We have no idea what went through the mind of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as he came up with the recent cabinet reshuffle.
Maybe there is a method to it. Maybe there is more to it than meets the eye.
In Chan Chun Sing, we have a new Education Minister who once thought that cotton comes from sheep.
In making his choice of Education Minister, PM Lee must have cottoned on to something special.
PM Lee might also have good reason to make Gan Kim Yong the new Minister for Trade and Industry. An electrical engineer, Gan is apparently the one who coined the term “circuit breaker.” That remains a head scratcher – till now, people wonder what a circuit breaker has got to do with a lockdown.
Anyway, how apt that for his new portfolio, Minister Gan will have the opportunity to get circuit breaker manufacturers to expand or set up shop in Singapore.
The one who has taken over from Minister Gan as Health Minister is Ong Ye Kung. In accounting for the Changi Airport COVID-19 cluster, the former Transport Minister said that despite the best efforts of Changi Airport workers, a “very virulent” variant “broke through” the layers of defence at the airport.
As Health Minister, he could also say that the crafty virus broke through the defences of Tan Tock Seng Hospital – despite the best efforts of healthcare workers!
Minister Ong should do just fine. His excuse can be applied for any scenario – the virus is to blame, not the system, certainly not the policy makers.
The new Finance Minister is Lawrence Wong. He is best remembered for this excuse for the explosion of COVID-19 cases at migrant worker dormitories: “Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of the benefit of hindsight.”
May we remind him that as Finance Minister, he will similarly not be endowed with the benefit of hindsight in tackling real-time issues and problems. The stakes are high, so we the citizens had better pray that he is blessed with foresight.
Maybe Pritam Singh of the Workers’ Party or Leong Mun Wai of the Progress Singapore Party can succeed where they failed with Heng Swee Keat – get Lawrence Wong to reveal the size of the country’s reserves. But we shouldn’t bet on it –- one thing they are all very good at is keeping secrets from the citizens.
It’s also no secret that our Ministers are the highest paid in the world. World-class performance is out of the question, but the least we could expect from them is to take ownership of problems and mistakes – not excel at giving world-class excuses.