Cabinet changes: Josephine Teo, Desmond Lee promoted to full ministers

  • Chee Hong Tat, Janil Puthucheary, Koh Poh Koon and Lam Pin Min made Senior Ministers of State
  • Teo Ser Luck to step down from public service at his request, will continue as MP
Both Mrs Teo and Mr Lee will be appointed Ministers in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
Both Mrs Teo and Mr Lee will be appointed Ministers in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Junior ministers Josephine Teo and Desmond Lee were promoted to full ministers in a round of Cabinet changes announced on Thursday (April 27).

Mrs Teo will be appointed Minister in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), and Second Minister in the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Lee will also be appointed Minister in the Prime Minister's Office. He will also be Second Minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development, his present ministries.

The changes take place on May 1.

Ministers of State Lam Pin Min, Janil Puthucheary, Koh Poh Koon and Chee Hong Tat were also promoted to Senior Ministers of State, and will continue in their current ministries.

(From left) Ministers of State Janil Puthucheary, Chee Hong Tat, Koh Poh Koon and Lam Pin Min.  PHOTO: ST FILE

These changes are part of leadership renewal, said the PMO in a statement.

Parliamentary secretaries Low Yen Ling and Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim will be promoted to senior parliamentary secretaries in their current ministries. Ms Low is in the trade and industry and education ministries, while Associate Professor Faishal is in the education and social and family development ministries.

The changes further solidify the core of Singapore's fourth generation of political leaders, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been strengthening with successive rounds of Cabinet shuffles in recent years.


Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck will step down and return to the private sector on June 30, at his request.

Full ministers

Mrs Teo's promotion makes this the first time Singapore has two female full ministers in the Cabinet.

Mrs Teo, 48, was first made a senior minister of state in September 2013 and holds three portfolios in transport, foreign affairs, and the Prime Minister's Office.

She will continue in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Second Minister, but will relinquish her appointment in the Ministry of Transport.

Mrs Teo will continue to oversee population matters, assisting Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Mr Lee, 40, is one of the youngest full ministers in recent years.

He cut his teeth in the Ministry of National Development (MND), where he was a minister of state for two years from 2013 to 2015. He was promoted to senior minister of state for National Development and Home Affairs in October 2015.


Most recently, he helmed the changes to the Town Councils Act in March.

He is also Deputy Leader of the House, and helps with setting the agenda and the order of business of Parliament.

Before entering politics in 2011, he was an in-house counsel at Temasek Holdings. He had previously been a legal service officer with experience in the Supreme Court, the Attorney General's Chambers and the law and health ministries.

Junior ministers and officeholders

Dr Lam, 47, who is in the Ministry of Health, will also be appointed as Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport.

Mr Chee, 43, was a senior civil servant who entered politics in September 2015.

He became Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Health on Oct 1, 2015.

His colleague Dr Janil was a paediatrician before running in the 2011 general election.

The 44-year-old became Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Education on Jan 1, 2016.

On that same day, Dr Koh, 45, was also made Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry.

The former colorectal surgeon was elected in the 2015 General Election after an unsuccessful campaign in the 2013 Punggol East by-election.

New appointments

Minister of State Sam Tan Chin Siong will take on a foreign affairs portfolio, in addition to his current ones in the Manpower Ministry and the PMO.

Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin will be appointed to the Health Ministry, while continuing in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Mayoral appointments

The PMO said that Mr Teo requested to step down from public office to return to the private sector, and that PM Lee accepted the request.

Mr Teo's retirement will be accompanied by changes in the mayor positions.

Mr Teo will relinquish his appointment as Mayor of North East CDC when his term ends on May 26, while remaining an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

He will be replaced as mayor by Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo.

The four other current mayors - Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Dr Teo Ho Pin, Ms Denise Phua and Ms Low Yen Ling - will be reappointed as mayors.

The new mayor appointments will take effect on May 27.

Ms Low will be appointed as coordinator for the CDCs.