Coronavirus Singapore

Health Minister 'literally on my speed dial', says Lawrence Wong

The ministers were speaking to reporters on Jan 19 at a press conference to mark one year of Covid-19 in Singapore.
The ministers were speaking to reporters on Jan 19 at a press conference to mark one year of Covid-19 in Singapore.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

If there is one thing Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has learnt about Education Minister Lawrence Wong, it is that he is a decisive man.

"I look at the way he discusses and raises issues and makes decisions," said Mr Gan, 61.

"Once the facts are clear, we will have no ifs and buts. Just move, and get it done."

And for Mr Wong, 48, his senior colleague has been a "great mentor" with whom he has worked closely since both men became co-chairmen of the multi-ministerial task force tackling the pandemic.

"He is literally on my speed dial. I disturb him all the time because, after all, I am coming in cold," Mr Wong said, referring to how he was relatively new to the healthcare scene.

The ministers were speaking to reporters on Tuesday at a media conference to mark one year of Covid-19 in Singapore.

They had been asked how their impressions of one another had changed over the last 12 months.

"Somehow, I don't know why, I have been tied to Kim Yong in different ways, even before Covid-19," Mr Wong responded.

He succeeded Mr Gan as the PAP Community Foundation's management council chairman in 2015, and took over his role as the Singapore Labour Foundation's chairman in 2018. Mr Gan guided him in both transitions, said Mr Wong.

Part of his role as co-chairman of the task force involves thinking out of the box, he added, as he is not within the Health Ministry (MOH).

"From time to time, I will just call him up, brainstorm, throw up ideas," said Mr Wong.

"And he is always open-minded... helping me to understand better what the science is, what MOH's opinion is, and then together we have been able to think through and brainstorm, and come up with solutions together."

To that, Mr Gan added that he was "very happy" to be working with "a very decisive co-chairman".

 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2021, with the headline 'Health Minister 'literally on my speed dial', says Lawrence Wong'. Subscribe