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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        20  May 2011

Lee reshuffles Singapore cabinet

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Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday sent the strongest signal yet that he intends to transform the way Singapore is governed with a major cabinet shake-up.

The sweeping changes, which he described as “radical' and “epochal,” will put new ministers at the helm of 11 of the 14 ministries and see Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam promoted to Deputy Prime Minister.

Nine veterans in government when the May 7 polls were called will no longer hold office.

They include three ministers whose retirement was announced on Wednesday — Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan and Transport Minister Raymond Lim.

The trimmer, more youthful leadership team to be sworn in on Saturday includes seven new office-holders.

They are new Members of Parliament Heng Swee Keat, Chan Chun Sing, Tan Chuan-Jin, Lawrence Wong and Sim Ann, as well as backbenchers Halimah Yacob and Josephine Teo.

Lee has also taken the unusual step of appointing political newcomers to the top spot in two ministries.

Heng, 50, the former central bank chief, will be the new Education Minister, while Major-General (NS) Chan, 41, the former Chief of Army, becomes Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

The new cabinet will be 15-strong, trimmed from 21 previously, and the average age of ministers will fall to 53 from 59.

“It's a fresh slate after a watershed election,” said Mr Lee on Wednesday, flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Tharman at a 40-minute Istana press conference.

The faster pace of appointment of newly elected MPs “reflects the urgency of leadership succession,” he added. He has set himself a 2020 deadline to hand over to the fourth generation leadership.

He said all ministers would have a free hand to rethink and reshape policies, and the Cabinet would review policies and approaches and come up with new ones.

His team would work hard “to engage a new generation of Singaporeans in order to take Singapore forward in a more complex environment, more complex externally and I think more complex within Singapore too.”

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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