The Leaderboard: Ng Chee Meng


Who is he?

Ng Chee Meng is Singapore’s acting minister for education (schools) and senior minister of state at the Ministry of Transport. Prior to taking over these two portfolios on October 1, 2015, which marked his entry into politics, Ng served for almost three decades in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). From March 2013 to August 2015, he was chief of defense force of the SAF and before that, chief of Singapore’s Air Force from 2009 to 2013. Ng joined the SAF as a fighter pilot in December 1986 and went on to hold numerous positions including commander of Changi Air Base and director of Joint Operations. He has a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng of Singapore (right), with U.S. Army General Martin E. Dempsey at the Pentagon in 2014. Source: Wikimedia, used under a creative commons license.

Lieutenant-General Ng Chee Meng of Singapore (right), with U.S. Army General Martin E. Dempsey at the Pentagon in 2014. Source: Wikimedia, used under a creative commons license.

Why is he in the news?

Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has been cultivating a new crop of leaders as its third generation, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, approaches retirement. A brief health scare during Lee’s National Day speech on August 21 renewed concerns over who will succeed the prime minister in a nation that prides itself on decades of political stability. Ng is one of several stand-out PAP legislators that observers are eyeing as a possible future prime minister.

What can we expect from him?

Despite having only entered politics in October 2015, Ng has brought a wealth of leadership experience to the PAP after an extensive career in the military. His appointment by Prime Minister Lee to the education and transport ministries can be viewed as an effort to round out his military experience, evaluate his political performance, and deepen his exposure to government operations. Ng strongly believes in serving others and giving back to society, which he acknowledged in announcing his entry into politics. He confirmed that he would speak his mind, adopt a consultative approach, and ultimately “do what is right.”

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