Channel NewsAsia - PM Lee and Singapore's new Cabinet sworn in

Singapore's new Cabinet was sworn in on Thursday evening (Oct 1) at the Istana.


The Republic's new Cabinet was sworn in on Thursday evening (Oct 1) at the Istana, three days after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the lineup. Mr Lee said that in choosing his Cabinet, his objective was to provide the "most effective Government for Singapore", as it enters a new phase of nationhood after half a century of independence.

The ceremony saw 31 office-holders take their oaths before President Tony Tan Keng Yam in his first Cabinet swearing-in since taking office in 2011.

The number includes 20 full or acting Ministers, led by PM Lee who was sworn in first, followed by his Deputy Prime Ministers and Coordinating Ministers.

They are DPM Teo Chee Hean, who will continue as Coordinating Minister for National Security; DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam who will take on a new role as Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies; as well as Mr Khaw Boon Wan who will be Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure while also serving as Transport Minister.

In his speech, Mr Lee explained the need for the coordinating ministers, noting that Singapore is facing complex challenges that require "fresh and bold ideas, the careful balancing of different goals and close coordination across multiple agencies". He said this is what his new Cabinet, with a "combination of experienced and new ministers is designed to do".

Mr Lee also reinforced his team with backbenchers and newly-elected MPs, and entrusted major responsibilities to younger ministers - including first-time Members of Parliament Ng Chee Meng and Ong Ye Kung, who will be Acting Education Ministers.
"They have to be tested, learn the ropes, prove themselves and shake down as a team," the Prime Minister said.

Mr Lee who has said his Cabinet includes fourth-generation leaders for Singapore, stressed that the appointments were made with leadership renewal in mind. "My responsibility, as it was with ESM Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee Kuan Yew, is not just to govern Singapore well today, but also to prepare the next team to take over. This will secure Singapore's future beyond this generation and take the country another step towards SG100."

Older ministers staying on in the Cabinet will provide Mr Lee's team with "depth and breadth to think more deeply about issues and to plan more systematically for the future", he said.

The Prime Minister noted the decisive result at the recent general election, where his People's Action Party won nearly 70 per cent of the popular vote. "The real winners in this election were Singaporeans. We have a strong, stable Government, able to take Singapore comfortably into the future."

He also said the election result sent an important signal to the world that Singaporeans are "determined to keep Singapore special".

As for what is next for Singapore, Mr Lee said the Government will take the Our Singapore Conversation national feedback exercise a step further, building on themes of the last major SG50 event, "The Future of Us" exhibition. The event, which launches at the Gardens by the Bay in December, will touch on themes such as the Future of Lifelong Learning, the Future of Greening, the Future of Caring and the Future of Smart Living and Working.

Mr Lee also said that a key area that also needs to be reviewed is the economy, with new Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat chairing a committee on the Future Economy.

"We are not done building Singapore and we will never be," said Prime Minister Lee. "My team and I take this trust and our responsibility seriously, and will continue to earn, honour and grow this trust."

President Tony Tan also touched on the issue of trust in his speech, saying that trust of the people is precious and that office-holders must continue to strive to deserve it. "You must continue to engage Singaporeans honestly and openly. You must continue to speak frankly with them on the tough issues and lead with humility."

Some office-holders will be sworn in at later dates. Parliamentary Secretaries Faishal Ibrahim, Low Yen Ling, Baey Yam Keng and Amrin Amin are due to take their oaths next Monday, while new Ministers of State Janil Puthucheary and Koh Poh Koon will be sworn in later as they only take office on Jan 1 next year.

The Cabinet members were led in their oath-taking by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon in a ceremony witnessed by some 700 guests - comprising current and former Members of Parliament, representatives from the Singapore Public Service, grassroots, NGOs, business leaders, educators, and religious leaders.

The new Cabinet comes before Singapore's 13th parliament convenes in January next year.

Source: Channel NewsAsia

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