Singapore’s Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing on Friday joined the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), in a move widely seen as his imminent takeover as labour chief later this year, when Lim Swee Say steps down.
He will be co-opted into its central committee on 27 January, and will be appointed the role of Deputy Secretary-General, according to local media.
The news of Chan joining the NTUC was posted on its website alongside correspondence between the 17-member committee and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The committee had written to PM Lee in a letter dated Friday to request his release of Chan, one of the youngest ministers of Singapore’s current cabinet. The letter explained that current labour chief Lim Swee Say will not be able to serve another four-year term in office as he will turn 62 in July next year.
“We would therefore like to put in place the succession for the NTUC Secretary-General, preferably a few months ahead of the National Delegates’ Conference (in October), to pave the way for election by Delegates at the said Conference,” the committee wrote. “After careful deliberation, the Committee unanimously agrees that Minister Chan Chun Sing is a suitable Cabinet Minister who can strengthen labour leadership at the NTUC and the link between the labour movement and the Government.”
In a reply dated Friday as well, PM Lee said he would allow Chan to join the NTUC immediately on a part-time basis and full-time from 1 April onwards.
“For now Chun Sing will continue in MSF (and MINDEF, where he is Second Minister). But he will leave gaps when he goes over to NTUC full-time in April. I will announce Cabinet changes to fill the vacancies after the Budget session,” he added in a Facebook post on Friday evening.
In his first comments following the announcement, Chan wrote on his Facebook page that he was “humbled” for the opportunity to serve the labour movement.
“There is much to learn. I look forward to working closely with the tripartite partners to advance our cause to care for all workers,” he said.
He also expressed his appreciation to his ministry staff, whom he worked with for the past four years as acting and then full minister.
“I’ve no doubt that they will continue to strive unwaveringly to improve the lives of all Singaporeans, especially the less privileged ones,” he added.