Senior Parliamentary Secretary Tan Wu Meng among 3 political office-holders to retire from Cabinet

(From left) Political office-holders Khaw Boon Wan, Sam Tan and Tan Wu Meng will retire in this round of Cabinet changes. ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN, KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry Tan Wu Meng will retire from political office to return to medical practice, the only young political office-holder to leave the Cabinet in the latest reshuffle.

Dr Tan, 45, is among three political office-holders who will retire in this round of Cabinet changes.

The other two are Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, 67, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Social and Family Development Sam Tan, 61, who both announced their retirement from politics in June and did not stand for election.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, announcing the changes to his team on Saturday (July 25), thanked all three men for their contributions in Government.

Most of the changes will take effect from Monday.

In a virtual press conference, PM Lee said Dr Tan, who was appointed as Senior Parliamentary Secretary in 2018, had asked to leave the Government to return to medical practice.

He noted that as Senior Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tan had ably represented Singapore's interests at international meetings.

At the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Dr Tan looked after consumer interest and advised a pro-enterprise panel to help small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups.

"I thank Tan Wu Meng for his contributions in Government, and look forward to more good work from him as a senior MP in Jurong GRC," added PM Lee.

Shortly after the announcement, Dr Tan, an oncologist by training who joined politics in 2015, posted on Facebook that while his time in the Government has been meaningful, his "first love" was always in personally looking after patients and people.

He had said the same to PM Lee in a letter, which he also made public.

"I remain fully committed to serving as a PAP MP and look forward to contributing actively in Parliament, while looking after the interests of residents with full heart and full effort, together with my fellow MPs in Jurong GRC," wrote Dr Tan.

Meanwhile, both Mr Khaw and Mr Tan had been expected to retire from their Cabinet roles after stepping down from politics.

Mr Khaw leaves after a political career spanning nearly 20 years.

PM Lee noted on Saturday that Mr Khaw had been in his Cabinet "since Day One", adding: "I'm happy that he will continue to make himself available to advise the younger ministers on issues that he is familiar with, and to share his experience and wisdom."

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With Mr Khaw's departure, his transport portfolio will go to Mr Ong Ye Kung, while the role of Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure will be left unfilled.

PM Lee also disclosed that Mr Khaw, who was hospitalised with dengue fever earlier this week, had been discharged on Saturday after having recovered. "I wish him good health and a peaceful and active retirement," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Tan will also step down from his role as chairman of the Government's feedback unit Reach.

Taking over from him will be newly minted MP Tan Kiat How, who was former chief executive of the Info-communications Media Development Authority.

Since joining politics in 2006, Mr Sam Tan has held portfolios in multiple ministries including Foreign Affairs, Manpower, and Culture, Community and Youth. He was also mayor for central district for one term.

Said PM Lee: "He's been invaluable to the team, because he's close to the Chinese ground, and has given us reliable feedback on how the community views issues."

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