Ng Wai Choong named new Iras commissioner with retirement of current chief, Tan Tee How

Mr Ngiam Shih Chun (left) will be taking over as EMA chief executive from Mr Ng Wai Choong (centre), who will be appointed the commissioner of inland revenue and CEO of Iras, replacing Mr Tan Tee How (right), who is retiring.
Mr Ngiam Shih Chun (left) will be taking over as EMA chief executive from Mr Ng Wai Choong (centre), who will be appointed the commissioner of inland revenue and CEO of Iras, replacing Mr Tan Tee How (right), who is retiring.PHOTOS: MTI, PSD

SINGAPORE - Mr Ng Wai Choong will be the new commissioner of inland revenue and chief executive of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) from Feb 1.

The 52-year-old, currently chief executive of the Energy Market Authority (EMA), will take over from Mr Tan Tee How, who is set to retire after a 34-year career in the Administrative Service.

Mr Tan, 58, has been Iras head since Dec 1, 2014. In that time, he led and participated actively in international tax forums to keep Singapore abreast of global tax issues and develop policies and measures to ensure its competitiveness, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in a statement on Monday (Dec 11).

In its statement announcing the leadership handover, the ministry paid tribute to Mr Tan’s contributions, noting that one of his key focuses was to make sure Iras was well-positioned amid a time of disruptive innovation.

He had, for instance, led the charge in getting Iras to tap technology so that it could keep the cost of tax administration low and voluntary compliance high. This transformation, it added, leveraged analytics, design and digitalisation to redefine the user experience for taxpayers, tax intermediaries and staff.

The statement added that Iras had also adopted an outside-in approach to understand the needs of taxpayers, and design systems to meet these needs, working with communities to come up with solutions and using new technology.

Iras continues to take firm actions against non-compliance, said MOF, and Mr Tan also accelerated the building of staff capabilities by deepening their skills and making sure that they are able to adapt to the changing work environment.

Mr Tan started his Administrative Service career with MOF in 1983, and was posted five years later to the Ministry of National Development. Thereafter, he held various key appointments, among them controller of immigration at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and principal private secretary to then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, before becoming permanent secretary at MHA from 2011 to 2014.

Mr Tan told Iras staff in an e-mail that he could not have wished for a better job to cap his 34-year career with the Singapore public service.

“Iras embodies the spirit of purpose, commitment and excellence that has made our public service among the best in the world,” he said, adding that he had no doubt they would give the same strong support he received to Mr Ng.

His successor, noted Mr Tan, is no stranger to Iras, having interacted closely with staff there in his capacity as deputy secretary at MOF in the past, and Iras board member since last year.

Mr Ng joined the Administrative Service in 1991, and took on his current role of EMA chief executive in April 2015. Prior to that, he had served as the deputy secretary (policy) at the Ministry of Finance from April 2007 to March 2015, overseeing government revenue, expenditure and investment policies.

He was deputy secretary (industry) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry from April 2004 to 2007, and chief executive of the Competition Commission of Singapore from January 2005 to April 2006. 

The leadership transition at Iras comes at a time when Singapore is discussing tax changes, and this looks set to be a key issue for Mr Ng when he takes over.

The new appointment means a series of top-level changes in the public service, with Mr Ng relinquishing his post at EMA, as well as his appointment as returning officer at the Elections Department.

Mr Ngiam Shih Chun, 44, deputy secretary (industry) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, will take over as EMA chief executive, while Mr Tan Meng Dui, deputy secretary (development) at the Ministry of National Development, will be appointed returning officer.