An article on this page (dated 21 April 2022) contains a false statement of fact that
the Minister for Law and Home Affairs, K Shanmugam, said he may be stepping
down from his ministerial positions.

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K Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister of Law and Home Affairs, said he may step down as a minister, but gave no specific time as to when he might do so. He revealed this in a recent video interview with Vanakkam Malaysia, a Malaysian Tamil-language news outfit, which he posted on his Facebook page on April 19.

“I am here as a minister because of the people’s support and love. The moment when there is no support, I must be ready to leave. When there are capable leaders to replace me, I should be ready to move on,” Shanmugam said in Tamil during the interview.

“I have maintained transparency in both my words and actions. I clearly tell the public what are the challenges and what we need to do to overcome them. I will continue to do that. The moment when I feel I can’t keep to that anymore, I will leave my ministerial posts,” Shanmugam told Vanakkam.

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“I didn’t ask for the minister’s post. The party offered me both the MP (Member of Parliament) position and minister’s post. I agreed after giving much thought. I’m always ready to leave anytime,” Shanmugam revealed.

“Some may enter politics for power, money or family. You can see this happening in some countries,” Shanmugam said.

Singapore ministers have some of the highest salaries in the world. A Singaporean minister of Shanmugam’s rank is estimated to earn above S$1 million per year.

“I didn’t come into politics to make money,” Shanmugam declared.

“I was already a successful lawyer before entering politics. I earned more when I was a lawyer. I sacrificed income when I took the political path. I consider serving people a privilege. Not everyone will get the chance,” Shanmugam explained.

Prior to entering politics, Shanmugam worked for various law firms in Singapore, including Allen & Gledhill. In 1998 at the age of 38, he became one of the youngest lawyers to be appointed Senior Counsel in Singapore.

He first became an MP in September 1988 and served as Foreign Minister from May 2011 to September 2015. He was appointed Law Minister on 1 May 2008 and Minister for Home Affairs on 1 October 2015.

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It is not known whether Shanmugam will soon retire on grounds of age. The 63-year-old man appears not only healthy but strong. On April 16, he posted on his Facebook page a video of himself doing burpees and lifting weights in a gymnasium. He said on Facebook, “So in total, I did 55 lifts of 53 kg, and 45 burpees in the 10 minutes. It was a very tiring 10 minutes.”

On Aug 14 last year, he also posted a video of himself lifting weights in a gymnasium. At that time, he commented on Facebook, “For slightly more than a year now, I have added weight training, to my exercise routine. After some months of training, (with Covid interruptions), I did a test to see what weight I can carry. Here is a video, it starts with my attempt at 80kg, and then increased weights, going up to 105kg – my body weight is 70kg, so 105 kg is 150 % of my body weight.”

“For older persons it helps reduce muscle loss,” he added.

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Shanmugam’s suggestion of possibly leaving office came at a time of leadership renewal in the nation. On April 14, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a statement that Finance Minister Lawrence Wong has become the leader of the People Action Party’s (PAP’s) 4th generation (4G) team through a consultative process among some PAP members. As long as the ruling party remains in power, Wong will presumably succeed Lee as Singapore Prime Minister at some stage.

With the selection of Wong as the 4G leader, Prime Minister Lee will make adjustments to his cabinet in due course, according to the Prime Minister’s statement on April 14. It remains to be seen whether Shanmugam will leave the cabinet or stay after the cabinet reshuffle.

If Shanmugam remains in the cabinet, it will be interesting to see what post he will get.

Toh Han Shih is chief analyst of Headland Intelligence, a Hong Kong risk consulting firm.

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