by Roy Ngerng
Do you know S Iswaran was Vice-President and Managing Director at Temasek Holdings from 1998 to 2006 even as a member of parliament? After 2006, he became appointed the Minister of State and then Minister for Trade and Industry and now, the Minister-in-charge of trade relations.
This 2020 election, a corporate advisor from Temasek Holdings Tan See Leng was also brought into parliament on the back of a GRC. And right after that, he was made a Second Minister in Trade and Industry.
Sun Xueling was also a director at Temasek Holdings.
Why are people transiting from Temasek Holdings into Singapore’s parliament, and then straight into the ministerial roles of trade and industry?
In fact, why are Singapore’s officeholders pooled from such a limited selection of individuals (as the chart in this post shows)?
We’ve already seen how military officers are parachuted to become ministers or ministers of state in education, manpower, environment and the industry when they clearly have zero relevant experience.
Why are there four principal private secretaries of the prime ministers holding ministerial roles and all previously earmarked for prime ministership? Are we choosing prime ministers to lead the country or assistants willing to do the bidding of the current prime minister?
Also, why are there so many people related to the Lees in varying capacities also made office holders? (in the chart)
Why has Singapore’s Cabinet become confined to such a close circle?
Singaporeans do not get to choose the prime minister. Even though most Singaporeans favour Tharman, the People’s Action Party (PAP) has still chosen among the former principal private secretaries and military officers to be the next prime minister, when Tharman is clearly the most capable among the whole jin gang – but he is obviously not part of the circle.
It is certainly quite unhealthy that the people making decisions for Singapore are beholden to just a small clique of people, no?
Should the close ties between Temasek Holdings and the cabinet make one uncomfortable? Yet, why does Temasek continue to operate without full transparency?
What good does putting military officers or principal private secretaries, or even people from Temasek Holdings into the Cabinet, do for Singapore?
So, more trade agreements can be signed with other countries. Temasek gets richer. But have Singaporeans’ wages gotten higher?
The people listed in this chart are given ministerial roles in not only trade and industry but also in finance, manpower and national development. These ministries manage the reserves, CPF and HDB of Singaporeans (of which the CPF is used to fund HDB and land sold as part of HDB is also transferred into the reserves).
When there is no full transparency in the decision-making in Singapore, the conflicts of interest that arise therefore become even more worrying.
But as long as the PAP is government, Singaporeans are not going to get answers on these issues, because the PAP controls the information that comes out. In fact, S Iswaran is now also made Minister of Communications and Information, and even though the trade and industry portfolio has been given to someone else, he is still in-charge of trade relations. Why?
All these musical chair rotations of Singapore’s ministerial positions are given without any justification or explanation to Singaporeans. Surely it is worrying, no?
Why are people transferred around and around in these top political positions which Singaporeans have to pay for?
And yet, does it seem like they are acting in the interests of Singaporeans, this close circle of people?
Many of these people in the chart are what PAP refers to as 4G politicians, but they have messed up the COVID-19 management.
And yet, they have retained their positions and remain ministers.
Lee Hsien Loong calls this the strongest cabinet he can put together. I see this as the weakest cabinet in Singapore’s history. Can you honestly tell me any of them can hold a candle to Toh Chin Chye?
Under this current PAP, I think Singapore has ventured into dangerous territory. We know the current ministers cannot do their jobs, we have seen how they have performed.
And yet, the ministerial positions remain in the hands of a close circle, and we still do not understand how they are being rotated around in their positions since it is very clear most of them are not put into their positions based on relevant experience or expertise.
Does it make you wonder – are they serving Singaporeans or serving themselves?
Why then are we paying tens of millions of dollars to them every year?
Do you also wonder, how much of our money have they taken to become millionaires or billionaires?
When they are clearly not the right people for the job?
Meanwhile, cleaners in Singapore earn only S$5 an hour.
Something is very wrong here.