SINGAPORE, April 24 (NNN-CNA) -- Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday and named Chan Chun Sing, tipped as one of his potential successors, as trade minister.
Lee, the eldest son of Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, has made clear he is ready to stand down in the next couple of years, but no obvious successor has emerged from a group of 16 ministers tasked with picking a leader from within their ranks.
Chan is one of three potential successors picked by Singapore's media and political analysts, alongside Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who both kept their portfolios and received additional responsibilities.
The Southeast Asian city-state has to hold a general election by early 2021.
Other ministries will get new ministers and a new female minister, Indranee Rajah, was appointed in a Cabinet reshuffle that marks the mid-point of this Government's term.
Chan, 48, currently a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, was asked by Lee to return to Government after three years with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).
He will also take over responsibility for the Public Service Division from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and continue to be deputy chairman of the People's Association.
Heng, 57, will stay on at the Finance Ministry, which he has headed since 2015.
He had said last week that he would be "very happy" to continue at the ministry as there are many things it needs to do which he announced in this year's Budget.
Heng will take over responsibility for assisting the Prime Minister on National Research Foundation matters from DPM Teo Chee Hean, Lee said in his statement.
Ong, 48, will also be staying on at the Ministry of Education. However, he will now be helming the full ministry by himself as Ng Chee Meng, 49, heads to NTUC and is expected to replace Chan as labour chief.
Ng will be appointed Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and relinquish his appointments as Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport. Ong will relinquish his appointment as Second Minister for Defence.
Indranee Rajah, 55, has been promoted to be a full minister serving in the Prime Minister's Office. The former Senior Minister of State for Finance and for Law will also be appointed Second Minister for Law until Jun 30, when Edwin Tong becomes Senior Minister of State in the Ministry.
Josephine Teo, 49, will be appointed Minister for Manpower. She will continue as Second Minister for Home Affairs, but will relinquish her appointment in the Prime Minister's Office.
She takes over from Lim Swee Say who will be retiring from the Cabinet.
S Iswaran, 55, will be appointed Minister for Communications and Information, in place of Dr Yaacob Ibrahim who is also stepping down. Iswaran will continue in the Ministry of Trade and Industry but be redesignated Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations.
The appointments are to take effect on May 1.
Three senior office holders, Yaacob Ibrahim, 62, Lim Swee Say, 63, and Lim Hng Kiang, 64, will be stepping down. However, the latter will be appointed as Special Advisor to MTI. In this role, he will provide advice on MTI's "economic strategies to grow Singapore's capabilities and international economic space", MTI said in a statement.
Masagos Zulkifli will be in charge of Muslim affairs and Dr Janil Puthucheary will be responsible for cybersecurity, taking over from Dr Yaacob.
Several office holders were promoted in this reshuffle, which Lee said would involve changes in "almost all the ministries".
Source: NAM News Network