Just a few days after Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing told reporters that that he is confident that the labour movement will continue to execute its plans well, even if he were moved to a new rule in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced that Chan is returning to the Government and that Education Minister Ng Chee Meng will be released to the labour movement to serve as part-time deputy secretary-general.
National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) revealed today that Ng and Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon will serve as its new deputy secretaries-general. Ng is reportedly expected to wear the mantle of labour chief in time, replacing NTUC sec-gen Chan Chun Sing.
Ng declined to comment on when he will succeed Chan as sec-gen and only said: “I am always ready (to step up as secretary-general), when the moment arrives.”
Ng and Koh have been released to NTUC after the movement’s president, Mary Liew wrote, requested suitable office holders who could replace Chan in the event that he leaves NTUC. Liew wrote in a letter: “should PM require Brother Chan Chun Sing to return to Government in due course, may we request PM to let Brother Ng Chee Meng serve in the labour movement”.
In response, PM Lee wrote to Liew today agreeing to send Ng to serve in the labour movement part-time until from now until May 1 – Labour Day – when he will transition to serving NTUC full-time.
In his letter, PM added: “I fully agree with you that the symbiotic relationship between the NTUC and the PAP has served us well since Singapore’s founding, and that we should continue to strengthen both the leadership of the labour movement and this relationship.”
Sharing his letter to Liew on Facebook, PM Lee wrote: “I have asked Chan Chun Sing to return to the Government. In response NTUC has asked me to send Ng Chee Meng 黄志明 to serve in the Labour Movement. I have agreed to this. NTUC further asked for someone to help the Labour Movement translate Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) into tangible training programmes for working people. Koh Poh Koon – 许宝琨 has agreed to go, on a part-time basis. He can also help the Labour Movement reach out to new groups, including PMEs.”
PM Lee also revealed: “I will be announcing the Cabinet reshuffle in a day or two. My new team will continue to work closely with NTUC to improve the lives of workers and families.”
The upcoming Cabinet reshuffle is expected to be a significant one since it is designated to give younger ministers more exposure and responsibilities so that they can better support the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s successor. Chan, who is now returning to the Government, remains one of the top three ministers tipped to become Singapore’s next head of government.