Lianhe Zaobao reported today that Minister of Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng will likely be taking on the role of Deputy Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).
The Chinese daily reported that reliable sources revealed that members of NTUC’s Central Committee were informed of the move and were asked to support Ng, so he could be elected as Deputy Secretary-General. The daily speculates that this will pave the way for Ng to eventually assume the position of NTUC’s Secretary-General — a post that is currently occupied by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing.
The daily further postulated that this would mean that Chan may be moved to another post in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong confirmed would occur after Parliament takes a mid term break this year, late last month.
This next Cabinet reshuffle would be a significant one as it is expected to precede the selection of the Prime Minister’s successor. The reshuffle is also designated to give younger ministers more exposure and responsibilities so that they can better support the next Prime Minister, according to PM Lee.
If the report by the Chinese daily is correct, Ng replacing Chan as labour chief may free Chan up to take on a different portfolio. This is notable, given rife speculation that Chan is one of the three front-runners who could succeed PM Lee and become Singapore’s next Prime Minister.
The other two candidates who are tipped to give Chan competition are Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Minister for Education (Higher Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung.
If true, Ng replacing Chan as labor chief may also mean that he will leave a gap in the Education Ministry and the Transport Ministry as his appointment as Secretary-General of NTUC would leave his current positions as Minister of Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport vacant.
Other parliamentarians from the 4th generation of leaders may likely be called on to fill these roles if Ng takes the labour movement over from Chan.