Commentary: Cabinet reshuffle shows how leaders are assembling around Lawrence Wong for complex tasks ahead

Other 4G leaders like Ms Grace Fu at the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, and Mrs Josephine Teo, former Manpower Minister and now Minister for Communications and Information, have been able to build international policy networks and could be primed to do more in Government.

And, needless to say, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and Education Minister Chan Chun Sing are already heavy-hitters among this ascendant cohort of leaders.

What then should we make of the promotions of junior officeholders in the reshuffle? They are in wards that are likely to see transitions in anchor ministers before or after the next general election: Ms Rahayu Mahzam in SM Tharman’s Jurong group representation constituency (GRC), Mr Tan Kiat How in Mr Heng Swee Keat’s East Coast GRC and Mr Chee Hong Tat in Dr Ng’s Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, who has been brought back from his immersion in the labour movement at NTUC.

Observers will also be watching if Dr Janil Puthucheary and Mr Desmond Tan are made full ministers in the next few years to power up the leadership bench in SM Teo Chee Hean's Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

The Forward Singapore conversations will help identify which of the 2022 cohort of leaders have the political and policy chops for ministerial office, in addition to Dr Tan See Leng who is Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry.

Mr Wong may provide further indications of who else can form his inner circle or be his deputies after the year-end PAP convention when members of the Central Executive Committee are elected, now that the question of succession has been settled.

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They will have to convince the country of plausible and transformative approaches to interpreting their party's vision of a progressive, inclusive and cohesive society in a troubled and changing world.

Dr Gillian Koh is Deputy Director (Research) at the Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore.

Artmotion Asia

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