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Give 4G leadership time to evolve, and 'not hasten things artificially': Iswaran

PARIS — The fourth generation leadership should be allowed to "evolve naturally", said Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran on Thursday (May 24), as he stressed the need to be "careful in not wanting to hasten things artificially".

Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran.

Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran.

PARIS — The fourth generation leadership should be allowed to "evolve naturally", said Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran on Thursday (May 24), as he stressed the need to be "careful in not wanting to hasten things artificially".

It is important for the 4G ministers to take on larger roles and responsibilities, as well as work together, particularly at a time when Singapore is in a more complex environment, said Mr Iswaran.

"Of course, there is a sense of timeliness but we want to allow it to have natural course as well," he added.

He was speaking to the Singapore media on the sidelines of his four-day visit to Paris as part of the France-Singapore Year of Innovation 2018.

The days where one can "easily categorise and say this is a particular type of issue for a particular ministry" are fast disappearing, Mr Iswaran noted in response to journalists' question on the political succession.

Cabinet ministers will have to do cross-ministry work more often.

He cited how Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's work on the Future Economy Council has implications across several ministries, and many of the ministers are involved in different ways.

"This is where (there are) opportunities for more interactions, more joint assessments, and learning to sort of rely on each other's judgment in order to form a holistic assessment. This is going to be an important part of that evolution," Mr Iswaran said.

Stressing the need for the 4G leadership to work as a team, he added: "It's not so much about you do this and I do that… Because the nature of work is such, it's not so compartmentalised, and you have to have a close working arrangement where we can seamlessly support each other."

Mr Iswaran also spoke about his new roles following a major Cabinet reshuffle last month.

Since the start of this month, Mr Iswaran is the Minister for Communications and Information, as well as Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

He was previously the Trade and Industry (Industry) Minister.

Asked about his current work at MTI, Mr Iswaran said he will focus on specific areas, such as work on the free trade agreements with India and Europe.

Both Mr Iswaran and former Trade and Industry (Trade) minister Lim Hng Kiang, who is currently a Special Advisor to MTI, will work with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

Mr Iswaran noted that his communications and information portfolio would complement his work at MTI in terms of the digital economy space.

Apart from that, part of his work at the Ministry of Communications and Information also involves government communications, including how they engage with citizens and effectively convey government policies such that Singaporeans know and understand the reasons behind various policies, he added.

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