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Josephine Teo Li Min
|Minister for Communications and Information|
|Assumed office |
15 May 2021
|Prime Minister||Lee Hsien Loong|
|Preceded by||S. Iswaran|
|Second Minister for Home Affairs|
|Assumed office |
11 September 2017
|Preceded by||Desmond Lee|
|Member of Parliament |
for Jalan Besar GRC
(Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng)
|Assumed office |
10 July 2020
|Preceded by||Lily Neo (PAP)|
|Past offices held|
Josephine Yong Li Min
8 July 1968
|Political party||People's Action Party|
|Spouse(s)||Teo Eng Cheong|
|Alma mater||National University of Singapore|
London School of Economics
Josephine Teo Li Min (née Yong; born 8 July 1968) is a Singaporean politician. A member of the country's governing People's Action Party (PAP), Teo is Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of the Cyber Security Agency and Smart Nation Initiative. She was previously Minister of Manpower from 2018 to 2021.
She was educated at Dunman High School and Raffles Junior College, before going on to the National University of Singapore where she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in 1990 and a Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) in 1991. She was awarded several prizes, including the Rachel Meyer Book Prize, which is awarded to the best woman student in the Final Examinations of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She was then awarded a postgraduate scholarship under the EDB-Glaxo Scholarship Programme and completed a Master of Science (Economics) degree at the London School of Economics in 1992.
She worked at Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) from 1992 to 2002. She began her career there in enterprise development, and was later posted to Suzhou, China, as part of EDB's pioneering team there. While on secondment to the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Pte Ltd, she was responsible for Marketing Resources. Upon her return to Singapore, she became the EDB's Head of Human Resources.
In November 2005, she also took on the role of Director of Human Resources at the Administration and Research Unit (ARU) of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).
After her election to Parliament in 2006, Teo took on additional roles within the NTUC and the labour movement. She served as the Executive Secretary of the Singapore Industrial Services Employees' Union (2006–11). At the ARU, she served as the Alignment Director (Youth Development) and Alignment Director (Organisation Development) (2007–11), and as the Centric Director (Staff) (2008–11). She also served as the NTUC's Assistant Secretary-General from 2007 to 2011.
From 2009 to 2011, Teo also served as the Chief Executive Officer of Business China, an organisation established to nurture an inclusive bilingual and bi-cultural group of Singaporeans through the use of Chinese language and to develop a cultural and economic bridge between China and the world.
During her first term in Parliament, she served as the Chair of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Education, and as a member of the GPC for Defence & Foreign Affairs.
Following the 2011 general election, she was appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport on 18 May 2011, succeeding Ms Lim Hwee Hua in her finance and transport portfolios. She was promoted to Senior Minister Of State at the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport on 1 September 2013 and also succeeding Zainudin Nordin in Bishan North.
She was promoted to full minister and be appointed as Minister in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), and Second Minister in the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1 May 2017. She also oversees the National Population and Talent Division.
She later succeeded Mr Lim Swee Say as Manpower Minister on 1 May 2018, being the second female minister to helm a ministry after Grace Fu. She has been a Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Bishan–Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency and was an advisor of the Bishan-Toa Payoh grassroots organisations from 27 April 2006 to 22 June 2020 before moving over to Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency and is now an adviser to Kreta Ayer- Kim Seng Grassroots Organisations where she succeeded Lily Neo and leads the Jalan Besar GRC Team.
During a cabinet reshuffle, she succeeded S Iswaran as Minister of Communication and Information and Minister-in-charge of the Cyber Security Agency, and Vivian Balakrishnan as Minister-In-Charge of Smart Nation Initiative respectively. In 2021, Teo was involved with Singtel new advertisement called Powering Up Singapore with SingTel 5G.
In a media interview in October 2016, Teo responded to questions of whether Singaporeans are getting their HDB flats early enough in order to start a family, stating that one "does not need much space to have sex". Teo further added that "In France, in the UK, in the Nordic countries, man meets woman, tonight they can make a baby already." This drew much flak from the public, with many Singaporeans criticizing her for being insensitive and not being able to understand practical considerations such as the high costs of living. Others also accused Teo of trying to promote Western values, ways of life and promiscuity in Singapore.
In May 2017, Teo commenting on the issue of high cost of milk powder in Singapore on her Facebook page, wrote that "milk is milk, however fancy the marketing". She further claimed that she would buy whichever brand of milk powder approved for sale by AVA that was cheapest for her own kids. She was criticised for not knowing that even the cheapest milk powder in Singapore is still much more expensive than other countries in the region.[unreliable source] In addition, different babies may require additional supplements, or have certain allergies and preferences to milk powder.
On 26 October 2018, Teo commented that implementing minimum wage in Singapore may instead lead to higher unemployment and that Singapore's income inequality gap is "a problem of success" that is "difficult to overcome". She made these comments at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS)'s 30th anniversary conference, where IPS's special adviser Professor Tommy Koh pointed out that Singapore's income profile today "looks more like a pear than an olive", with a large number of people "at the bottom", as opposed to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's vision of "a Singapore which resembles an olive - very few very rich, very few poor people, and a very large middle income".
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