By Mary Lee
This is a personal reaction to the man, based solely on his appearance on the joint ministerial panel announcing details of the Covid-19 “circuit-breaker” last week. Education Minister Ong Ye Kung was reportedly one of the frontrunners likely to succeed Lee Hsien Loong as Prime Minister (alongside current deputy Heng Swee Keat, Chan Chun Sing and Lawrence Wong).
However, attractive as Ong may be as a candidate, he wasn’t as assertive as Heng, who is clearly ready to take over from Lee. In which case, I hope he isn’t given the deputy’s position. (He won’t be able to shine there!) Maybe he could serve — after he adds to his score as Education Minister by establishing home-based learning as an integral aspect of Singapore education — ensuring a more vital role for parents (whatever their educational background, all adults can contribute to a child’s knowledge) and/or tutors.
He hasn’t been in the Cabinet long, having lost in 2011 to the Workers’ Party when he ran under George Yeo. Clearly, in that general election, Lee Kuan Yew’s presence at a rally was over-powering and unhelpful. He was given the Sembawang GRC in 2015, led by Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, but unfortunately he represents Gambas district, not mine — Yishun.
He has held posts in Defence, Finance and Trade and Industry ministries. Education gives him fertile ground to prove his leadership — and show what he learnt from his father, Ong Lian Teng, who was in the Barisan Sosialis before he was born. He said his father, who passed away in 2009, supported his entry into the PAP.
It remains to be seen if the People’s Action Party will give room to any of its potential leaders to elbow his way to the front. If it does, I hope Ong will use his Education Ministry to cultivate support for himself. Why not? Teachers and parents constitute a significant portion of the electorate! However, if he remains in his Gambas ward in Sembawang, he will probably be returned in either walkover or a strong majority for the GRC team, so I wonder if it is a matter of actual voter appeal, the party may have to turn to social media to find who among the four (Heng included) is the most popular leader!
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Independent Singapore. /TISG