Desmond Lee, New Minister For Social And Family Development
Following Tan Chuan-Jin’s surprise job switch from Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) to Speaker of Parliament, questions were raised as to who would replace him. Taking over as Minister for the MSF is no easy feat, who could possibly look to not only fill in such big shoes but excel in the role too?
Enter Desmond Lee.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister in the Ministry of National Development and Jurong GRC Member of Parliament (MP) was announced in the same press release to take over Mr Tan’s portfolio at the MSF.
But other than the fact that he’s running alongside everybody’s favourite politician-who-doesn’t-want-to-be-PM, Tharman Shanmugaratnam and that he bears a striking resemblance to American comedian Jordan Peele, what else do you know about the 41-year-old?
Probably not much else.
Here’s a few facts to get you all informed about the newly-minted Minister.
1. He’s the youngest member of the cabinet
Having entered the cabinet on 1 May 2017 as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office at the tender age of 40, Mr Lee holds the distinction for being the youngest full minister in the current cabinet. A Minister of State for National Development in 2013, the Oxford law graduate was promoted to Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development in 2015 following the general elections.
Before him, the youngest to become full minister was Mr Lawrence Wong. The now 44-year-old was made Minister for Culture, Community and Youth just 3 years ago at the age of 41.
2. His father was a PAP member too
It seems that being a politician runs in the family.
Mr Lee’s father, Lee Yock Suan, was a former member of the PAP just like his son.
The elder Mr Lee first ran for Cheng San SMC in 1980, and entered the Parliament after winning the seat. His first foray into Ministership was in 1983, when he was named Minister of State for National Development and Finance. In 1987, full membership into the Cabinet beckoned, as he was named the Minister for Labour.
He then served as Minister for several other portfolios, including Education, Trade and Industry, and Environment. Mr Lee would eventually step down from the Cabinet in 2004 before retiring in 2006 prior to the 2006 General Elections – only 5 years before his son would enter the fray.
Guess the apply didn’t fall far from the tree.
3. He’s had a pretty impressive career in politics
His list of accomplishments in the local political scene speaks for itself, just take a look at what he’s achieved in just 6 years.
- 2011: Jurong GRC MP
- 2011: Government Parliamentary Committee for Culture, Community and Youth, Home Affairs and Law, and Social and Family Development
- 2013: Minister of State for National Development
- 2015: Senior Minister of State for National Development and Home Affairs
- 2015: Deputy Leader of the House
- 2017: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office
- 2017: Second Minister in the Ministry of National Development and Home Affairs
But wait, you wonder. For someone that accomplished so much in such a short amount of time, what was he doing before he entered politics?
4. He’s had an impressive career in law as well
Prior to standing as a candidate for the PAP at the 2011 General Elections, Mr Lee had already made quite the name for himself in the law industry as well.
Having obtained his Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree at the National University of Singapore in 2001, he would provide direct assistance to a Justice of the Supreme Court of Singapore as a law clerk. Following that, he worked alongside then Attorney-General Chan Sek Keong after being appointed as Deputy Public Prosecutor in the Criminal Justice Division of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
He also served as Deputy Director of the Legal Branch at Singapore’s Ministry of Health from 2005 to 2009 before moving to the Ministry of Law where he worked as Deputy Director of the Legal Policy Division.
Finally in 2011, he would join Temasek Holdings as their Associate Director in the Legal and Regulations Department.
If that’s not impressive enough, he also completed his Masters degree in Civil Law at the University of Oxford in 2005.
5. He will be relinquishing several Ministerial roles
Starting 11 Sept, Mr Lee will no longer be Second Minister for Home Affairs and Minister in the Prime Minister’s office.
This comes as he begins his tenure as Minister for Social and Family Development where he looks to succeed Mr Tan Chuan-Jin and “fill the big shoes” left.
If you’re wondering on the person who will be taking over both his appointments, look no further.
Current Second Minister in the Ministry of Manpower and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Josephine Teo will be relinquishing her appointment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and take over Mr Lee as the Second Minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
6. First new minister in recent history to not be appointed acting minister
Generally, before one becomes a full minister, he is required to perform his duties as an active minister before receiving the promotion.
Just take a look at Mr Ng Chee Meng and Mr Ong Ye Kung, who took on the role of Acting Ministers for the Ministry of Education in 15 Sept 2015. Mr Ong would eventually be promoted to Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), while Mr Ng become Minister for Education (Schools) a year later in October.
However, this did not seem to apply to Mr Lee who was appointed as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and National Development earlier this year. He was also directly named as MSF head without first being an Acting Minister. Perhaps this shows the amount of trust PM Lee has in his abilities.
7. His team achieved the highest percentage of voters in the 2015 General Elections
The 2015 General Elections is most infamous where 70% of Singaporeans voted for the PAP. Just take a look on social media whenever something government-related occurs and you’re sure to see comments like this.
However, a lesser known feat that took place was that Mr Lee’s Jurong GRC won the largest winning percentage of GE2011.
Receiving 95,080 votes, the PAP secured 79.28% of the vote, a 12% increase since the 2011 Elections.
The next closest was the West Coast GRC that obtained 78.57% of the vote.
Surely this is a testament to how much Mr Lee and his team is appreciated by the community in Jurong. In fact, take a look at his Facebook page and you’re sure to find him involving himself in activities pertaining to his constituency.
8. He was affected by a fake Facebook account
Joining fellow Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing, MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling, and several other MPs, Mr Lee fell victim to a spoof account imitating himself.
Looking to obtain personal information by sending spam messages through FB Messenger, scammers create fake accounts bearing names of known public figures targeting the technologically impaired.
Thankfully, he quickly caught wind of the act and prompted his followers to reject any friend requests sent from the account.
It was reported by The Straits Times in March 2017 that a total of at least 13 PAP members were affected by the fake accounts. However, it was not the first time PAP MPs fell victim to them as there were reported cases that happened as early as 2014.
9. He is a nature enthusiast and bird watcher
Take a look at his Instagram page and you’ll immediately realize that the soon-to-be Social and Family Development Minister is an avid nature buff.
With some pretty good shots actually, it’s safe to say he’d make a decent photographer had the whole politics shtick not work out.
He also picked up how to identify birds when speaking to fellow nature enthusiasts.
Check out some of the photos taken of birds he found.
Impressively, he’s also able to properly identify what we Singaporeans call “that yellow bird” and “the other black bird” in a reply to a comment on his photos.
Welcome to the MSF
Starting 11 September, Mr Lee will be the new Minister for Social and Family Development.
Only time will tell if he’s able to excel in the role but if his past records are anything to go by, they’re in good hands
We here at MustShareNews congratulate him and the fellow Ministers for their promotions.
Featured image from Facebook