Singapore— Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made changes in all three key ministries dealing with the pandemic — Health, Manpower, and Trade and Industry — in a major Cabinet reshuffle on Friday (Apr 23).
All three Cabinet ministers expected to lead the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) fourth-generation (4G) team had their portfolios reshuffled.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong will replace Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat as Finance Minister.
The reshuffle follows Mr Heng’s announcement on Apr 8 that he was stepping aside as 4G leader and relinquishing the Finance portfolio.
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing will replace Mr Wong as Education Minister.
The third key 4-G figure, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kun, will be the new Health Minister.
Current Health Minister Gan Kim Young will replace Mr Chan as Minister for Trade and Industry.
Mr Ong, as health minister, will co-chair with Mr Wong the multi-ministry task force dealing with Covid-19.
The changes will take effect on May 15, after the next Parliament sitting, scheduled for May 10.
Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran will replace Mr Ong as Transport Minister.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo will be the new Communications and Information Minister.
Mr Tan See Leng, the Second Minister for Manpower, will head MOM and also remain Second Minister for Trade and Industry.
PM Lee said at the media conference, “Today I am announcing my new line-up. It will be a more extensive reshuffle than is usual this early in the term of government.”
He gave two reasons.
First, there are many repercussions with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat relinquishing the key portfolio of finance.
Second, he is moving the ministers heading the front-line ministries dealing with Covid-19 – Health, Manpower, and Trade and Industry.
After last July’s General Election, PM Lee said he had first thought of reshuffling the Cabinet for these particular ministries but waited to do so.
He added that the new ministry assignments would provide the 4G ministers new exposure and experience, even as they have already gained much experience in various portfolios.
“With these major moves, inevitably there are other consequential adjustments to appointments. I am therefore taking this opportunity to redeploy some of the other ministers, to give them fresh responsibilities, and gain different exposure and experience,” PM Lee added.
Mr Heng will continue in his positions as Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for Economic Policies.