PM Lee nominates Tan Chuan-Jin for Speaker of Parliament, Desmond Lee to take over as MSF minister

This means Minister Tan will no longer be a Minister.

By Sulaiman Daud | September 5, 2017

Ever since Halimah Yacob stepped down as Speaker of Parliament, her duties were temporarily assumed by Deputy Speaker Charles Chong.

But a new name has emerged to fulfil the role as Singapore’s next Speaker.

In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Tuesday afternoon that he has nominated Minister of Social and Family development Tan Chuan-Jin to the role.

The post, which you can see below, was accompanied by a black-and-white photo of the two of them in their younger days.

The full text of his post is reproduced below:

I have nominated Tan Chuan-Jin to be the next Speaker of Parliament.

I first discussed this with Chuan-Jin after Mdm Halimah Yacob told me she was resigning to run for President. It was not easy to find a suitable replacement. While Chuan-Jin stood out as the best choice, it was a very difficult decision to nominate him, as it meant losing an effective activist at MSF Singapore.

As Speaker, Chuan-Jin will have to preside over Parliamentary debates, and ensure fair and full discussion of national issues. Chuan-Jin has the temperament and personality for this role. Since entering politics, he has built up good links with a diverse range of NGOs, VWOs and interest groups.

As Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF), Chuan-Jin has taken a deep interest in social issues, and in helping the needy and disadvantaged. He launched many initiatives, e.g. KidStart for children of disadvantaged families, and SG Cares to encourage Singaporeans to give back to society. These programmes will deepen our social capital and help build a more gracious, compassionate and cohesive society.

Previously at Singapore Ministry of Manpower, Chuan-Jin championed low income workers, as he introduced the progressive wage model and led Government efforts to protect these workers and improve their lives.

As Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of National Development (MND), Chuan-Jin built good rapport with the heritage, nature, environmental and animal welfare groups. He involved them in working out solutions for the Rail Corridor and Bukit Brown. Other collaborations resulted in our first Marine Park and amendments to the Animal and Birds Act. Chuan-Jin continues to advise MND informally on environmental and animal welfare issues.

Chuan-Jin remains an important member of my team, though in a different role. I have asked him to maintain his interest in environmental and social issues, and his concern for the needy and disadvantaged. I am glad he has agreed to continue advising MND on these issues, and to oversee SG Cares, after he becomes Speaker. To complement this, he will be appointed Advisor to NCSS Singapore. Naturally, Chuan-Jin will continue to lead Marine Parade GRC.

Chuan-Jin is also the President to the Singapore National Olympic Council. This is an elected post, not a Government appointment. But I hope that he will keep on leading and inspiring our sporting fraternity, as he did recently at the SEA Games.

You can read the full PMO press release here:

(#throwback photo of Chuan-Jin and me from 1989! I was then in MINDEF and handed him his scholarship award and sword at the completion of his Guards Conversion Course./ Photo from Tan Chuan-Jin’s Facebook)

Tan’s response: announce Desmond Lee as successor

Tan responded with a Facebook post of his own, almost simultaneously, which you can see below. It also features the same photo:

As Speaker of Parliament, Tan’s duties will include:

  • Presiding over the sittings of the House and enforces the rules prescribed in the Standing Orders of Parliament for the orderly conduct of parliamentary business.
  • Regulating and enforcing the rules of debate. The Speaker decides who has the right to speak and puts the question for the House to debate on and vote.
  • Acting as the representative of the House in its relations with other Parliaments and outside bodies. The Speaker also welcomes visiting dignitaries and represents Parliament at national events and during official visits abroad.

According to the Constitution, the Speaker of Parliament cannot be elected from MPs who are office-holders. This means that Tan has to resign from his current post of Minister for Social and Family Development.

And in the lower half of his post, Tan slid in a surprise for those who didn’t initially click PM Lee’s link:

I am pleased that Desmond Lee will be taking over as Minister for Social and Family Development. I have worked closely with him on a range of issues and I know that he cares deeply about the kind of Singapore we want to build. He will strengthen the building blocks of society that is the family. He will also actively look out for those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable, even as we engage the public in nurturing a more compassionate and inclusive society.

The PMO’s press release contains further details as to the shake-up of the Cabinet as a result of this change:

“Mr Desmond Lee will be appointed Minister for Social and Family Development. He will continue as Second Minister in the Ministry of National Development, but will relinquish his appointments in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office.”

“Mrs Josephine Teo will be appointed as Second Minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs, and will relinquish her appointment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She will continue as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister in the Ministry of Manpower.”

To re-cap:

  • Tan Chuan-Jin will stand for election as Speaker of Parliament.
  • Desmond Lee will be promoted to Minister for Social and Family Development.
  • Desmond Lee will relinquish his appointments in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the PMO.
  • Josephine Teo will be appointed as Second Minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Josephine Teo will relinquish her role at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Gif from LiterallyDarling


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Top photo: screenshot from Parliament video

About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve. In his spare time he writes about film, pop-culture and international politics, which you are very welcome to read here.

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