PM makes 3rd round of Cabinet changes

SINGAPORE - Two years after entering politics, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing, 44, is being promoted to full minister, charting one of the fastest rises in recent times.

The former army chief's elevation was among several moves the PM's Office announced on Wednesday, including enlisting of two backbenchers to the front bench and a record number of promotions for women office-holders.

The changes underscore the gathering pace of transition to the fourth-generation leadership, as Mr Chan joins Education Minister Heng Swee Keat as the two full Cabinet ministers among those who entered politics in May 2011. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he wanted to reinforce his team and promote those who have done well.

The changes also reflect a strengthening of the team looking at social policies which have become more complex, he told reporters yesterday during his official visit to China.

And while these are a third set of changes since 2011, PM Lee made clear that he is not done. "After the election, I had a new Cabinet. It was a very lean team and since then, gradually, year by year, I've been building up, reinforcing, adding one or two here and there, and this is another step in that direction," he said.

Mr Chan thanked the PM and his colleagues, adding that "there is much for us to work together in the coming years to realise the direction that PM has charted out in National Day Rally 2013".

The rise of Mr Chan, who will also become Second Minister for Defence, outpaces that of the stars of previous cohorts, including Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who joined politics in 2001 and was made full minister in 2004.

The DPM was from the class of the "Super Seven" which has since formed the backbone of the third-generation leadership.

After the 2011 General Election, Mr Chan was among the "Fabulous Five" selected for political office. Leading the team, Mr Heng Swee Keat, at age 50, made it to full minister then. Mr Chan was made Acting Minister while Mr Tan Chuan-Jin and Mr Lawrence Wong became Ministers of State, before moving up to be Acting Ministers a year later.

Also in that batch, Ms Sim Ann became Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education, and Communications and Information. Yesterday, she was promoted to Minister of State.

Mr Tan will give up his second appointment as Senior Minister of State for National Development. The PM said it was so he "can concentrate on his responsibility at MOM" as "taking on two portfolios is too heavy".

Backbenchers Desmond Lee of Jurong GRC and Low Yen Ling of Chua Chu Kang GRC will join the front bench. Mr Lee will be Minister of State for National Development. Ms Low will be a Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

Apart from Ms Low and Ms Sim, two other women, Dr Amy Khor and Mrs Josephine Teo, moved a notch higher to become Senior Ministers of State in their current portfolios. Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman was also promoted from Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Defence and National Development to Minister of State.

Observers noted that the latest moves continue a deliberate but urgent process of leadership renewal begun in 2011.

Nominated MP Eugene Tan said: "It demonstrates confidence to the public that 'we have brought in people who can be part of the fourth- generation leadership, we are testing them and putting them in place'."

The changes take effect on Sept 1, except for Ms Low's which will be on Oct 1.

Next page: Details of reshuffle

Cabinet reshuffle

Mr Chan Chun Sing

Promoted from Acting Minister to full Minister for Social and Family Development. Promoted from Senior Minister of State to Second Minister for Defence.

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin

Relinquishes appointment as Senior Minister of State for National Development . Continues as Acting Minister for Manpower

Dr Amy Khor

Promoted from Minister of State to Senior Minister of State for Health as well as Manpower

Mrs Josephine Teo

Promoted from Minister of State to Senior Minister of State for Finance as well as Transport

Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman

Promoted from Senior Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State for Defence as well as National Development

Ms Sim Ann

Promoted from Senior Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State for Education as well as Communications and Information

Mr Desmond Lee

Appointed Minister of State for National Development

Ms Low Yen Ling

Appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development

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