Singapore's Cabinet reshuffle: Ong Ye Kung to co-chair Covid-19 task force with Lawrence Wong

Mr Ong Ye Kung (left) will co-chair the task force tackling the Covid-19 pandemic with Mr Lawrence Wong.
Mr Ong Ye Kung (left) will co-chair the task force tackling the Covid-19 pandemic with Mr Lawrence Wong.PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - As the incoming Health Minister with effect from May 15, Mr Ong Ye Kung will co-chair the task force tackling the Covid-19 pandemic with Mr Lawrence Wong.

He succeeds Mr Gan Kim Yong, who has headed the Health Ministry for nearly a decade and will move to lead the Trade and Industry Ministry (MTI).

Mr Wong, who is currently Education Minister, will take over as Finance Minister next month.

The new Cabinet appointments will take place from May 15, after the next Parliament sitting.

Announcing the changes on Friday afternoon (April 23), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Mr Ong, who is currently Transport Minister, will build on the foundation laid by his predecessor.

He noted how Mr Ong has been dealing with major transport challenges - including working on reopening Singapore's borders and protecting the country's status as an air and sea hub - since he took over the portfolio last year.

"At MOH, he will build on the strong foundation that Gan Kim Yong laid in healthcare," PM Lee said. "Issues like ageing, healthcare infrastructure and healthcare finance need our unremitting efforts spanning many health ministers."

Asked for his expectations of both ministers now co-chairing the task force, Mr Lee replied: "I expect all of them to work closely together and cooperate, to make sure that policies are well-coordinated and nothing slips through the cracks."

This is how the entire Cabinet has to work, he added. "You're doing your part, but at the same time you're covering for one another, so that when a problem comes up, we deal with the problem holistically - not just each person tackling his piece and leaving gaps in between, or overlaps and conflicts between the different ministries."

In his speech, Mr Lee also noted that Mr Gan has been a "point man" in the fight against Covid-19 and implemented many major healthcare reforms in his term as Health Minister.

In his new role at MTI, he will oversee the country's economic recovery and pursue new opportunities, Mr Lee said.

He added that Mr Gan is well-suited for the post, having previously been Manpower Minister and also served in MTI early in his career, before spending 16 years in the private sector.