Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced on Facebook on Friday, July 31, 2015 that Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng will retire from the Singapore Armed Forces and step down as Chief of Defence Force on Aug. 18.
Speculation is rife that the 47-year-old might be running in the upcoming General Election believed to be held in September 2015. If he enters parliament, he will be the highest ranking military officer in political office. Ever.
Minister Ng also posted a cryptic message in his Facebook post, which will fuel the speculation about Lieutenant-General Ng's political ambition:
Inevitably, there will be questions asked about LG Ng’s future plans, particularly, if he is entering politics. Given his tested leadership and proven capabilities, I would not at all be surprised, if indeed he is. But I have advised LG Ng not to be distracted or entertain these queries but to instead focus on important national events ahead, particularly the National Day Parade. There will be a more appropriate time to address interests in his future plans. I thank Chee Meng for all the good that he has done for the SAF and wish him every success in his future endeavours. I ask the men and women of the SAF to give their strongest support to the new CDF and COA.
Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng's career
Ng was appointed Chief of Defence Force on March 27, 2013. He joined the SAF in December 1986, was awarded the SAF Overseas Training Award (Graduating) in 1987 and was the top student in the Singapore Command and Staff College in 1999.
In 2002, he was awarded the SAF Postgraduate Award.
A fighter pilot by vocation, Lieutenant-General Ng held various key command and staff appointments over 28 years of service.
Prior to his last appointment as Chief of Defence Force, he was also the Chief of Air Force.
Ng currently sits on the Boards of Singapore Technologies Engineering, Defence Science and Technology Agency, and Jurong Town Corporation.
Having high-ranking military men joining politics is nothing new
In the current Cabinet, seven men used to hold high-level military appointments. Of the seven, four left the SAF immediately prior to elections.
1. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean: Former Rear-Admiral in the Republic of Singapore Navy, and served as Chief of Navy before he quit to contest in the 1992 by-election in Marine Parade.
2. Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew: Was a Rear-Admiral in the Navy and Chief of Navy from 1999 to 2003. Before he was elected to Parliament in 2006, he held high-level positions as CEO of the Maritime and Port Authority and the Housing and Development Board. In April this year, he took on a concurrent role as Second Minister for Defence.
3. Labour chief Chan Chun Sing: Former Major-General and Chief of Army left the SAF on Mar 25, 2011 and entered politics at the General Election 2011. Poling day was on May 7, 2011. He is currently NTUC Secretary-General.
4. Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin: Was a Brigadier-General in the Army and is now minister for Social and Family Development. Left the SAF on Mar 25, 2011 and entered politics six weeks later at the General Election 2011. Poling day was on May 7, 2011.
5. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say: Lim won a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) scholarship to study engineering in Britain and he served the SAF for eight years.
6. Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang: Lim was awarded the President's Scholarship, as well as the SAF Scholarship to read Engineering at Cambridge University. Lim spent nine years in the SAF where he held both command and staff positions.
7. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: Youngest Brigadier-General in the Army's history. Left in 1984. Elected to Parliament at the age of 32.
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