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Breaking News: PM reshuffles Cabinet

From The Straits Times:

By Jeremy Au Yong

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong reshuffled his Cabinet on Saturday, as part of a process to groom the next generation of leaders for Singapore.

The most eye-catching in the slew of changes announced by PM Lee was the appointment of Mr K. Shanmugam as Law Minister and Second Minister for Home Affairs from May 1.

The last person to move directly from the backbench to full-fledged minister was Mr Richard Hu, who became Minister for Trade and Industry in 1985 after a few months as MP.

Mr Shanmugam, 49, an MP since 1988 and currently a senior partner in Allen and Gledhill, will take over the Law Ministry from Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar. The DPM will continue as the Coordinating Minister for National Security.

Mr Wong Kan Seng remains Home Affairs Minister.

In PM Lee's new-look Cabinet, three ministries were given new bosses, five Ministers of State were promoted to Senior Ministers of State, and one Parliamentary Secretary was moved up one level.

Although two women Ministers of State, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua and Ms Grace Fu, were promoted to Senior Ministers of State, Singapore will still have to wait for its first woman minister.

The Cabinet retains a familiar look with few major changes.

Apart from the Law Ministry which will now be helmed by Mr Shanmugam, the other two ministries with new chiefs are Education and Manpower.

Mr Gan Kim Yong, formerly Minister of State (Education and Manpower), was promoted to Acting Minister for Manpower.

Mr Gan replaces Dr Ng Eng Hen, who takes over the Education portfolio.

The Education Ministry (MOE) position was vacated by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam who took over from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as Finance Minister in December.

The rest of the Ministers retained their posts, although Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Vivian Balakrishnan relinquishes his position as Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica).

Among the Ministers of State, Mr Gan Kim Yong, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Mr S. Iswaran, Ms Grace Fu and Rear-Admiral (NS) Lui Tuck Yew were all promoted up one level.

Ms Fu and RAdm Lui received additional portfolios. Ms Fu adds the Education Ministry to her current role in the National Development Ministry, while RAdm Lui adds Mica to his appointment in MOE.

Minister of State Heng Chee How relinquishes his role in the health ministry and moves to the Prime Minister's Office, where he will assist Mr Lim Boon Heng, the minister in charge of ageing issues and the re-employment of older workers.

Only one Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Teo Ser Luck, was promoted to Senior Parliamentary Secretary. He takes on a role in the Transport Ministry alongside his current position in MCYS.

All the changes take effect from April 1, apart from those affecting Mr Shanmugam and Prof S Jayakumar.

Commenting on the Cabinet changes, RAdm Lui said: 'On the whole, I thought the reshuffle was well done. There is change amid continuity.'

'Personally I'm glad that I'm going to continue working in the MOE because there is some unfinished business, namely the fourth university and the arts college.'

'At the same time, I have the opportunity to do something new, something exciting. Mica is an area that's completely new to me. I look forward to going there, listening, learning, and then contributing.'

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