Gan Kim Yong promoted to DPM in Lawrence Wong’s Cabinet; minimal changes to line-up

Gan Kim Yong promoted to DPM in Lawrence Wong’s Cabinet; minimal changes to line-up

Gan Kim Yong promoted to DPM in Lawrence Wong’s Cabinet; minimal changes to line-up


SINGAPORE - Singapore’s next prime minister Lawrence Wong unveiled his Cabinet on May 13, with Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong to be appointed as deputy prime minister. 


Deputy Prime Minister Wong, 51, who will be sworn in as Singapore’s fourth prime minister on May 15, will continue as Finance Minister, a role he has taken on since May 2021.


Outgoing PM Lee Hsien Loong had remained finance minister for three years after he became prime minister in 2004.

At a press conference, DPM Wong – flanked by Mr Gan and DPM Heng Swee Keat – said he sought to balance the need for continuity and renewal in assembling his Cabinet.


“Continuity and stability are key considerations, especially as we are approaching the end of this term of government,” he said.


DPM Wong said of Mr Gan, who co-chaired the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 alongside him: “Through the course of working together, we’ve come to get to know each other’s working styles better, and in this period of increased geopolitical tensions, his experience in international economics will also help us navigate a more contested global environment.”


Mr Gan, 65, said he was grateful and humbled to be given the opportunity to step up, although he is “not quite” part of the People’s Action Party fourth-generation team.


“It is indeed my honour to be given this opportunity, and I will do my best to support the new prime minister and his team,” he said.


Mr Gan will continue as Minister for Trade and Industry, a position he has filled since May 2021. At the press conference, he also said he would continue to focus on economic issues in this role.


Mr Heng, 63, will remain as Deputy Prime Minister, but Mr Gan will be the acting PM in the PM’s absence, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a separate statement. Mr Gan will also assume responsibility for the Strategy Group within the PMO, which coordinates policies and plans across the Government.


DPM Wong said Mr Heng and Mr Gan are experienced ministers and will provide a steady hand in this initial period of transition. “I will be able to tap their views and expertise as I take on my new responsibility, and they will also help me to mentor our younger office-holder colleagues,” he said.


If his government is re-elected, DPM Wong said he plans to rotate the younger 4G ministers in different portfolios and give them wider exposure and experience. “Amongst them, I’m sure some will be able to step up and take over from their senior colleagues in due course,” he said.


Nevertheless, DPM Wong said more “fresh blood” is needed as some of the older ministers are likely to retire either at the end of this term or shortly after.


Pointing out that he is actively looking for new candidates with the potential to be office-holders at the moment, he said he aims to further renew and strengthen the team with new members, especially men and women in their 30s and 40s.


“There is no higher priority for me and that is to form the best possible team to serve Singapore and Singaporeans,” he added. He said that there will be a few among the junior office-holders who will be able to take on larger responsibilities as well.


The PMO also announced that Mr Gan will replace DPM Wong as chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.


The new line-up – announced after DPM Wong accepted President Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s invitation to form the next government – also provided confirmation that PM Lee, 72, will stay on in the Cabinet as senior minister. PM Lee will also remain chairman of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council.


Meanwhile, two ministers of state – Ms Low Yen Ling, 49, and Mr Desmond Tan, 54 – are to be promoted to senior ministers of state. They will serve in the new role in their existing portfolios, under the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth for Ms Low, and under the PMO for Mr Tan.


Senior Parliamentary Secretary Rahayu Mahzam, 43, will be promoted to minister of state. With the promotion, she will relinquish her appointment in the Ministry of Law, but continue to serve in the Health Ministry as she takes up a new appointment in the Ministry of Communications and Information.


Meanwhile, two backbenchers have been brought in to strengthen the team. They are Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai, 56, and Jurong GRC MP Shawn Huang, 41, who served as a fighter pilot before entering politics and is director for enterprise development at Temasek.


Mr Huang will be appointed senior parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance, while Mr Murali, who is a lawyer, will step into a larger role as minister of state in the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Transport.


The appointment holders will be sworn in on May 15, with the exception of Mr Murali, who will be appointed and sworn in on July 1, and the senior parliamentary secretaries, who will be sworn in on May 24.


Earlier in the day, Mr Tharman exchanged letters with both PM Lee and DPM Wong, in which the President thanked the outgoing PM for his “selfless service” in government, and said he has “every confidence” that the incoming PM will lead Singapore with honour.


In a Facebook post that followed, President Tharman said he saw first-hand PM Lee’s sense of duty to Singapore and his ability to inspire over the years he had spent working with him as a Cabinet minister before he resigned in 2023 to stand for the presidency.


The President also said he had watched DPM Wong “grow as a leader”, having known him for over two decades. “I have the highest regard for him,” he said. “He will in my view make an excellent PM for Singapore in the changing times to come.”


Ting, W. P. (2024, May 13). Gan Kim Yong promoted to DPM in Lawrence Wong’s Cabinet; minimal changes to line-up. The Straits Times.

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