Ong Ye Kung has been named as Singapore’s new minister of transport after the city state unveiled its new cabinet over the weekend.
He takes over from Khaw Boon Wan who announced that he would be retiring from politics in early June 2020 ahead of Singapore’s general election.
Announcing Ong’s appointment, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said for sea and air, the critical task is to preserve Singapore’s status as a global hub, especially in the post-Covid-19 world.
“The ministry of transport will also be engaged with Malaysia and Indonesia on major bilateral projects…and also sensitive air space and maritime issues. So we need a very good minister at the helm, with cabinet experience and political nous,” he said.
Amy Khor and Chee Hong Tat have been named as senior ministers of state at the Ministry of Transport.
Former senior minister of state for transport, Lam Pin Min, lost his seat in parliament in one of the largest upsets of the Singapore general election.
We have an immediate and critical task - to rebuild and secure Singapore's status as a maritime hub
Ong Ye Kung
In a posting on its Facebook page, the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) said it had “been a privilege” working with Lam from "charting the industry’s future…to strengthening ties and collaborations with global maritime players" and reaching out to the local community.
“You have also guided and encouraged #MaritimeSG team during this challenging Covid-19 period, and even shown much care and concern for the welfare of the crew out at sea through crew changes, care packs and more. We will miss having you at the helm of our ship,” the MPA added.
Ong, who said he is a fan of music groups such as Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Queen, joins the ministry of transport from the department of education where he spent five years as education minister.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is having a profound effect on how we travel. It has disrupted trade, and devastated the aviation industry,” Ong said in a posting on his Facebook page.
“We have an immediate and critical task — to rebuild and secure Singapore's status as a maritime and aviation hub.”
Transport is a major political office within Singapore given the importance to the country from industries such as shipping and aviation.
The two sectors between them employ over 300,000 people and contributed a combined 13% of Singapore’s GDP.
Earlier this month, Singapore retained its position as the “world's most important shipping hub” on the Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Development Index.