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Singapore cabinet reshuffle: continuity in focus, veteran Gan Kim Yong to be Lawrence Wong’s deputy

Wong will retain his position as finance minister even after taking over, while Gan Kim Yong, who co-chaired the republic’s multi-ministry Covid task force, will become deputy prime minister, alongside Heng Swee Keat.

Wong said on Monday there were minimal shifts in this cabinet reshuffle to “avoid any disruptions”.

“All the ministers already have a full plate of work to see through and some have also rolled out new programmes in their ministries, so to avoid any disruptions, I have decided to keep them in their present roles until the end of the term and that means I will retain my portfolio in finance even after becoming prime minister,” he told a press briefing.

“After the pandemic, we carried out a process to choose my successor. On 14 April 2022, the PAP Members of Parliament met and unanimously endorsed Mr Lawrence Wong as the person to succeed me. Now, two years on, he is ready to lead Singapore,” he wrote.

Analysts who spoke to This Week in Asia said the line-up suggested Lee would continue to play a big role within the party as senior minister even after his resignation as prime minister, in line with the tradition of former prime ministers serving a few terms as elder statesmen and offering advice to the younger team.

The reshuffle comes just two days ahead of Singapore’s third leadership transition since independence in 1965, after an unusually winding road to the succession.

Wong, 51, will be sworn in on Wednesday, taking over from Lee, the elder son of founding father Lee Kuan Yew. Observers note that Wong’s policy rhetoric has centred on maintaining the principles of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).

Gan Kim Yong was the minister for health and one of the co-chairs of the country’s multi-ministry task force