SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will nominate Mr Tan Chuan-Jin as the new Speaker of Parliament when the House convenes next Monday, announced the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in a statement on Tuesday (Sep 5).
Mr Tan, who is currently Minister for Social and Family Development, will have to be elected by Members of Parliament (MPs). He succeeds Mdm Halimah Yacob who resigned last month to contest the Presidential Election.
"PM Lee has briefed PAP MPs on his nomination and received their full support," said the PMO.
It added that Mr Tan will resign as the Minister for Social and Family Development, as the Speaker cannot be an office holder.
Taking over Mr Tan's portfolio at the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will be Mr Desmond Lee. He will continue as Second Minister in the Ministry of National Development, but will relinquish his appointments in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office.
The PMO also announced that Mrs Josephine Teo will be appointed as Second Minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs - taking over from Mr Lee - and will relinquish her appointment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
She will continue as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister in the Ministry of Manpower.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, PM Lee said it was not easy to find a suitable replacement for Mdm Halimah.
"While Chuan-Jin stood out as the best choice, it was a very difficult decision to nominate him, as it meant losing an effective and activist minister at MSF," he wrote.
PM Lee noted that Mr Tan, having held positions at MSF, the Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of National Development, "has built up good links with a diverse range of NGOs, VWOs and interest groups."
As Speaker, he will have to preside over Parliamentary debates and ensure fair and full discussion of national issues. "Chuan-Jin has the temperament and personality for this role," PM Lee added.
"Chuan-Jin remains an important member of my team, though in a different role. I have asked him to maintain his interest in environmental and social issues, and his concern for the needy and disadvantaged."
Mr Tan will continue to lead Marine Parade GRC as one of its five MPs. He also remains President of the Singapore National Olympic Council, which is not a Government appointment.
On his part, Mr Tan said he is "glad" to accept PM Lee's nomination and hopes to get the support of Members of Parliament.
"I would like to thank PM and my Cabinet colleagues for their trust and support these past six years, and I look forward to working with them and with all Parliamentary colleagues in my new capacity in the days ahead," he wrote on Facebook.
"Good ideas can come from both sides of the House, as does good intent. In fact they abound throughout the length and breadth of our society. Our duty must be to harness these for the common good – so as to put them to the service of fellow Singaporeans, and to build a better society. I look forward to doing this as effectively as I can."
When asked about suggestions that he is no longer seen as one of Singapore's fourth-generation core leaders, Mr Tan said: "There are many different roles and many different pathways that we need to take. I would say that we are all in the same direction, we are all running in the same race."
"The end outcome that we are all working towards is how to make things better for Singaporeans and how to make things better for Singapore," Mr Tan told reporters on the sidelines of a Hungry Ghost Festival event.
At the same event, Mdm Halimah told reporters that Mr Tan is "a very good choice" to succeed her as Speaker.
"I've known him for six years, and I know that he is very committed very passionate about the issues that are of concern to him – social issues, disadvantaged families, issues affecting the environment, issues concerning sports. He has done very well in those areas," she said.
"I think that he will perform the duties of Speaker very well, if elected by Parliament. He will bring great professionalism and confidence to the duties that he performs."