Holding onto my hat

Holding onto my hat

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Ministries and the Ministers Responsible

MinLaw and MHA are both helmed by the same Cabinet Minister. Would it be better if each Ministry is headed by a different Cabinet Minister so that no Cabinet Minister heads more than one Ministry? Or is this a safeguard which has little or no practical relevance in the context of our One-Party System?

The Singapore Government is run by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and 15 Ministries. Each Ministry is led by either 1 or 2 Cabinet Ministers. There are 20 Cabinet Ministers; 2 more will shortly join the Cabinet to make the number 22.  

Of the 15 Ministries, MOE and MTI are helmed by two Cabinet Ministers. But MinLaw and MHA are both helmed by the same Cabinet Minister.

From 1 May 2017, another Cabinet Minister will become "Second Minister" for MHA. Being designated "Second Minister", I take it to mean she ranks below the "First Minister" and does not co-head MHA.

MinLaw and MHA exist as separate Ministries for good reason. For good governance, accountability and to avoid conflicts of interests, the same individual should not be made to hold concurrent roles, unless we are short of staff.
  • So, is staff shortage the reason for making one Cabinet Minister double up and head two Ministries?
  • Is it wise to converge the responsibilities - and powers - of two Ministries under one individual?
  • Is job of a Minister of Law a full-time position? Can the job of Minister for Home Affairs be adequately performed by a part-timer?   
  • Where a Minister holds more than one ministerial job title, how is he remunerated: per job title as a part-timer, whole-timer, or otherwise?
  • Would it be better if each Ministry is headed by a different Cabinet Minister so that no Cabinet Minister heads more than one Ministry? 
  • Or is this is a safeguard which has little or no practical relevance in the context of our One-Party System?
For the complete picture, here is a list of Ministries and the Ministers Responsible:

(1) MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION (MCI) 
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister; and 2 Senior Ministers of State

(2) MINISTRY OF CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTH (MCCY)
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister; and 1 Senior Minister of State

(3) MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (MinDef)
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister as 1st Minister, 1 Cabinet Minister as 2nd Minister; and 1 Senior Minister of State

(4) MINISTRY OF EDUCATION (MOE)
Ministers responsible: 2 Cabinet Ministers; and 1 Senior Minister of State

(5) MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES (MEWR)
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister; and 1 Senior Minister of State

(6) MINISTRY OF FINANCE
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister as 1st Minister, 1 Cabinet Minister as 2nd Minister; and 1 Senior Minister of State

(7) MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister as 1st Minister, 1 Cabinet Minister as 2nd Minister; and 1 Senior Minister of State and 1 Minister of State

(8) MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister; and 3 Senior Ministers of State

(9) MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS (MHA)
Ministers Responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister as 1st Minister and 1 Cabinet Minister as 2nd Minister 

(10) MINISTRY OF LAW (MINLAW) 
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister; and 1 Senior Minister of State

(11) MINISTRY OF MANPOWER (MOM)
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister as 1st Minister, 1 Cabinet Minister as 2nd Minister; and 1 Senior Minister of State

(12) MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (MND)
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister as 1st Minister, 1 Cabinet Minister as 2nd Minister; and 1 Senior Minister of State

(13) MINISTRY OF SOCIAL AND FAMILIY DEVELOPMENT (MSF)
Minister responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister 

(14) MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY (MTI)
Ministers responsible: 2 Cabinet Ministers; and 2 Senior Ministers of State

(15) MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT (MOT)
Ministers responsible: 1 Cabinet Minister as 1st Minister, 1 Cabinet Minister as 2nd Minister; and 1 Senior Minister of State

Source: http://www.pmo.gov.sg/newsroom/changes-cabinet-and-other-appointments-0#annex_a