Josephine Teo

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Josephine Teo Li Min
Josephine Teo September 2016 (29908295102).jpg
Member of the Singapore Parliament
for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC (Bishan North)
Assumed office
27 April 2006
Preceded by Zanail Nordin (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC-Bishan-Toa Payoh North)
Majority 15,180 (13.9%)
Minister for Manpower
Assumed office
1 May 2018
Preceded by Lim Swee Say
Second Minister for Home Affairs
Assumed office
11 September 2017
Minister K. Shanmugam
Minister in Prime Minister's Office
In office
1 May 2017 – 30 April 2018
Serving with Chan Chun Sing
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Second Minister for Manpower
In office
1 May 2017 – 30 April 2018
Minister Lim Swee Say
Second Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
1 May 2017 – 10 September 2017
Minister Vivian Balakrishnan
Senior Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office
In office
1 October 2015 – 30 April 2017
Serving with Heng Chee How
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport
In office
1 September 2013 – 30 April 2017
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Minister Khaw Boon Wan
Lui Tuck Yew
Senior Minister of State, Ministry Of Finance
In office
1 September 2013 – 30 September 2015
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam
Preceded by new appointment
Succeeded by Indranee Rajah
Personal details
Born Yong Li Min
(1968-07-08) 8 July 1968 (age 50)
Nationality Singapore
Political party People's Action Party
Spouse(s) Teo Eng Cheong
Children 3
Residence Singapore
Alma mater National University of Singapore
London School of Economics
Occupation Politician


  • Education
  • Defence & Foreign Affairs

Josephine Teo Li Min née Yong Li Min (simplified Chinese: 杨莉明; traditional Chinese: 楊莉明; pinyin: Yáng Lì Míng; born 8 July 1968) is a Singaporean politician. A member of the country's governing People's Action Party (PAP), she was a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and is currently the Minister of Manpower, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Transport.[2] She has been a Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency since 2006.


Teo 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, Teo became the EDB's Head of Human Resources.[3]

From 2002 to 2006, Teo served as the Head of Human Resources at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).[3]

In November 2005, Teo 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 also 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).[4] She also served as the NTUC's Assistant Secretary-General from 2007 to 2011.[5]

From 2009 to 2011, Teo also served as the Chief Executive Officer of Business China,[6][7] 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.[6]

Political career[edit]

Teo meeting with The head of government of the City of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri in 2012

Teo entered Parliament at the 2006 general election as an MP for the Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

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.[8]

Following the 2011 general election, Teo was appointed a Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport on 18 May 2011, succeeding Ms Lim Hwee Hua. Teo was promoted to Senior Minister Of State at the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport on 1 September 2013.

She served as the Senior Minister Of State at the Ministry of Finance until 30 September 2015.[2][9]

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. [10] She also oversees the National Population and Talent Division.

Teo succeeded Mr Lim Swee Say as Manpower Minister. She is Singapore's second female minister to helm a ministry. [11]


Responding to suggestions for National Service (NS) men to be paid more at a post-budget forum in 2015, Teo remarked that service to the country "cannot be measured in dollars and cents".[12] A huge public reaction ensued, with many Singaporeans criticising Teo for side-stepping the topic and avoiding the question.

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."[13] 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.[14] 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.[15] In addition, different babies may require additional supplements, or have certain allergies and preferences to milk powder.


Teo was educated at Dunman High School and Raffles Junior College,[4] 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.[3] 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.[3]

Personal life[edit]

A Hakka Singaporean, Teo's maiden surname is Yong. She is married to a former civil servant Teo Eng Cheong.[16] The couple have three children.


External links[edit]