|March 30, 2008|
|TOP OF THE NEWS|
|By Lydia Lim|
|TOP lawyer and four-term Member of Parliament K. Shanmugam becomes Law Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs from May1.He succeeds Professor S. Jayakumar at the Law Ministry, who leaves the post after 20 years.
Prof Jayakumar, however, continues as Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security. He will also oversee foreign policy matters which cut across different ministries.
Mr Wong Kan Seng remains Home Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr Shanmugam’s appointment is the first time since 1985 that an MP has jumped from the backbench to the post of full-fledged Cabinet minister.
In 1985, Dr Richard Hu, who was previously chairman and chief executive of the Shell group of companies in Singapore, became Trade and Industry Minister one month after being elected MP.
The new Cabinet line-up unveiled by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday also includes changes at the helm of the Education and Manpower ministries.
From Tuesday, Mr Gan Kim Yong will be Acting Minister for Manpower, taking over from Dr Ng Eng Hen, who will relinquish his Manpower portfolio to helm the Education Ministry.
Mr Gan entered politics in 2001 and was appointed Minister of State for Manpower and Education in October 2005. He will now hold the grade of Senior Minister of State.
Dr Ng takes over Education, replacing Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was appointed Finance Minister in December last year.
This is the first Cabinet reshuffle since May 2006, when Mr Lee announced a new team shortly after winning his first General Election as PM.
Five Ministers of State have been promoted to Senior Ministers of State, including Mr Gan. Among the four others are two who were inducted into politics only in 2006: Ms Grace Fu and Rear Admiral (NS) Lui Tuck Yew.
Also promoted to Senior Ministers of State are Mrs Lim Hwee Hua and Mr S. Iswaran.
First-term MP Teo Ser Luck moves up from Parliamentary Secretary to Senior Parliamentary Secretary.
These changes aside, the Cabinet line-up remains largely unchanged, although some ministers who had two portfolios have given up one while others have assumed additional duties.
At the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica), Dr Lee Boon Yang remains minister, contrary to earlier speculation that he might retire.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who is Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, relinquishes his appointment as Second Mica Minister.
Newly promoted Senior Minister of State Lui adds Mica to his current Education portfolio.
Overall, political observers described the changes as ‘incremental’. Some, including veteran MP Charles Chong, were disappointed that no woman has yet been appointed minister.
DPM Jayakumar gave his incoming successor at the Law Ministry a sterling endorsement, describing Mr Shanmugam as one of Singapore’s most outstanding lawyers.
‘He will be a valuable asset, not just to the ministry, but to the PM’s Cabinet as a whole,’ he said.
Shanmugam gets Law in new Cabinet line-up
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