He's not ruling out politics

He's not ruling out politics
Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Is Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng entering politics?

Speculation is rife as the Lieutenant-General is set to leave his position on Aug 18.

LG Ng, 47, said in a Mindef release: "While I do not rule out the option of returning to the Administrative Service or entering politics if the opportunity presents itself, my immediate focus is on handing over my duties to the incoming Chief of Defence Force."

Major-General Perry Lim, who is Chief of Army, will take LG Ng's place.

LG Ng's retirement was announced by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in a Facebook post yesterday.

In the post, Dr Ng commended LG Ng for his "stellar contributions" in over 28 years in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and said he "retires on a high note, having brought the SAF through many challenges and changes successfully".

Adding that questions about LG Ng's future plans and entry into politics are "inevitable", the Defence Minister wrote: "Given his tested leadership and proven capabilities, I would not at all be surprised, if indeed he is."

LG Ng's move comes close to the much bandied-about general election date of Sept 12.

MILITARY MEN

Many wonder whether the 47-year-old will follow in the footsteps of other former military men in politics.

Of the current Cabinet (of 18 men and one woman), seven men used to hold high-level military appointments.

They are: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say, Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin and labour chief Chan Chun Sing.

Political analyst Eugene Tan said the proportion of former military men - more than a third - in the Cabinet is "quite significant for an establishment".

On LG Ng's comments that he will not rule out entering politics, the Singapore Management University law don said the non-denial "is as good as a done deal".

"You could read between the lines," Associate Professor Tan said of LG Ng's comments.

National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser agreed.

"(He is) likely to enter politics and be appointed as minister. Moreover, he is a three-star general, while Chan Chun Sing was two-star and Tan Chuan-Jin, one-star," he said.

fjieying@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 1, 2015.
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