A day in the life of a minister

A day in the life of a minister

SINGAPORE - Have you ever wondered what our Ministers do on a daily basis?

A new video released by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam will show you just how hectic a day in the life of a Minister can get.

The video is filmed by a group of volunteers who shadowed Mr Shanmugam on October 20, 2014, documenting the things he did a day before Deepavali.

He begins his day at 9am not at the Ministry, but at a breakfast meeting with Bob Carr, the former foreign minister of Australia, in town to share best practices. Mr Carr's insights will allow Singapore to improve on foreign policy and learn from Australia.

At 10am, Mr Shanmugam meets with the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) of which he is a trustee. Besides donating to Project GIVE, SINDA board members take this opportunity to speak with the Minister on new initiatives they want to take.

After the morning's work is done, Mr Shanmugam goes to his first job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) for the Ministerial Staff Meeting. As Minister, he leads the discussion on foreign policy issues.

They have a lot of work to get done today, as Mr Shanmugam is leaving for Japan the next day. However, as not all the issues can be sufficiently covered at the core meeting, the rest of the morning is devoted to smaller meetings with individual policy desk officers.

Mr Shanmugam's lunch is not a time for him to enjoy his meal, as he has a working lunch with Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee.

At 2pm, Mr Shanmugam is off to his second job at the Ministry of Law, where the new Family Justice Bill and a speech to be given at a university in November are on the agenda. In between those tasks, there is a series of meetings with diplomats from the Philippines, Colombia, and Chile.

At 6:15, Mr Shanmugam leaves the Ministry - but he doesn't go home, not yet. He leaves for what is perhaps his most important meeting for the day, the Meet the People Session (MPS) with the residents of his constituency of Chong Pang in Yishun.

To prepare for the numerous housing, immigration, and welfare issues raised by his residents, Mr Shanmugam has a working dinner with Mr Terence Ho, HDB's General Manager for Yishun.

It is only at 9pm that things quieten down at the MPS for Mr Shanmugam to leave for the last two engagements for the day: a Deepavali celebration at the Sree Narayana Mission Home and a dinner and getai performance organised by Hwee San Temple.

Finally, at 11pm, Mr Shanmugam drives home to check on the emails that have come in over the last few hours and pack for his trip to Japan.

"In this job there's no such thing as a public holiday," Mr Shanmugam said, "The Japanese don't celebrate Deepavali and these are the days that work for them."

By 7am the next day, Mr Shanmugam is at Changi Airport, sending out a few last-minute emails before boarding his flight.

He is leading a delegation from the MFA to talk about stability in the region and to build closer ties with one of Asia's largest economies.

While many of us fly overseas for holidays, it is still work for Mr Shanmugam - just another day of work in the life of a minister.

andrewg@sph.com.sg

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