to reinforce my Cabinet and get a younger team in place, ready to take over."

PM Lee had earlier said that he planned to step down some time after the next election, which must be held by April 2021.

 
 

Mr Ng and Mr Ong were elected for the first time in September last year, and their promotions are the first since this Cabinet was formed.

They were initially appointed Acting Ministers for Education, with Mr Ng, 48, handling the Schools portfolio and Mr Ong, 46, overseeing Higher Education and Skills.

From Nov 1, Mr Ng will also be Second Minister for Transport and Mr Ong, Second Minister for Defence.

Their colleagues were swift in their congratulations. Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing said on Facebook: "Congrats to Chee Meng and Ye Kung for the well-deserved promotions! Looking forward to a nice lunch."

Both Mr Ng and Mr Ong said they were grateful for PM Lee's confidence in them.

Mr Ng said: "Together with Ye Kung, my MOE (Ministry of Education) colleagues and our teachers, we will continue to build upon the good work done, equipping our young with skills for the future through a forward-looking curriculum focused on strengthening resilience and inculcating a 'can do' spirit, built on sound values that have made Singapore what it is today."

Mr Ong said he was fortunate to be able to work alongside "wonderful and hardworking teams of colleagues and partners".

"Our common vision is a Singapore society that recognises and values a wide range of talent and contributions that goes far beyond academic grades, and which reflects the diverse interests and aspirations of our people," he said.

"In the coming years, we will continue to evolve our higher education system, broaden our concept of meritocracy and uncover the lifelong learner in all of us."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2016, with the headline 'Younger ministers promoted as part of leadership renewal'. Print Edition | Subscribe