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11 Feb 2019
Prime Minister Office
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Two ministers in one ministry, one minister in two ministries

Singapore has a strange system. PM Lee appoints two minister so run one ministry and one minister to run two ministries.

For example, Josephine Teo is minister for manpower and second minister of home affairs. Lawrence Wong is minister for national development and second minister for finance.

Why is there a need to have this system?

Here are some reasons why this is a bad system.

It is already quite a challenge for a minister to run one ministry. Why make the minister run two ministries?

Why have two ministers in one ministry? If it is to provide backup in case the first minister is not available, surely the backup could be done by a deputy minister or by the permanent secretary?

One obvious disadvantage of this "two ministers" system is the question of accountability. If there is a major crisis, who takes charge? What happens if the two ministries do not agree on the solution?

In recent years, there has been several major issues that need to be solved - high cost of health care, withdrawal of CPF savings, depleting value of HDB flats, breakdown of MRT trains, death of NS men and reservists during training, cyber attacks. These issues need to be addressed. They do not seem to get the attention that is needed. There do not seem to be any solution in sight. 

The current arrangement of two ministers in one ministry and one minister in two ministries do not seem to be productive.

Tan Kin Lian

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