PM’s new Cabinet

Masagos to take charge of MEWR, help handle Muslim affairs

Mr Masagos Zulkifli to helm Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.
Mr Masagos Zulkifli to helm Ministry of Environment and Water Resources. BERITA HARIAN PHOTO: TUKIMAN WARJI

Six months after being promoted to a minister, Mr Masagos Zulkifli will be given a ministry of his own to helm from Thursday: Environment and Water Resources.

With his appointment as Minister in the Prime Minister's Office in April, the 52-year-old had also moved up to be Second Minister in the Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs ministries.

In his new appointment, he will have to deal with the tough environmental challenges that lie ahead of and extend beyond Singapore. At the top on his mind is the haze.

"I hope to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international bodies so we can deal with whoever pollutes the air and affects our health, and overcome this well and thoroughly," he said yesterday.

When announcing Mr Masagos' new appointment yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said water will always be a strategic resource for Singapore, and climate change and sustainability are high on the international agenda.

Mr Masagos will also help Dr Yaacob Ibrahim handle affairs relating to the Muslim community and is expected to become deputy chairman of self-help group Mendaki.

He said yesterday that he has engaged the community on behalf of the Government to address the issue of extremism, and that he hopes to work with Dr Yaacob and the Malay MPs to cover a wider range of issues.

Dr Yaacob, 61, remains Communications and Information Minister and oversees Muslim affairs and cyber security.

He holds an important and sensitive portfolio, Mr Lee said.

IT and technology are enablers in upgrading the economy and transforming Singapore, and new media is rapidly changing the industry landscape and the way people share and consume news, Mr Lee added.

Other Malay MPs will take on new responsibilities as well.

Dr Maliki Osman, 50, will be promoted to Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, while Dr Faishal Ibrahim, 47, will be Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Social and Family Development.

Newly elected MP Amrin Amin will be Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs. At 36, he is the youngest office-holder.

Said Mr Lee: "I hope this opportunity will be the starting point for him to make larger contributions."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2015, with the headline 'Masagos to take charge of MEWR, help handle Muslim affairs'. Subscribe