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Wednesday, 30 September 2015


If there is any surprise to this new cabinet line-up, it is the immediate ascension of two new MPs to Acting Ministers.

Given the three key pillars of national governance, Defense, Economy, and Education, one interesting development that we can look out for in the future is whether Ng Chee Meng is going to be the next ordained leader, or at least reaching the DPM level first.

Goh Chok Tong was previously Defense Minister and Lee Hsien Loong was previously Finance Minister. Among the present DPMs, Teo Chee Hian was at both Education and Defense, and Tharman Shanmugaratnam was at Education and Finance.

Doctrine wise, the Defense Ministry will always be ranked above the others, but in practice Finance and Education stands on par.

Understandably, Singapore is held up strongly by its wealth and reputation as a financial centre, but without any other form of marketable commodities, equipping its people with the skills and knowledge to a highly sought after level becomes naturally imminent. We have nothing to sell other than what we can do and what we can think of next.

But with social behavioral changes manifested in Singaporeans and, as those who are critical of the government charged, we no longer can take Singaporeans as mere numbers although we did not literally do that. The difference then and now is, what we do now on the social dimension must also be seen widely and loudly.

Effectively DPM Tharman coordinates the economy and the social environment needed for the economy to grow uninterrupted. He is one of the three Coordinating Ministers heading unspecified groupings of ministries that will see more fine tuning of policies and better integration in their implementation.

We are also seeing two Ministers of Trade and Industry. There are few reads to this. First is of course whether Lim Hng Khiang will retire within this term and more younger leaders will be promoted? Between Lim Hng Khiang and Ishwaran, Hng Khiang is more a bolts and nuts man where Ishwaran is more like a high level sales person. So it perplexed me where Hng Khiang is with "trade" and Ishwaran, "industry". There may be a diminishing role in "industry" Singapore can play in the international marketplace. We still need to produce to export, but it is getting too tough these days.

One last observation is, and I am quite sure PM is both thinking and feeling it too when he makes the decision.....the HAZE. Vivian Balakrishnan to me could not deal effectively with the Indonesians. It was previously managed by Yacoob Ibrahim. I believed Masagos will be able to relate to the Indonesians better though the haze for now and near future is best managed by praying for the best wind direction.

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