Three veteran ministers stepping down to make way for younger colleagues: report

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking in Parliament. Three ministers are said to be moving to the backbench in the next Cabinet reshuffle. (Image from video released by Parliament via AP)

Three veteran ministers in Singapore’s government are expected to give up their posts as younger members of the Cabinet are given new portfolios, The Straits Times (ST) reported on Saturday (14 April).

Citing MPs and political analysts, ST said Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say and Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim may step down from the front bench in an upcoming Cabinet reshuffle. This means they would continue to be Members of Parliament but would not hold Cabinet positions.

The ministers expected to be leaving the Cabinet are all in their 60s. Lim Hng Kiang is 64 years old, Lim Swee Say is 63, and Yaacob is 62.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had earlier announced in February that he would reshuffle the Cabinet before Parliament reconvenes in May, in order to give younger ministers more exposure and responsibility.

Younger ministers Heng Swee Keat, Chan Chun Sing and Ong Ye Kung may be given charge of new portfolios that would plug gaps in their experience, ST’s sources said.

Amid questions over leadership renewal in Singapore, media and political observers have said Heng, Ong and Chan are contenders to be the next prime minister.

Heng, 56, is currently the Finance Minister.

Ong, 48, is one of two Education Ministers, in charge of higher education and skills. He is also Second Minister for Defence. The other education minister is Ng Chee Meng.

Chan, 48, is a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. He is also Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress, an important post in a government that has traditionally worked closely with the labour movement.

Parliament will re-open in May with an address by President Halimah Yacob, and Lee said he was asking the fourth generation of ministers to draft the government’s agenda for the address to “give Singaporeans a better sense of them and their thoughts”.

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