Josephine Teo comments on likelihood of her stepping into shoes of Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say

Second Manpower Minister Josephine Teo at the launch of national jobs portal on April 17, 2018.
Second Manpower Minister Josephine Teo at the launch of national jobs portal on April 17, 2018.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Second Manpower Minister Josephine Teo gave little away when asked by reporters on Tuesday (April 17) about the possibility of her rising to helm the ministry.

She, however, noted her long years working on manpower issues, saying: "When it comes to (the Manpower Ministry) I have a much longer engagement because I did spend quite a number of years in the labour movement."

Mrs Teo, who joined the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) last May, was assistant secretary-general at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) from 2007 to 2011.

The Straits Times had reported on Saturday that Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say is expected to step down in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, with Mrs Teo likely to take over.

Ms Teo, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs, made these comments to reporters even as she stressed that she found the work at all three ministries meaningful.

A Cabinet reshuffle is imminent and with a smile, she told the reporters at a roadshow on government job schemes to be patient.

"I don't think we have to wait very much longer till the Cabinet reshuffle is announced, and we just have to be a little bit more patient, we will come to that."

Meanwhile, Mrs Teo spoke glowingly of Mr Lim, who was NTUC's secretary-general from 2007 to 2015.

Breaking into Mandarin, she said: "Mr Lim is a good minister and a rare breed, given his energy and his many years of experience in the labour movement."

Continuing in English, she added: "We have worked together for many years, since about 20 years ago in the Economic Development Board, then in the labour movement.

" Finally we were matched in MOM again, and I feel that we work together very well, and happily."

Asked about her role in shaping the President's Address and ministry's addenda, which will be delivered when Parliament reconvenes next month (May), she stressed it was a team effort.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said the President's Address, which will set the agenda for the rest of the term, will be drafted by the fourth-generation ministers.

Said Mrs Teo: "It's certainly a collective effort, and where MOM is concerned, the top issue Singaporeans want to know is what kind of future will it be for working Singaporeans.

"Will we be able to get better jobs, will we be able to earn higher incomes, will we be able to find a workforce that is more inclusive and will we be able to find workplaces that are more progressive? Will we have security in retirement?

"Those are the areas that people are very interested in and, of course, we will want to articulate how we hope to be able to achieve this," she said. Mrs Teo also highlighted how various agencies work together in tackling issues.

"For example, MOM works on raising the bar in terms of helping workers to access job opportunities, but the career opportunities and the better jobs must first be created. And for that, we need our economic agencies to lead the way," she said.