PM Lee wrote to NTUC President asking for Koh Poh Koon to 'return to govt', Chee Hong Tat to replace him

Koh will continue as the Senior Minister of State for Health, while Chee will relinquish his role as Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

Ashley Tan | April 23, 2021, 04:33 PM

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle on Apr. 23.

If you haven't heard the news, here's a rundown of the key changes.

Additional role

Senior Minister of State for Health, Koh Poh Koon, will be moving around as well.

He will be taking on the additional role of Senior Minister of State for Manpower.

This was revealed in an exchange of letters between PM Lee and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) President Mary Liew.

Aside from his Ministry appointments, Koh has also served as the NTUC Deputy Secretary-General on a part-time basis since 2018.

In a letter to Liew dated Apr. 21, PM Lee requested for the NTUC Central Committee to allow Koh to "return to the Government".

"Poh Koon has supported the NTUC Secretary-General as an additional interface between the Labour Movement and Government agencies, and strengthened the close and symbiotic relationship between the NTUC and the PAP government."

During the press conference announcing the reshuffle, PM Lee stated that "it's very good for the labour movement to have someone familiar at MOM".

Chee Hong Tat to replace Koh Poh Koon

On Apr. 22, the NTUC Central Committee met and accepted PM Lee’s request. Liew replied to PM Lee, and informed that Koh had tendered his resignation, which will take effect on May 15.

Liew also commended Koh for "driving our efforts in the Progressive Wage Model as well as training and transformation".

She said:

"We would like to place on record our appreciation to Brother Poh Koon for taking care of the interests of our lower-wage workers and pushing for productivity improvements via our training and transformation efforts."

PM Lee revealed that after discussion with Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat will take Koh's place, and will relinquish his previous appointment as Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

PM Lee added that Chee's concurrent appointment in the Transport Ministry and prior experience in the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the public service will be a boon to his new role.

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Top photo from MCI and PAP website.