Last Friday’s major Cabinet reshuffle will see changes affecting the helm of seven of the 15 government ministries. Yet inevitably, attention focused on a group of fourth-generation leaders: Mr Lawrence Wong, who takes over as Finance Minister from Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat; Mr Chan Chun Sing, who replaces Mr Wong as Education Minister; and Mr Ong Ye Kung, who will lead the Health Ministry. An extensive reshuffle this early in the term of government is unusual. But so are the circumstances under which it was made. Mr Heng was due to relinquish the Finance portfolio after Budget 2021. This had consequential repercussions for other ministries including those in the front line dealing with Covid-19.
Mr Heng’s announcement that he is stepping aside as leader of the 4G team has, not unexpectedly, stoked interest as to his successor. Hence the speculation about whether the Finance post hands Mr Wong the advantage; and talk that the different but higher public profile role in Education means Mr Chan is still in the running. Similar musings surround Mr Ong helming Health amid a new phase of the pandemic and his co-chairing of the Covid-19 ministerial task force with Mr Wong.