We’ve seen the same faces during Singapore’s COVID-19 conferences over and over again. Most of the time we just sit back and eagerly listen to find out how much money we’re receiving or when this madness is coming to an end.
Other times we overreact and enjoy a good laugh just because one of the panellists coughed on national television at one of the worst possible times. We watch, and we listen intensely, but for most of us, we don’t know who these people are.
These 4th Generation leaders were put up to the test to challenge their abilities in handling a national crisis. Though they’re all working towards the common cause of ensuring the best for Singapore, like a classroom of over-achievers, not every member has done as good a job as the other.
So, as the acting teacher of these students with something to prove, I’m going to grade their performance to date. Who passes? Who fails? Who is a borderline average student with an inflated sense of achievement and who, though quiet and docile, deserves every high mark they get? Let’s dive right in.
“I am sorry that one of our former staff who was authorised to have access to confidential information in our HIV registry appears to not have complied with our security guidelines.”
– Jan 2019, Mr Gan apologising after ex-Ministry of Health staff, Ler Teck Siang had mishandled the information and 12,400 HIV results were leaked
Mr Gan was a former student of Catholic High and National Junior College. He continued his education at the University of Cambridge on an Overseas Merit Scholarship. There, he completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. His education background alone screams stellar and success through the divine and established institutions he attended throughout his life.
His career began at the Singapore Civil Service at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, he left his post to become the President and CEO of NatSteel proving his capabilities as a leader on the high-end.
The beginning of his political journey was at the Holland-Bukit Panjang Group Representation Constituency election in 2001. He was a Member of Parliament for several years from 2001 to 2009 before he became the Minister of Manpower from 2009 to 2011. Currently, he is a Member of Parliament for Chua Chu Kang GRC and has been the Minister for Health since 2011.
Mr Gan Kim Yong is one of the co-chairs of the multi-ministry task force. He’s essential in providing updates and releasing information regarding the COVID-19 situation. He works very closely with Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister of National Development, to decide what’s best for our country in these troubling times.
Pre COVID-19: D
Current Grade: A
Kim Yong takes complete responsibility for his actions and displays an undying desire to succeed. His high moral sense of justice will serve him in good stead as a civil servant in the many years to come. He’s excelled in his leadership position and has proven to be an exemplary role model to all those around him.
His ability to look at the situation from a wider perspective has helped immensely in ensuring that the management of the coronavirus runs smoothly. With continued passion and perseverance, there’s no doubt that his capabilities will continue to shine as he reaches greater heights. Keep up the good work!
“*tears* words are not sufficient to express our appreciation for so many Singaporeans going all out to fight the virus.”
– Mar 2020, Mr Lawrence Wong gets emotional while thanking frontliners.
Mr Lawrence Wong was a former student of Tanjong Katong Secondary School and Victoria Junior College. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the United States where he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics.
Subsequently, he obtained a Master of Arts degree in Economics at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. It was as if he was preparing to be a minister from the get-go.
His foray into the world of civil service started at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Mr Wong was first elected to Parliament at the 2011 general election representing West Coast Group Representation Constituency.
Since then he’s gained extensive experience in parliament from serving as the Minister of Culture, Community and Youth from 2012 to 2015 to now being the Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance.
He co-chairs the multi-ministry task force along with Mr Gan Kim Yong and is one of the key players when it comes to calling the shots in regards to the COVID-19 situation. He looks at the issues affecting the community and the economy as well as cross-border measures.
Pre COVID-19: Lawrence who? (needs to speak up more in class)
Lawrence is an empathetic individual that has won the hearts of many with his kind soul. Co-chairing the ministerial task force has enabled him to come out of his shell and display his true potential that not many were aware. Though he wasn’t quite noticeable before COVID-19, Lawrence has made his mark in Singapore as the minister who truly cares.
He needs to continue to speak up so that people remember who he is in the long run and acknowledge his capabilities. I am certain that with consistent effort and confidence, he will perform great in his future endeavours, take on larger responsibilities, and gain more relevance in Singapore. Embraces emotions without shame. Good on you!
“You don’t need much space to have sex.”
– Oct 2016, Josephine Teo in response to a question on whether young people are not getting their flats early enough to have children.
Despite her many comments in the past which make me question her intelligence, Josephine Teo, similar to every other minister has an extensive educational background. She was a former student of Dunman High School and Raffles Junior college. She then pursued her education locally in the National University of Singapore where she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours).
Afterwards, she obtained a postgraduate scholarship under the EDB-Glaxo Scholarship Programme and completed a Master of Science (Economics) degree at the London School of Economics. I Guess the basic ingredients for a minister in Singapore are scholarships and overseas education.
Mrs Teo started her career in enterprise development at Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB). She entered Parliament at the 2006 general election as an MP for the Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency (GRC). Almost a decade later, she was appointed minister in the Prime Minister’s Office from 2017 to 2018 and is the active Minister for Manpower since 2018.
Her time in parliament has been swarmed with so much controversy that Wikipedia has a whole segment for it under her name.
In this COVID-19 period, her role is essential due to the massive hit taken on the job sector in Singapore. It’s her responsibility to address the key issues in Manpower such as assistance for employers, support for lower-wage workers and most importantly, the hot topic of migrant workers.
Pre Covid-19: E, bordering on an F
Current Grade: C
Josephine is resilient and pushes through the setbacks that she constantly encounters due to her careless tongue. Though she’s faced severe criticism for how she’s handled situations, she’s shown improvement in her abilities to tackle the adversities that come her way and attempts to calmly overcome them. She does, however, have to start taking more initiative and responsibility for her actions.
Josephine must pursue a continued effort in understanding what it means to truly care for the community and drop her pride every once in a while. Once this happens, she’ll be able to gain more respect as a civil servant and better showcase her abilities in leading. Needs more work in the empathy department. Please see the school counsellor at your soonest possible.
“It is not an issue of fudging or dodging or trying to hide numbers. It is really a question of making sure that our priority in testing matches the needs on the ground and making sure that we report as transparently as we can.”
– Apr 2020, Kenneth Mak speaks on being as transparent as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although not part of the ministerial taskforce, his role is extremely crucial. Professor Mak is a newbie in this world having only taken up this position on 1 February 2020. Before this, he was the chairman of the medical board at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and was leading the medical effort from there.
Professor Kenneth has the full authority of the Infectious Diseases Act, allowing him to quarantine people or obtain personal data that’ll help in controlling the outbreak. He’s the man above that all the other doctors in Singapore report to.
In turn, he advises the country’s political leaders on the situation and steps that need to be taken to keep everyone here safe. It’d be no surprise if he ends up entering politics in the long run given his role and power in the task force.
Pre COVID-19: Transfer student, allegedly a solid B
Current Grade: A
Kenneth has assimilated well into the new environment. He’s displayed initiative in better understanding the situation around him so that he can best help the nation in curbing the spread of COVID-19. His ability to work under pressure is extremely impressive and reflects well on him as a leader.
Though viruses weren’t his area of expertise, the confidence he shows and effort he puts in makes his shortcomings unnoticeable. I strongly believe that though he’s not a part of the ministerial taskforce, he has contributed greatly in helping to keep Singaporeans safe in this time. It would come as no surprise if he continues to rise in the ranks of civil service and takes over the leaders we have now. He does, however, need to learn not to cough on public TV, or at least, take a sip, please.
Overall, despite the hiccups that occurred, I’d confidently say that the government has done an excellent job in ensuring the health and safety of the locals here. The circuit breaker is effective in slowing down the spread of the virus here in Singapore.
The failure, however, to do the same for our foreign migrant workers is extremely unfortunate. Nonetheless, I believe that as a nation, we will continue to progress together as we show love to our foreign friends and our leaders will continue to do whatever it takes for not just the good of its people, but for everyone here.
We’re not perfect, it wouldn’t be fair to expect perfectionism from our government, we’re all human after all.
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