Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan will, from today, serve as Acting Prime Minister while the head of government, Lee Hsien Loong, is away on overseas leave.
This is according to an official statement by the Prime Minister’s office that revealed that Khaw – who also serves as Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure – will be filling in for the PM from today to Christmas day, 25 Dec 2017.
Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Teo Chee Hean, will take over as Acting Prime Minister from 26 Dec to 31 Dec 2017.
PM Lee is expected to return on New Year’s Day.
While it seems quite ordinary that the Deputy Prime Minister would fill in for the head of government, it is not quite clear why the Transport Minister has been called on to serve as Acting PM for half the time PM Lee will be away.
Perhaps the decision has to do with the fact that Khaw has served as the ruling party’s chairman since 2011.
Another possible reason may be that the move signifies the government’s support for Khaw who is battling severe public backlash over persistent rail transport issues.
PM Lee himself said exactly one month ago, at the PAP Convention held on 19 Nov, that Khaw Boon Wan has one of the toughest jobs in Cabinet. He also asserted that Khaw has the People’s Action Party’s full support and confidence, to applause from other party members:
“I want Boon Wan and his team to know that they have our full support and confidence.”