A happy man……
SINGAPORE: The promotion from Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs to full Minister is a testament to how Singapore is run on the basis of meritocracy, Mr Masagos Zulkifli said on Wednesday (Apr 8).
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the promotion, along with changes to the portfolios of four other Ministers, earlier on Wednesday.
In an interview with MediaCorp’s Berita, Mr Masagos said: “It would seem apparent that the Malay community would celebrate having two full Ministers in the Cabinet for the first time, but I think this is also how Singapore runs on the basis of meritocracy.
“That you get the post, and are rewarded for your performance and contributions because of the impact you have made. Not because you are close to a particular person or that you are the son of somebody,” he added.
“I think this is important because it gives you the credibility to the people you serve as well as your colleagues. And I’m glad that this is the system that we have.”
ON BEING SECOND MALAY CABINET MINISTER
“After 50 years, perhaps it’s a long time before we have more Malay Ministers in the Cabinet. But it has been a good 50 years and, in the process, we all learn how to contribute and make a significant impact. Whether you are Malay or Indian, but more important, for Singapore.
“More importantly, we carry out our duties with integrity to make sure we discharge our responsibilities fully for the sake of Singapore and Singaporeans. I think that should be the focus of what we do, whether or not there are two, three or more ministers in the future. That must be something we earn, and not something we get as a matter of right.
“It is good to see more and more Malays doing very well in education, doing very well in all fields of their professions and even in Government, and I’m very happy for that. But more importantly, whoever gets appointed, whatever position, we must earn it.”
ON HOW HIS APPOINTMENT CAME ABOUT
“I had a message from my PA when I was in Oman that the PM would like to meet me on Monday, and to me, this is not unusual as he does have meetings and lunches sometimes.
“So I went there and we talked about the potential for our SMEs and TLCs to participate in the new industrial areas that are turning up. At the same time, I shared my concern of the conflict in the Middle East and how it is getting much worse than it was before.
“But in the midst of all these things, he also made an announcement to me that he wants to promote me as a full Minister.
“I’m thankful to Prime Minister for this affirmation of the contributions that I’ve made for the last eight years. It has been a very long journey. I truly enjoyed it, but most important, felt I really benefited from the experience.
“That he now wants to appoint me to be a full minister, I thank him for that. At the same time, I was told that my two ministers DPM Teo Chee Hean and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam also lent their full support to my promotion. I thank all of them for the support that they have given me.”
ON HIS RESPONSIBILITIES GOING FORWARD
“I don’t think there will be immediate changes. Right now, I focus on strategies and developing areas such as prisons, drugs, drug abuse and youth crime. Also to engage the Malay community in fighting against terrorism because this is one of the things facing our community and a target of propaganda by the terrorists.
“At the same time for Foreign Affairs, I take care of Africa, Middle-East, South Asia, Central Asia and Latin America, as well as to build bridges with Malaysia and Indonesia.
“All these I will carry out, but I believe that as a full Minister, particularly in Foreign Affairs, I will get better access to people and ministers of higher rank so that the interests of Singapore can be better delivered.”
ON SACRIFICES AND FAMILY TIME
“I’d truly like to thank my wife, my children for the support they’ve been giving me all this time. For the last eight years, I’m sure I have neglected them and they have sacrificed a lot. I really thank them for their support and I hope to get this support as I carry out future duties.
“Thank you very much.
“Already we have very little time to spend with our family, but whatever time we have, we treasure it. It’s not always good times, but whatever time we have, it’s time that we look forward to and being together.”