Labour chief Lim Swee Say to be Manpower Minister; Chan Chun Sing to be new labour chief

SINGAPORE - Mr Chan Chun Sing will be Singapore's new labour chief from May 4, taking over the role from Mr Lim Swee Say, who has resigned from the National Trade Unions Congress (NTUC) and will step down that day.

Mr Lim will be appointed Minister for Manpower and will also relinquish his appointment as Minister in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on May 4. These changes were announced by the PMO and NTUC on Wednesday. They are part of a larger Cabinet reshuffle, which has been on the cards since Mr Chan joined the labour movement in January.

Mr Chan will be appointed Minister in the PMO and relinquish his appointments as Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Defence from Thursday.

The outgoing Manpower Minister, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, will take over as Minister for Social and Family Development from Thursday. He will hold both portfolios until he relinquishes his appointment as Manpower Minister to Mr Lim on May 4.

The labour movement announced in a statement on Wednesday that its central committee unanimously elected Mr Chan to take over the helm of NTUC as its secretary-general with effect from May 4. Mr Chan, who is currently NTUC's deputy secretary-general, joined the labour movement on Jan 23 on a part-time basis, and has been serving in the movement full-time since April 1.

He was co-opted into the NTUC central committee and appointed as deputy secretary-general under NTUC's constitution on Jan 27.

In his resignation letter, Mr Lim looked back on his time in the labour movement, which he joined in 1996 before the Asian Financial Crisis broke out. He reflected on how the labour movement improved workers' employability at the time and helped retrenched workers and job seekers find new jobs. Mr Lim left to join the Government in 1999 and returned to labour in 2004.

Then, the labour movement repositioned itself as an inclusive one that tackled the concerns of white and blue collar workers, young and old, and local and foreign alike. Saying he was thankful for the privilege of serving workers, members and unions, Mr Lim said: "The journey towards better jobs, better careers and better lives for all workers is a journey with no end. I am flowing-on but never flowing-out."

Replying, NTUC president Diana Chia accepted Mr Lim's resignation "with deep regret" and thanked him for his contributions to the labour movement .

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