Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced his new Cabinet, 15 days after his ruling People’s Action Party bagged 61.24 per cent of the votes in the 2020 general election.
The swearing-in ceremony for the Cabinet and other office holders will take place on Monday at the Istana — the official residence and office of the President of Singapore — and Parliament House.
Lee’s PAP party has retained power with a “clear mandate” in the general election held on July 10 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The PAP, in power since 1965, won 83 of the 93 parliamentary seats or 61.24 per cent of the vote.
The election was widely seen as a referendum on the prime minister’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Singapore is currently facing the city state’s worst recession with economy projected to shrink between 7 and 4 per cent. Lee’s party has a strong focus and plan for enhancing the role of SMEs in country’s economy.
Singapore is only a handful of countries to have held an election during the pandemic.
The new Cabinet will have 37 political office holders, the same as the previous one.
Lee said the new Cabinet seeks to balance continuity, exposure and renewal, and be a team that leads Singapore through the current public health and economic crisis and into the future.
Heng Swee Keat remains in his posts as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. However, he has also been named as Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies in the new Cabinet.
Teo Chee Hean retains his post as Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, while Indian-origin Tharman Shanmugaratnam stays as Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies. Both the ministers will also serve in the Prime Ministers’ Office.
“In normal times, we need experienced ministers to provide steady hands, and also to mentor the younger ministers. And in this crisis, this need is even greater,” Lee said.
While Indian-origin K Shanmugam will stay on as Law and Home Affairs Minister, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, also of Indian descent, remains the Foreign Affairs Minister.
Another Indian-origin politician S Iswaran retains his post as Minister of Communications and Information.
Indranee Rajah will be appointed Second Minister for National Development, and relinquish her appointment as Second Minister for Education. She will remain as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and as Second Minister for Finance.
Dr Janil Puthucheary will be appointed Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Health. He will continue to serve in the Ministry of Communications and Information.
There are many new faces as well. They include Gan Siow Huang — Minister of State in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Manpower; Alvin Tan — Minister of State in the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the Ministry of Trade and Industry; and Desmond Tan — Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment.