SINGAPORE: Online and messaging chat groups are abuzz with questions on whether Singaporeans can see former Chief Defence Force (CDF) Melvyn On Su Kiat join the ruling party, as he stepped down from his role on Friday (24 Mar).
MINDEF said earlier that the former SAF heavyweight will continue to serve in public service after retirement, although the exact details of what this will involve remain unclear. Rumours, however, are swirling online that politics may be in the 47-year-old’s future as many of his predecessors jumped into politics after retiring from the military.
The next election must be held no later than 23 November 2025 but analysts have predicted that it will take place earlier, perhaps as early as June next year. Whatsapp and Telegram chatgroups are spreading rumours that Mr Ong will figure in the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) slate for the election.
Speculation is also rife that, in the interim period between his retirement from the SAF and the next election, Mr Ong may find a post for himself within a government-linked entity.
It is noteworthy that every single one out of the nine former CDFs that precede LG Ong had key roles in government ministries, statutory boards, and firms that are known to have close ties to the establishment, after they left the SAF.
If Mr Ong is unveiled as a PAP candidate, he may be joined by another former CDF, unseated ex-MP Ng Chee Meng.
Mr Ng was fielded as a fresh face in the 2015 general election, which took place less than a month after he retired from the army. He was put in a six-member team under the leadership of the then-Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and coasted to victory and into Parliament.
He then became one of the rare few in Singapore’s history to be appointed as cabinet minister as soon as he joined Parliament. As part of the PAP’s fourth-generation (4G) cohort of leaders, Mr Ng was made Minister of Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport shortly after the election in 2015.
In 2015, he was appointed a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and was elected Secretary-General of the Government-linked labour movement, NTUC.
In his second election, Mr Ng was identified as the leader of the PAP team contesting the newly-carved out Sengkang GRC. In a stunning upset, Mr Ng and his team lost to the Workers’ Party (WP).
Although he was voted out of political office and lost his ministerial position, Mr Ng remains active as a PAP branch chairman in Sengkang and has discretion over how taxpayer funds are disbursed in the opposition-held ward.
He was also appointed to continue as labour chief, despite losing the election, in a move that was contrary to the norm – a move that signals that he will be part of the PAP’s slate in the next election.
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