Senior public servants step down, likely to contest GE

From left: Mr Tan Kiat How will step down as chief executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority. Other senior public servants who have recently stepped down are Mr Yip Hon Weng, former group chief of the Silver Generation Office under the Ag
From left: Mr Tan Kiat How will step down as chief executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority. Other senior public servants who have recently stepped down are Mr Yip Hon Weng, former group chief of the Silver Generation Office under the Agency for Integrated Care, and Ms Ng Ling Ling, who was chief of future primary care and director of community engagement at the Health Ministry's Office for Healthcare Transformation.PHOTOS: MCI, CHONG JUN LIANG, JOYCE FANG

Latest to leave is IMDA chief who is tipped to be fielded in East Coast GRC under PAP banner

Mr Tan Kiat How, 43, will step down from his post as chief executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Saturday.

He is the latest of several senior public servants to leave their posts. Party sources say they are set to enter politics under the banner of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in the upcoming general election.

Mr Tan is tipped to be fielded in East Coast GRC, which was also contested by the Workers' Party in previous elections. Two incumbent MPs are expected to leave - Mr Lim Swee Say and Mr Lee Yi Shyan.

Mr Tan was a guest speaker at a webinar on digitalisation with East Coast GRC MPs and residents last Saturday. He also took part in a webinar on job opportunities and digital skills hosted by Mr Lee earlier this month.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said Mr Tan will be succeeded by current deputy CEO Lew Chuen Hong, a former chief of navy, as part of leadership renewal.

Other senior public servants who have recently stepped down are Mr Yip Hon Weng, former group chief of the Silver Generation Office under the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), and Ms Ng Ling Ling, who was chief of future primary care and director of community engagement at the Health Ministry's Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT) until end-March.

Mr Yip, 43, left the public service on Friday "to pursue other career opportunities in line with his professional goals and interests", said the AIC in a statement yesterday. Ms Ng, 48, is now an independent senior consultant at MOHT.

When approached, Mr Tan said his plans are still being firmed up, and "it would be premature to share them now". He added he will be taking a short break to prepare for the arrival of his first child in August.

Mr Tan said the Covid-19 pandemic poses both a crisis and an opportunity: "I will want to continue leveraging my experience, especially in the area of digital technology, to contribute to this effort."

The PAP's line-up of new faces for each election has typically included a mix of senior public servants and Singapore Armed Forces officers.

KEY ROLE IN DIGITAL S'PORE

Domestically, Kiat How has also played a key role in fostering a digitally inclusive society by keeping a close sense of the ground to address people's concerns with going digital, and enabling workers to seize exciting opportunities in the tech sector, so that all Singaporeans have a part in our digital future.

MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION S. ISWARAN, thanking Mr Tan Kiat How for his work on furthering Singapore's digital economy ambitions.

Mr Desmond Tan, 49, a former brigadier-general, left his post as CEO of the People's Association yesterday. He did not indicate his next move, but had told The Straits Times earlier this month that he hopes to continue to serve the community "in other capacities".

Former air force brigadier-general Gan Siow Huang, 45, who is now deputy CEO of the National Trades Union Congress' (NTUC) Employment and Employability Institute, is also tipped to be a PAP candidate, as is former army colonel Mohd Fahmi Aliman. Mr Fahmi, 47, stepped down as deputy CEO of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore in March and is now with NTUC.

Apart from Mr Tan, Mr Yip and Ms Ng have also featured prominently in virtual discussions with residents and grassroots leaders over the past few months, along with other potential new faces.

 
 

In Ang Mo Kio GRC, Ms Ng joined MP Intan Azura Mokhtar for an online Meet-the-People Session in Jalan Kayu last Thursday, while Mr Yip took part in a meeting with Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon and Silver Generation Ambassadors earlier this month. Dr Koh oversees the Yio Chu Kang ward, which has been carved out as a single seat under the latest electoral boundary changes.

Mr Tan was appointed CEO of IMDA in 2017. In its statement, MCI said that under his leadership, the organisation took steps to build up Singapore's connectivity infrastructure, such as the roll-out of the country's fourth telco, and the awarding of 5G licences.

IMDA also worked with the Trade and Industry Ministry on the new Digital Economy Partnership Agreement between Singapore, Chile and New Zealand, signed last Friday.

Mr Tan also set up the SG Digital Office, building up a network of ambassadors to help the less digitally savvy acquire needed skills.

 
 

In a Facebook post yesterday, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran thanked Mr Tan for his work to further Singapore's digital economy ambitions.

"Domestically, Kiat How has also played a key role in fostering a digitally inclusive society by keeping a close sense of the ground to address people's concerns with going digital, and enabling workers to seize exciting opportunities in the tech sector, so that all Singaporeans have a part in our digital future," he wrote.

Before taking up the top post at IMDA, Mr Tan was deputy secretary for cyber and technology at MCI, where he worked on Singapore's national cyber security strategy. He has also worked at the Finance Ministry and Pioneer Generation Office.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2020, with the headline 'Senior public servants step down, likely to contest GE'. Print Edition | Subscribe