It was reported on 22 May that the current Navy Chief RADM Lai Chung Han will be stepping down from the navy and to enter civilian life, barely 3 years after he took over the position from his predecessor in Aug 2014.
MINDEF announced that RADM Lew Chuen Hong will be taking over as the new chief. It said that the change is part of the “continuing process of leadership renewal” in the SAF.
RADM Lai was awarded the President’s Scholarship and SAF Overseas Scholarship in 1992 to study economics in Cambridge.
RADM Lai started his military career serving in RSN’s missile corvettes. He served on board the RSS Valour as a junior officer and later as the Executive Officer before assuming command of the RSS Valiant from 2002–2004. He was appointed as the Commander of the Missile Corvette Squadron in 2007 and later as the Fleet Commander in 2011.
He had also concurrently held a number of staff appointments in MINDEF, including:
* Head of Long Term Planning Secretariat, Office of the Chief of Defence Force
* Office Director, Future Systems Directorate
* Director (Policy), Ministry of Defence
* Deputy Secretary (Policy), Ministry of Defence
He was finally promoted to the rank of RADM and succeeded Ng Chee Peng as the Chief of Navy in 2014.
RADM Lai to become 2nd perm sec in MOE
Following the announcement of his stepping down from the navy by MINDEF, PSD also announced that RADM Lai will be appointed Second Permanent Secretary (Education) next month.
RADM Lai’s appointment will take place on Jun 19. Ms Chan Lai Fung will continue as Permanent Secretary (Education), PSD added.
It’s not known why the govt is creating that many perm sec positions in our ministries cause in UK, they usually only have 1 perm sec to run a ministry. For example, in UK, out of its 16 ministries, only 3 have a second perm sec. And UK is a much bigger country than Singapore. A second perm sec is usually needed only when the ministry is too big for 1 person to handle.
The Permanent Secretary is actually the most senior civil servant of a Govt ministry under the British system. He is like the CEO, charged with running the ministry’s affairs on a day-to-day basis.
In 1830, when Lord Grey took office as PM of UK, Sir John Barrow was especially requested to continue serving as Secretary in his ministry (the Admiralty), starting the principle that senior civil servants stay in office on change of government and serve in a non-partisan manner. It was during Barrow’s occupancy of the post that it was renamed “Permanent Secretary”.
However, in Singapore, as it has always been governed by a single party, the need for a “permanent” civil service position becomes less important. Over the years, the position becomes more like a test ground for potential PAP recruits into its party.
Nevertheless, it’s not known how a navy man like RADM Lai would contribute to the education system of Singapore.