The three veteran ministers retiring from the Cabinet today account for 66 years on the front bench collectively. That figure indicates the extent of the contributions made by Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang; Manpower Minister and former labour chief Lim Swee Say; and Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs. Like their predecessors in political office, each faced up to new challenges while holding on to the fundamentals that made Singapore what it is. Public policy hardly ever offers a clear-cut choice between right and wrong; if that were the case, the decisions would be simple. Rather, sound policies reflect the often hard decisions that need to be taken to make the most of a difficult situation. Policies also have to be accompanied by the kind of politics that can convey their rationale to an increasingly demanding citizenry. And while the civil service supports the making of good policies, the task of convincing and explaining has to be done by ministers.
The three veterans did so in their own ways and are leaving their mark on the evolution of politics and society here. Business is Singapore's business, and Mr Lim Hng Kiang's contributions to the trade and industry portfolio over 14 years go to the heart of the country's economic progress. The 2008 financial crisis - which, it was feared, would inaugurate a new Great Depression - tested the sinews of Singapore's ability to react to catastrophic developments. His able stewardship of his ministry underscored the steady and determined efforts Singapore made, and it emerged stronger from the global downturn.
TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Thank you for reading The Straits Times
You have reached one of our Premium stories. To continue reading, get access now or log in if you are a subscriber.
What is Premium?