Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, 48, has been nominated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as the next Speaker of Parliament.
The announcement by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Tuesday (Sept 5) came nearly a month after the post was vacated by Madam Halimah Yacob, who is contesting in the Presidential Election later this month.
Mr Tan, set to be the third Speaker in less than five years, will need to be elected by Parliament at its next sitting on Sept 11.
The Speaker's post was vacated after Madam Halimah, 63, resigned on Aug 7 to run in the Presidential Election, the first reserved for the Malay community following changes to the Elected Presidency scheme passed by the House last year. Member of Parliament (Punggol East) Charles Chong, one of two Deputy Speakers, has since been filling in as Acting Speaker.
PM Lee, writing in a Facebook post, said it had not been easy to find a suitable replacement, noting: "While Chuan-Jin stood out as the best choice, it was a very difficult decision to nominate him, as it meant losing an effective activist at (the Ministry of Social and Family Development)."
Describing Mr Tan as having "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, in accepting PM Lee's nomination, said: "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."
Mr Desmond Lee, who is is currently Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs, will relinquish his appointments and take over the helm of the Ministry of Social and Family Development. He will also continue as Second Minister in the Ministry of National Development
The Prime Minister's Office also announced the appointment of Ms Josephine Teo as Second Minister in the Ministry of Home Affairs. Ms Teo will relinquish her appointment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and continue as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister in the Ministry of Manpower.
Mr Desmond Lee (left) and Ms Josephine Teo. (Photo: PAP)
Should Mr Tan be elected by the House as Speaker, he will follow in the footsteps of Mr Abdullah Tarmugi, who became Speaker in 2002 after an eight-year stint in the Cabinet.
Seen as part of the core group of fourth generation leaders, Mr Tan, who rose to the rank of Brigadier-General, left the army to join politics in 2011. Two weeks after the 2011 General Election, he was appointed a Minister of State at the Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of National Development. Mr Tan was appointed Acting Manpower Minister in 2012, and became a full Minister in 2014. About a year later, he took on the social and family development portfolio.
Mdm Halimah became the first female Speaker in January 2013. TODAY file photo
Madam Halimah, who also left her roles including as Member of Parliament and member of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), became the ninth Speaker of Parliament in 2013 after Mr Michael Palmer resigned in late 2012 over an extramarital affair.
In her resignation letter last month, Madam Halimah had said she was grateful to have served as Speaker, and will miss the role, her residents in Marsiling-Yew Tee group representation constituency and her constituency work.
Paying tribute to Madam Halimah's contributions as Speaker, PM Lee had said in a letter to her last month that she had presided over parliamentary sittings "with dignity and a sure touch".