PM Lee announces sweeping changes to Cabinet
By Hoe Yeen Nie
Posted: 18 May 2011 1654 hrs
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced changes to his Cabinet line-up, which he said reflects the urgency of the need to prepare for leadership succession.
Three ministers will leave the Cabinet, and out of 14 ministries, 11 will have new ministers in charge.
Speaking at a news conference at the Istana on Wednesday, Mr Lee said it is an epochal change as Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew are leaving the Cabinet.
Mr Lee said he has accepted both former Prime Ministers' decisions to step down from Cabinet. They had announced on Saturday that they intended to make way for a younger generation of leaders to take over.
Both men had decided to step down after the elections, and Mr Lee rejected suggestions that it's because that could have had a negative impact on the PAP's performance in the election.
Mr Lee in particular thanked SM Goh for mentoring him in politics.
Mr Lee said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is appointed as the senior advisor to Government Investment Corporation of Singapore (GIC).
Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong is appointed as senior advisor to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and been given the title Emeritus Senior Minister.
Three more ministers will be retiring.
They are Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security Wong Kan Seng, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan and Transport Minister and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Raymond Lim.
Out of 14 ministries, 11 will have new ministers in charge.
Mr Lee said this will be a fresh team that will look at the future with a clean slate.
PM Lee said: "I think this is a Cabinet we lined up after the elections. Certainly the outcome of the elections affected my thinking in deciding how to make this Cabinet. I wanted a fresh start, and that's why I've gone for a radical change.
"There is a significant continuity with the previous Cabinet in terms of key members who are involved. Tharman and Teo Chee Hean have worked with me for quite many years, and so have a good number of the ministers who are continuing. So it's a combination of continuity and change, but it's a fresh presentation, a fresh line-up and we're going to take a fresh approach."
Mr Lee said there will be two Deputy Prime Ministers.
They are current Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean who will remain Deputy Prime Minister and will be Home Affairs Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security.
PM Lee also said the three ministers who are retiring had asked to do so before the elections, but Mr Lee only agreed to let them retire now.
Mr Teo's Defence portfolio will be taken over by current Education Minister Ng Eng Hen.
The other Deputy Prime Minister is Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam who will retain his Finance portfolio and also be Manpower Minister.
The new Education Minister will be newly-elected MP Heng Swee Keat.
Newly-elected MP Major-General Chan Chun Sing will be Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports as well as Minister of State for Information, Communication and the Arts.
One of the big changes Mr Lee had to deal with is the loss of Mr George Yeo as Foreign Minister, which he described as "grievous". Mr Lee said he will speak to Mr Yeo to see how he can tap into his experience.
The new Foreign Minister is Mr K Shanmugam, who will concurrently hold the Law portfolio.
Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan will become National Development Minister, a portfolio he volunteered for, and Mr Lee said he's backing Mr Khaw with a very strong team.
It includes two Ministers of State, with a newly-elected MP, Tan Chuan-Jin.
Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong will be the Health Minister.
The Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, will head the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts.
Information, Communication and the Arts Minister Lui Tuck Yew will be Transport Minister and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan will be the new Minister for Environment and Water Resources.
Education Minister Ng Eng Hen will be Defence Minister.
Mr Lim Hng Kiang will remain Trade and Industry Minister.
Mr Lim Swee Say will remain as Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.
Mr Lee said the team is prepared to look at everything from scratch, and explained what he's looking for in the new leadership.
"Proven performance and potential as well as political touch. So then, putting them in deep, at the deep end; it's not easy to come in and become a minister, whether acting or full. But I believe they can do it and I'm testing them out," said Mr Lee.
He said there will be a mid-term review in about 2 years, and the new appointments will take effect on Saturday, May 21, which is when the Cabinet will be sworn in.
Several ministers have also been given additional responsibilities besides the ministries they have been assigned to.
DPM Teo Chee Hean will also take charge of the Public Service Division, the National Population and Talent Division and the National Climate Change Secretariat.
Minister in the PM's Office Lim Swee Say will take charge of the People's Association while Dr Yaacob Ibrahim remains Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs, and Mr Gan Kim Yong will take care of ageing issues.
Lastly, Mr Lee said Mr Tharman will be Chairman of the MAS. Prime Minister Lee will be the Chairman of the GIC.
Meanwhile, several promotions and changes of portfolio were also announced for office holders.
Mr S Iswaran will be promoted to Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry.
Senior Minister of State Ms Grace Fu for Education and National Development will become Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts and Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.
Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office Mr Heng Chee How will be promoted to Senior Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office.
Madam Halimah Yacob will be promoted to be the Minister of State for Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.
Also promoted, Ms Josephine Teo who will be Minister of State for Finance and Transport.
Newly-elected MPs Mr Tan Chuan-Jin and Lawrence Wong will be appointed Ministers of State.
Brigadier General Tan will be Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, Mr Lawrence Wong will be Minister of State for Defence and Education, Ms Amy Khor will be Minister of State for Health.
Mr Teo Ser Luck will be Minister of State for Trade and Industry.
Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Manpower, Mr Lee Yi Shyan will be Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development.
Minister of State for Home Affairs and Education Mr Masagos Zulkifli will be Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.
As for the Senior Parliamentary Secretaries, Mr Hawazi Daipi will swop Health for Education but still remain Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower.
Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman will add on Defence to his portfolio of National Development, and Mr Sam Tan will take on Foreign Affairs and Community Development Youth and Sports.
Newly-elected MP, Ms Sim Ann will become Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Law.
The changes meant that they have heard us or is it rather a change that Singapore much need earlier and was not given until GE, where supports for PAP fell greatly?
The 3 ministers are retiring cos they are repenting on their implementation that caused PAP to lose their votes drastically this GE.
Why is Tin not repenting? I really cannot see how she can serve us.
But no matter what, I still love LKY ...