National Library Board to get new chairman and CEO; new CEO for SkillsFuture Singapore

Mr Lee Seow Hiang (left) will be the National Library Board's (NLB) new chairman from January, while Mr Ng Cher Pong will be NLB's new CEO from December.
Mr Lee Seow Hiang (left) will be the National Library Board's (NLB) new chairman from January, while Mr Ng Cher Pong will be NLB's new CEO from December.PHOTOS: CHANGI AIRPORT GROUP, SKILLSFUTURE SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - The National Library Board (NLB) will be getting a new chairman and chief executive. SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) will have a new CEO as well.

Changi Airport Group's current CEO Lee Seow Hiang, 49, will be NLB's new chairman from January, taking over from Mr Chan Heng Kee, 50, said the Ministry of Communications and Information on Tuesday (Oct 15).

The board's new CEO from December is Mr Ng Cher Pong, 47, after Mrs Elaine Ng, 54, steps down from the role.

Mr Ng is currently SSG's CEO and he will be replaced by Mr Ong Tze-Ch'in, 44, who is currently the coordinating divisional director of the higher education group in the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Mr Ong will will also be appointed as MOE's Deputy Secretary for SkillsFuture from December, said MOE and SSG in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Lee, NLB's future chairman, is credited for driving the development of Changi Jewel Airport and is, among his various roles, also the deputy chairman of Changi Airports International.

From 1989 to 2005, Mr Lee also held various appointments in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and Ministry of Defence. His last appointment was deputy head of air operations in the headquarters of RSAF.

Later between 2005 and 2008, he was the principal private secretary to then Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. He did his undergraduate studies at Cambridge under a President's Scholarship and subsequently pursued a masters at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

NLB's future CEO, Mr Ng, is currently also MOE's Deputy Secretary for SkillsFuture. He has been the founding CEO of SSG since October 2016 and has played a role in the development and implementation of various SkillsFuture initiatives.

Mr Ng joined the administrative service of the civil service in 1996 and was appointed chief executive of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency in 2013.

In 2016, he was conferred the Public Administration Medal (Silver) for his civil service contributions.

Mr Ng completed his undergraduate studies in Cambridge, obtained his masters from Insead in France and also attended the Havard Business School.

SSG's incoming CEO, Mr Ong, previously held various leadership positions in the Singapore Armed Forces, including as director for military intelligence.

Ms Yong Ying-I, MCI's permanent secretary, thanked Mr Chan and Mrs Ng for their efforts as NLB's chairman and CEO respectively.

On Mr Chan, Ms Yong said he "has played a pivotal role" in overseeing NLB's development over the past four years. She also credited him for transforming the network of public libraries into integrated touchpoints for lifelong learning.

Ms Yong said Mrs Ng was "instrumental in leading the transformation of the NLB that we see today".

In her eight years as CEO, Mrs Ng led the adoption of technology in the board's network of libraries, revitalised the physical spaces at next-generation public libraries and the national archives to become "welcoming community learning spaces", Ms Yong added.

As for NLB's incoming chairman and CEO, Ms Yong said Mr Lee's leadership in driving innovation and Mr Ng's commitment to lifelong learning for people will be valuable to the board.

On their biggest contributions, NLB's outgoing Mr Chan and Mrs Ng said in a joint statement that by transforming the network of public libraries, the board continues to "make advances in promoting reading and supporting lifelong learning in Singaporeans".

They noted that physical loans hit 39.5 million in 2018, while digital loans doubled to more than three million over the past year.

NLB has also tapped on technology by digitising materials about Singapore and made materials "come alive" through exhibitions, online resources and programmes for the public, they said.

Mr Chan and Mrs Ng also thanked volunteers, partners and the community for their support, noting for instance that crowdsourcing from citizen archivists has led to heritage materials being transcribed.

The two highlighted challenges as well, such as how NLB has to reinvent its public programmes and services as reading habits change along with an increasingly digital lifestyle.

Specifically, they said that while NLB  is well known for its physical network of public libraries, "it is important to have equally impactful e-collections and online services".

Another challenge Mr Chan and Mrs Ng pointed out is the growing number of materials published electronically that needs to be preserved for future generations.

"Last year's amendments to the NLB Act enabled NLB to collect these, ensuring that they would be available for Singaporeans of tomorrow," they said.