Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong named a new trade and industry minister in a cabinet reshuffle, further preparing his party for a leadership transition sometime in the next few years.
Chan Chun Sing will be Minister for Trade and Industry from May 1, taking on duties currently shared by Lim Hng Kiang, who will step down, and S Iswaran, who will become Minister in Charge of Trade Relations. Chan, who turns 49 this year, will relinquish his position as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Chan will play a key role in an economy that is forecast to see solid growth in 2018 after an export boom last year gave the country its fastest expansion since 2014. Inflation remains within the government’s forecast range while its labor market is strengthening, but officials face longer-term challenges such as rapid aging and adjusting to the digital economy.
Lee, 66, is devolving more responsibilities from older ministers to the younger ones. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will take on the additional job of assisting the prime minister on National Research Foundation matters from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. Chan will take over responsibility for the Public Service Division from Teo.
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There was no movement in the finance minister post, which last changed hands in 2015, when Heng replaced Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam shortly after the government won a landslide election victory. Heng, who turns 57 this year, was part of a younger team of officials Lee promoted to show that the ruling People’s Action Party was preparing for succession.
Ong Ye Kung will remain Minister for Education with an expanded portfolio overseeing the entire ministry, from higher education and skills previously. He will relinquish his job as Second Minister for Defence. Josephine Teo will be Minister for Manpower, and Indranee Rajah will be promoted to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Finance and Second Minister for Education.