Gan Kim Yong to become DPM in Singapore Cabinet changes

Singapore Cabinet 2024

(Photo credit: Photo: CNA/Try Sutrisno Foo)

Source: Channel News Asia

Mr Gan Kim Yong will be promoted to Deputy Prime Minister as part of a Cabinet reshuffle announced on Monday (May 13) by incoming Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

Mr Gan, 65, will remain as Trade and Industry Minister and will be the Acting Prime Minister in the absence of the Prime Minister.

He will also take over as the chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and assume responsibility for the Strategy Group within the Prime Minister's Office.

Mr Gan will be appointed to his new roles on Wednesday when Mr Wong officially takes over the leadership reins from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Current Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, 63, will continue in his role.

Mr Wong, 51, also announced other promotions and appointments on Monday, but there were no major changes to the ministers helming each ministry in this reshuffle.

For example, Mr Wong will remain at the helm of the Finance Ministry.

Singapore Cabinet 2024


Speaking at a press conference at the Istana on Monday, Mr Wong said that continuity and stability are "key considerations" as the government approaches the end of its current term.

"All the ministers already have a full plate of work to see through, and some have also just rolled out new programmes in their ministries. To avoid any disruptions, I have decided to keep them in their present roles until the end of the term."

This is why he himself will remain as Finance Minister even after he becomes Prime Minister on May 15, he said.

On Mr Gan's promotion, the Prime Minister-designate said he and Mr Gan "went through the COVID baptism of fire together", and the latter was a "pillar of strength throughout".

Mr Gan's experience in international economics will help Singapore navigate the more contested global environment, he added.

For Mr Heng, Mr Wong said they entered politics in the same year in 2011 and worked together in the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance.

Describing both Mr Gan and Mr Heng as experienced ministers, the incoming Prime Minister said they will "provide a steady hand" in this initial transition period, and help to mentor younger political officeholders.

"I'm glad they will be supporting me as my deputies," said Mr Wong, adding that he values their advice and counsel.

Mr Lee's deputies when he first took office at 52 in 2004 were Dr Tony Tan and Professor S Jayakumar, who were 64 and 65 respectively at the time.

Noting that his new team is a "good mix" of experienced ministers and younger officeholders, Mr Wong said he plans to rotate the People's Action Party's (PAP) fourth-generation, or 4G, ministers to different portfolios to "give them wider exposure and experience" if the party is re-elected after this term of government.

"Among them, I'm sure some will be able to step up and take over from their senior colleagues in due course," he continued, adding that there will also be junior office holders who can take on more responsibilities.

"But we will still need more fresh blood as some of the older ministers are likely to retire either at the end of this term or shortly after. And so I'm actively looking for new candidates with the potential to be office holders," said Mr Wong.

"I aim to further renew and strengthen the team with new members, especially men and women in their 30s and 40s. There's no higher priority for me, and that is to form the best possible team to serve Singapore and Singaporeans."

Responding to a question about not appointing a Second Minister for the Ministry of Defence as an "understudy" to current Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Mr Wong reiterated that senior ministers are likely to ask to retire "in time to come", and he would have to look for successors for them.

"It doesn't have to be from the ministry. It could be from the existing pool of ministers we already have," he continued.

"And that’s why I also mentioned that after the General Election, we will look at vocations or portfolios, we will look at possibilities of giving some of the 4G ministers wider exposure."

Responding to another question about Mr Wong's key considerations in appointing Mr Gan as Deputy Prime Minister, the former acknowledged that the current Minister for Trade and Industry is "not quite 4G".

"But that's ok, because … I am looking at ensuring continuity and stability while renewing the team," Mr Wong continued.

"And I think, for me, during this initial period of transition, it will be useful to have two more experienced ministers as my deputies."


The Cabinet reshuffle, which was announced after Mr Wong accepted President Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s invitation to form the next government - also saw Minister of State Low Yen Ling being promoted to Senior Minister of State in her current ministries: the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry. She will also continue as mayor of the South West District.

Minister of State Desmond Tan will be promoted to Senior Minister of State. He will continue in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the National Trades Union Congress.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary Rahayu Mahzam will be promoted to Minister of State, and will take up a new appointment in the Ministry of Communications and Information.

Ms Rahayu will continue in the Ministry of Health, but will relinquish her appointment in the Ministry of Law.

Mr Lee will stay in the Cabinet as Senior Minister after stepping down as leader of the government, as announced previously. He will remain as chairman of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council.

Singapore Cabinet 2024


Two backbenchers have been appointed as political officeholders.

Bukit Batok Member of Parliament (MP) Murali Pillai will be appointed Minister of State in the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Transport.

Jurong GRC MP Shawn Huang will be appointed Senior Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance.

These appointments will also be made on May 15.

The appointment holders will be sworn in on the same day, with the exception of Mr Murali who will be appointed and sworn in on Jul 1.

The Senior Parliamentary Secretaries will be appointed on May 15 and sworn in on May 24.

The last Cabinet reshuffle was in Jun 2022 when Mr Wong was promoted to Deputy Prime Minister, two months after he was named leader of PAP's 4G team.

Mr Wong will be sworn in at 8pm on Wednesday at the Istana, making him Singapore's fourth Prime Minister. He will take over from Mr Lee who is stepping down after 20 years as leader of the government. 

Mr Wong said last month that bigger changes to the Cabinet will likely happen only after Singapore's next General Election, which must be held by November 2025.