Why Josephine Teo Is A Great Candidate To Helm The Manpower Ministry

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Mrs Josephine Teo caused a flurry on Tuesday (17 Apr) when she said this at a labour event:

When it comes to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), I have a much longer engagement because I did spend quite a number of years in the labour movement.

Her comment set tongues wagging that she might take over Mr Lim Swee Say as the new Manpower Minister.

After all, with a major Cabinet reshuffle looming, Mrs Teo knows better than to speak with a loose tongue.

Since the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP low-key admitted it, there’s little doubt that she will indeed helm the ministry before Parliament reopens next month.

In anticipation of PM Lee’s reshuffle, we use GIFs to illustrate why Mrs Teo is probably the best candidate for Manpower Minister among the current crop of “4G Leaders“.

1. She already knows that 1/3 + 2/3 has to be more than 1

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Our fast-ageing population and shrinking citizen labour force mean that manpower issues need to be addressed urgently for Singapore’s economy to remain relevant.

These challenges are already on the horizon and Mrs Teo’s experience makes her uniquely positioned to understand and deal with both of them.

At PMO, she oversees the National Population and Talent Division, which looks at demographic issues.

And Mrs Teo has also been the Second Manpower Minister since the last Cabinet reshuffle in 2017.

But her history with the labour movement goes back to 2007, when she was appointed NTUC’s assistant secretary-general. She held this post for 4 years.

As everybody’s favourite political junkie Associate Professor Eugene Tan pointed out, Mrs Teo is ready to hit the ground running. And we can’t help but think so as well.

2. She gets that #thestruggleisreal

Knowing the issues is one thing but understanding and articulating ground sentiment is a whole other ballgame.

Like many local politicians, Mrs Teo has had her fair share of unfortunate Freudian slips.

But on Tuesday, she took a leaf out of NMP Kuik Shiao-Yin‘s book on Sensible Speeches when she artfully described how Singaporeans felt about employment opportunities here:

Will we get better jobs? Will we be able to earn higher incomes? Will we find a workforce that is more inclusive? And will we find workplaces that are more progressive? Will we have security in retirement? Those are the areas that people are very interested in.

It may just be the work of a more refined communications team but hey, who picked that team?

 Jo Teo did, Jo Teo did!
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3. She can balance things

Like many of her Cabinet peers, Mrs Teo is an expert juggler.

When she was first appointed Senior Minister of State for Finance, she also assumed the same responsibility in the Transport Ministry.

And when a reshuffle saw her move to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she took on the Manpower portfolio.

As Prof Tan pointed out, the future Manpower Minister faces “a technically demanding assignment requiring different skill sets and expertise”.

We wouldn’t be surprised if Mrs Teo finds it a piece of cake, just like this:

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4. She’s better at Manpower than Social and Family Development

Remember the fiasco over small spaces?

In 2016, Mrs Teo caused an online furore when she said,

You need a very small space to have sex.

Judging by reactions to that comment, it’s probably best that Mrs Teo stay away from discussing “family development” for a while.

Small space, that’s all you need!
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5. She’ll be moving things in the right direction

If Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong does appoint Mrs Teo as Manpower Minister, she will be only the second female full minister in Singapore’s history to have helmed a ministry.

That in itself would be a major milestone for the 49-year-old, who has spoken out on numerous occasions for greater female participation in the workforce.

We’re hoping that it sets the stage for more female participation in local politics, paving the way for an eventual female Prime Minister.

That’s a day we can’t wait for.

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Featured image from Facebook.