Ong Ye Kung

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The Honourable
Ong Ye Kung
MP
王乙康
Ong Ye Kung at the PAP Party Convention - 20151206.jpg
Minister for Education
(Higher Education and Skills)
Assumed office
1 November 2016
Acting: 1 October 2015 – 31 October 2016

Serving with Ng Chee Meng (Schools) (2015)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Heng Swee Keat
Second Minister for Defence
Ministry of Defence
Assumed office
1 November 2016
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Minister Ng Eng Hen
Senior Minister of State
Ministry of Defence
In office
1 October 2015 – 31 October 2016
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Minister Ng Eng Hen
Member of the Singapore Parliament
for Sembawang GRC
(Gambas)
Assumed office
11 September 2015
Personal details
Born (1969-11-15) 15 November 1969 (age 47)
Singapore
Nationality Singapore
Political party People's Action Party (2011)
Spouse(s) Diana Kuik Sin Leng
Alma mater London School of Economics

Ong Ye Kung (Chinese: 王乙康; pinyin: Wáng Yĭ Kāng; born 15 November 1969[1][2]) is a Singaporean politician. A member of the governing People's Action Party (PAP), he is currently the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for the Ministry of Defence. He has also been a Member of parliament (MP) for Sembawang GRC since September 2015 following the 2015 general elections.

He was previously the Director of Group Strategy at Keppel Corporation in Singapore.,[3] Deputy Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), the Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, and the Principal Private Secretary to Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

In August 2015, the PAP announced that Ong would be a candidate for the party in the Sembawang Group Representation Constituency at the 2015 general election.[4] His team won, and subsequently, he was elected to Parliament.

Ong is appointed Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence since 1 October 2015.[5] Together with another minister Ng Chee Meng, they have both been promoted to full-ministers on 1 November 2016 and became second ministers in their respective Defence and Transport portfolios despite little political experience.

In 2016, during a parliamentary seating Ong drew public flak for belittling minority races in Singapore, claiming that the Chinese had to make sacrifices to accommodate them.

Career[edit]

From 1993 to 1999, Ong served in the Ministry of Communications. While he was there, he helped to develop the Land Transport White Paper and was part of the team which established Singapore's Land Transport Authority.

Ong then served in the Ministry of Trade and Industry from 2000 to 2003 as Director of Trade and Deputy Chief Negotiator for the Singapore-US Free Trade Agreement (which was signed in May 2003).

From 2002 to 2004, Ong was the Principal Private Secretary to Singapore's then Deputy Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

Ong was the Chief Executive of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency from 2005 to 2008. There, he spearheaded many initiatives to build up the Continuing Education and Training infrastructure for Singapore, and made training accessible to the individual worker, including contract workers and the unemployed.

Following that, Ong joined the NTUC as Assistant Secretary-General. He is also the Chairman of the Employment and Employability Institute, and Executive Secretary for the National Transport Workers' Union and the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers' Union.

In 2011, Ong stood for Parliament as a PAP candidate in the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC). Ong was tipped as a future candidate for ministerial office if he was elected.[6] He was part of the 5-member PAP team in the constituency led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, George Yeo, which also include minister in prime minister,second minister for transport and financed Lim Hwee Hua, Cynthia Phua and senior minister of state for foreign affairs Zainul Abidin Bin Mohamed Rasheed. They faced the "A-Team" of the opposition Workers' Party led by the party's Secretary-General, Low Thia Khiang, along with Sylvia Lim (the party's Chairman), Chen Show Mao, Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap and Pritam Singh. The Workers' Party's team defeated the PAP team by 72,289 votes (54.7%) to 59,829 (45.2%),[7] marking the first occasion in Singapore's history in which the PAP lost an election in a GRC. A desire for more alternative voices in Parliament is thought to have been among the key reasons why voters in Aljunied voted against the PAP team.[8]

Commenting on the election results, Ong said that he had entered politics despite a personal dilemma with his family to champion the cause of workers in Singapore. Despite the defeat, he said that the experience had been a privilege as he had fought alongside George Yeo, who he was honoured to learn from. While admitting that the results were a blow, he commented that politics is never about the power, but the motivation to serve the people.[9]

Following the general election, Ong continued to work at the NTUC. He became the NTUC's Deputy Secretary-General in June 2011.

Later that year, he was elected into the NTUC's Central Committee (its apex decision-making body) at the National Delegates' Conference, which is held once every four years.[10]

Ong has stated that believes that the key role of the NTUC should be firstly raising productivity first, and secondly having an understanding with employers that when companies do well, and productivity goes up, they must have a formula and a way to share the gains with workers. This, he believes, is the most sustainable way to ensure that workers' lives improve.[11]

As independent director on the SMRT Board, Ong was appointed to head an internal investigation into the major train disruptions between 15 and 17 December 2011.[12] The report was completed and submitted to the national Committee of Inquiry set up by the government to investigate into the incidents.

Ong left the NTUC in November 2012[13] and joined Keppel Corporation in January 2013 as Director of Group Strategy.[14]

In August 2015, the PAP announced that Ong would be a candidate for the party in the Sembawang Group Representation Constituency at the 2015 general election.[4] His team won, and subsequently, he was elected to Parliament.

On 29 August 2016, MAS announced that Ong will be appointed to its Board of Directors with immediate effect. Ong's term will be from 29 Aug 2016 to 31 May 2019

Current appointments[edit]

  • Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for the Ministry of Defence
  • Board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore

Previous appointments[edit]

  • Director of Group Strategy at Keppel Corporation
  • Deputy Secretary General of the National Trades Union Congress (2008-2012)
  • CE of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (2005–2008)
  • Principal Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister (2002–2004)
  • Director of Trade at the Ministry of Trade & Industry (2000–2003)
  • Deputy Chief Negotiator of Singapore-US Free Trade Agreement (2000–2003)
  • Director/Deputy Director at the Ministry of Communications (1993–1999)

Others: Former Board member of the SMRT Corporation [15] from 2006 to 2014, Chairman of the Employment and Employability Institute, Advisers to the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU), Singapore Industrial and Services Employees’ Union (SISEU), and Attractions, Resorts & Entertainment Union (AREU)

Education[edit]

Ong was educated at Maris Stella High School and Raffles Junior College, before going on to the London School of Economics where he completed a BSc (Econ) degree in 1991. In 1999, he completed a Master of Business Administration degree at the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland.

Family[edit]

A Hokkien Singaporean, Ong is married and has two daughters.

Ong's father, Ong Lian Teng, was a Barisan Sosialis politician who was a Member of Parliament from 1963 to 1966, when he resigned to protest the "undemocratic acts" of the PAP government. In an interview with The Straits Times in 2011, Ong noted that his father (who died in 2009) had been fully supportive of his son's decision to become involved in politics as a member of the PAP despite his own past involvement in opposition politics in Singapore.[16]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Heng Swee Keat
Minister for Education
(Higher Education and Skills)

2015 (acting)
Incumbent