The Singapore Cabinet shake-up continues as Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the new Singapore Cabinet yesterday. Usually a dull affair with the ministers playing musical chairs, this new Cabinet is causing some shockwaves in Singapore as three long-time ministers are retiring from the Singapore Cabinet.
Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security Wong Kan Seng, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan and Transport Minister and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Raymond Lim, are all “stepping down” from their posts. This is just days after Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong announced that they are also stepping down from the Cabinet. Along with the defeat of Foreign Minister George Yeo in the General Election 2011 (GE 2011), the new Singapore Cabinet got a decidedly new look to it.
Now everyone in Singapore believes the shake-up is due to the results of GE 2011 as both Mr. Wong Kan Seng and Mr. Mah Bow Tan came under heavy criticism in the election. However PM Lee has refused to admit this, saying that the three men had expressed a desire to step down from their post before GE 2011 and he was the one who asked them to stay on.
I think this is a mistake. Already Singapore People’s Party (SPP) chief Chiam See Tong has singled out Mr. Wong Kan Seng, saying that he was “insincere” as he should have announced his intention to step down from the Cabinet during the election. Mr. Chiam was defeated by Mr. Wong in GE 2011. Others have accused the People’s Action Party (PAP) of not being transparent.
These are accusations that will be hard for the PAP to argue against. Now, PM Lee is probably trying to save the face of the ministers by saying that they jumped instead of being pushed, but this line is just giving unnecessary ammunition to the opposition. For the PAP, this could become a matter of heads you win, tails I lose.
Why not tell it as it is? The Singapore government has heard the will of the people and is trying to have a clean break from the past. That’s why the 3 ministers are stepping down. If the PM says that, the opposition has nothing to attack the PAP with and Singaporeans will know that the government is listening to them.
Not only is this the truth, it is also a win, win for the PAP. Much better than the current lose, lose.