Desmond Lee: Youngest minister in current Cabinet to helm his first ministry

Desmond Lee: Youngest minister in current Cabinet to helm his first ministry

SINGAPORE: Four months ago, Mr Desmond Lee became the youngest minister in the current Cabinet. 

Come next Monday (Sep 11), he will helm his first ministry at the age of 41, making him one of the youngest Cabinet ministers in Singapore to do so.

Mr Lee will take over Mr Tan Chuan-Jin's portfolio at the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), in view of Mr Tan's nomination as Singapore's next Speaker of Parliament.

Mr Tan will resign as Minister for Social and Family Development, as the Speaker cannot hold political office.

Commenting on his new appointment, Mr Lee said he looked forward to his new role, remarking that he had "very big shoes to fill".

Mr Lee, who is currently a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, is also Second Minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development.

He will relinquish his appointments in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office, but continue as Second Minister in the Ministry of National Development.


The son of former Cabinet minister, Mr Lee Yock Suan, the younger Mr Lee is seen as part of Singapore's fourth generation of leaders.

He was first elected in the May 2011 general election, as a Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC.

As a back-bencher, Mr Lee served as a member of the Government Parliamentary Committees for Social and Family Development, as well as Culture, Community and Youth, and Home Affairs and Law.

His first political appointment came in September 2013, as Minister of State for National Development. After his re-election in September 2015, Mr Lee was appointed as Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development.

In April 2017, Mr Lee was promoted to full minister, along with Mrs Josephine Teo who, in the latest round of changes, will take over Mr Lee's portfolio as Second Minister for Home Affairs.

At the time of their appointment, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the ministers "have shown that they are capable of more responsibilities". "They have done good work and I expect them to do even more,” he said.

PM Lee also hinted at a "much bigger change next year" that would involve new ministers helming their own ministries, amid a push for leadership renewal.


A lawyer by training, Mr Lee began his career in the civil service as a Justices’ Law Clerk of the Supreme Court, providing legal research support.

He then served as a deputy public prosecutor and state counsel in the Criminal Justice Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers.

In 2005, Mr Lee was posted to the Ministry of Health to head its legal department.

Before entering politics, Mr Lee also worked at the Legal Policy Division of the Ministry of Law, and at Temasek as in-house counsel.

Since his appointment to office at the Ministry of National Development, Mr Lee has helmed significant legislative changes. He fronted a Bill that granted the Government more regulatory powers over town councils, following a vigorous debate in Parliament.

Mr Lee also made the case for changes to the law to better protect Sisters' Islands Marine Park. 


Mr Lee also serves as a member of the board at the National Youth Council and chairs the Advisory Committee of Youth Corps Singapore.