Did you just think that PM Lee has just ordered a new cabinet from IKEA, and because it looks so Instagram-worthy, he has to hold a press conference to tell us about it? That’s the Lee Hsien Loong Cabinet, right?
If so, you really need to download our app to read stuff that is simplified for you, because we’ve once explained what a cabinet is.
If not, here’s a simplified summary: a Cabinet is a group of the top leaders in the executive branch. In Singapore, they comprise the ministers, while in the US, they comprise the secretaries.
You probably know by now that a minister is someone who oversees the entire administration of a “department”. For example, the Ministry of Transport oversees everything pertaining to transport in Singapore, and is headed by the Transport Minister.
People who work in these ministries are known as civil servants.
After a General Election, a new line-up of cabinet ministers would be announced shortly, and this year, it happened rather quickly; in the last election, PM Lee announced his new cabinet 17 days after polling day. This year, it’s 15 days.
So, who are the ministers in the various ministries (i.e. the new Lee Hsien Loong Cabinet)?
PM Lee has explained his rationale for his new line-up, saying that it comprises continuity, exposure and renewal.
He said, “First, continuity. In normal times, we need experienced ministers to provide steady hands, and also to mentor the younger ministers. And in this crisis, this need is even greater.” He’s referring to older ministers who’re still in office.
“Secondly, I’m rotating the ministers, especially the younger ones to gain exposure and experience. We regularly do this during Cabinet reshuffles, and the intent is to expose the officeholders to different portfolios, to gain both breadth and depth, to understand the intricacies of the issues and to see things from different perspectives. And ultimately from a national perspective.
“Thirdly, I’m renewing the lineup and bringing in fresh blood and promoting several junior officeholders and backbenchers who have performed well. I’m also bringing in fresh faces from the newly elected Members of Parliament, including several from the private sector, and one of whom as a full minister. They will reinforce my team and offer new ideas and perspectives.”
Okay, I know you’re dying to know who’s the next Transport Minister. Let’s go.
Prime Minister’s Office
This is a bigly office that kind of oversees all the ministries. Just think of it as the Ministry of Ministries, and because it’s so bigly, it has a few ministers.
The first is of course PM Lee, who’ll remain as the Prime Minister. In one of his online rallies during the campaign, he has said that he would ride out the COVID-19 crisis before handing over the leadership to his successor.
In the office, there are a three ministers in the office: Dr Maliki Osman, who was promoted from Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a full minister in the Prime Minister’s office, Tan See Leng, a newly elected MP who’s one of the rare people who’s designated a full minister upon election, and incumbent Indarnee Rajah, who’s also now the new Second Minister for National Development and Finance.
The Deputy Prime Minister will still be Heng Swee Keat.
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY)
The Minister of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) will now be Edwin Tong, who was previously a Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Health and Ministry of Law. The previous Minister of MCCY was Grace Fu.
Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)
There’s no change here: Ng Eng Hen, who has been in politics since 2001 and the Defence Minister since 2011, remains the person whom many of us NSmen report to. Indirectly, of course.
Ministry of Education (MOE)
Ah, there’s a major change here: Lawrence Wong, the face of the fight against COVID-19, will be the Education Minister now. He’ll, however, continue to be the co-chair of the task force set up to fight COVID-19, so you’d most probably see him in his short hair during press conferences about COVID-19.
This ministry was previously helmed by Ong Ye Kung, who some said is a clone of Daniel Dae Kim. Don’t worry, Ong Ye Kung isn’t LOST. Read on and you’ll know where he’s in now.
Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR)
This ministry will be renamed as the Ministry for Sustainability and the Environment, and if you’d remember, we often jest that the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources is Singapore discipline master since NEA is under them. Now we’d have to call it the Singapore discipline mistress because the minister is now Grace Fu.
The former discipline master is Masagos Zulkifli.
Ministry of Finance (MOF)
There’s no change here: DPM Heng will still be our Cai Shen Ye. Lest you didn’t know, he’s been in that position since 2015.
And our dear DPM would be busy because he’s also the Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
No change here as well; Vivian Balakrishnan, who speaks so well he must have a good plan, remains the Minister for Foreign Affairs, a position he’s been holding since 2015.
Ministry of Health (MOH)
Once again, no change here, and if you need me to tell you who the Health Minister is, then welcome back to Planet Earth. What you might not know is that Kenneth Mak has been the Health Minister since 2011 and—
Reader Bao: Wait, something’s not right. Isn’t Kenneth Mak—
Glad that you’re paying attention. The Health Minister is Gan Kim Yong. Kenneth Mak is the director of medical services at the Health Ministry.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Law (MinLaw)
Both these ministries are still helmed by the no-nonsense K. Shanmugam, who has been the Law Minister since 2008 and the Home Affairs Minister since 2015.
Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI)
This is yet another ministry that’s unchanged, and will still be helmed by S. Iswaran, who took the role in 2018. The minister has been in politics since 1997, and first became a full minister back in 2011 as a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
No change here as well: Josephine Teo, who changed her constituency from Bishan–Toa Payoh GRC to Jalan Besar GRC, continues to be the Manpower Minister, a post she’s been holding since 2018.
Ministry of National Development (MND)
If this looks chim to you, then just know this: HDB is under this ministry.
A new minister is leading this ministry since our dear Lawrence Wong has moved on to be the Education Minister.
Desmond Lee, who’s the youngest full minister at just 44 years old, is now the new Minister of National Development. Previously, he was the Minister for Social and Family Development.
Desmond Lee didn’t just change his ministry, but he change his constituency too: he has been a Jurong GRC MP since 2011, and is now an MP for West Coast GRC.
Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)
With Desmond Lee gone in this ministry, who’s going to take over?
In come…erm, former Singapore discipline master, Masagos Zulkifli. He’ll be the new Minister for MSF, and the man would be super busy because he’s also the Second Minister of Health and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.
But it’s okay; he has discipline.
Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)
Whether sheep comes from cotton or water comes from rain, it doesn’t matter because this ministry will remain unchanged as Chan Chun Sing will continue to helm the Ministry of Trade and Industry. He has been holding to his position since 2018 and so this remains unchanged, just like the Casio watch he’s wearing.
Ministry of Transport (MOT)
We have to leave the best for the last, of course. With Khaw Boon Wan retiring, who’s going to take over the ministry that’s often under-appreciated?
In comes Ong Ye Kung, whose clone was once LOST in an island after his airplane crashed.
This is apt because other than taking over Khaw Boo Wan’s positon in the cabinet, he’s also taking over Mr Khaw’s position as the leader of Sembawang GRC.
Would we be seeing Mr Ong in the train soon? Only time will tell, but do you know that he has part of an MRT train in his office?
Watch this hilarious video and you’d understand:
Other than these, a few new MPs, many of them suddenly jobless recently, have also become Ministers of State.
Ms Gan Siow Huang, a solo runner in Marymount GRC, will be appointed Minister of State in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Manpower
Mr Alvin Tan, a former LinkedIn employee who ran in Tanjong Pagar GRC , will be appointed Minister of State in the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, with effect from 1 Sept
Desmond Tan, a Man U fan and ex-General who won a seat in the Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC, will be appointed Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment
Tan Kiat How, the ex-CEO of IMDA who has been elected into East Coast GRC with the East Coast plan, will be appointed Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of National Development. He will also be chairman of REACH.
Eric Chua, a former SCDF officer who got elected with Alvin Tan, will be appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and the Ministry of Social and Family Development
Rahayu Mahzam, a 40-year-old lawyer who looks 20 and has been elected into Jurong GRC, will be appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, with effect from 1 September
Now you might be wondering: simi is Minister of State, and why all the new MPs (except one) have become Ministers of State?
A ministry die-die must have a minister to run the ministry, but not all ministry has a Minister of State.
A Minister of State is like a junior minister that’ll help the full minister; sometimes, a person can be a Minister of State for more than two ministries. For example, former Sengkang GRC MP Dr Lam Pin Min was the Senior Minister of State for both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport. And that was why he was also the one who announced the PMD ban even when Khaw Boon Wan was the Transport Minister.
Usually, the path to a full minister starts from a Minister of State. For example former Education Minister and new Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung started off as a Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence once he was elected into Parliament.
So remember those names because it would be interesting if Desmond Tan becomes the Defence Minister. Like that he still need to serve ICT?
You can watch the entire announcement here:
Announced my new Cabinet line-up at a press conference this afternoon. In assembling this team, I sought to balance three things: continuity, exposure and renewal. This team will lead Singapore through our current health and economic crisis, and also plan for our future beyond the crisis, so that Singapore can recover strongly and seize opportunities in the post-COVID world. – LHL(PMO Video)
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, 25 July 2020
And now that we have our cabinet, we might have a shadow cabinet this time round.
First Time a Shadow Cabinet Would Be In
Unlike the 55 years of Singapore history, a Lee Hsien Loong Cabinet has always been like this:
But now, it’s going to be like this:
After the election, PM Lee said that Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh will be formally appointed the Leader of the Opposition.
That’s a first in Singapore history.
PM Lee had said, “I told Mr Singh that with 10 MPs, I think it is right that he, the Workers’ Party leader, be formally designated as the Leader of the Opposition, and that he will be provided with appropriate staff support and resources to perform his duties.”
And the Leader doesn’t just go to Parliament and debate; instead, he’ll also have his own Cabinet Ministers, though they’re called “Shadow Ministers”.
For example, the Leader can appoint Nicole Seah as the Shadow Education Minister. Ms Seah won’t be paid extra, nor would she be following Lawrence Wong whenever he goes. Instead, Ms Seah would be following Mr Wong’s policies very closely.
If Mr Wong decided to remove O-Level and A-Level completely, and let students go to universities based on their IPPT results, Ms Seah should think whether the opposition agrees or disagrees. If she disagrees, the opposition should come out with an alternate policy or solution: how about using NAPFA results instead of IPPT results instead?
So this new Cabinet is going to face more pressure since a shadow would be watching.
But it’s only through pressure that we improve, isn’t it?
And on a side note, politicians have been talking about NCMP (Non-Constituency Member of Parliament) in recent days. So, what’s an NCMP? Do you know that it’s just like an MP but the allowance is much lower? Watch this video to find out more: