Will this new culture minister bring about change in Singapore’s culture scene?

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced his new cabinet of ministers in a press conference after snap polls garnered some 70% of the vote for the People’s Action Party (PAP). Amid the changes, it was revealed that Ms Grace Fu will be replacing Mr Lawrence Wong as the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth. She is the first female full minister to head a ministry.

Fu was previously Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office as well as Second Minister in the environment and water, as well as foreign affairs portfolios. She was the second female minister to be elected since Singapore’s independence. She is also the only female minister in the current cabinet lineup, and is the chairman of the PAP Women’s Wing.

She will also be Leader of the House when she is sworn into the new cabinet on October 1.

Wong will now be taking up a portfolio in the national development office, after Mr Khaw Boon Wan switched portfolios to take up transport, a portfolio which was vacated by previous minister Lui Tuck Yew.

Assisting Fu in her work is Miss Sim Ann, who takes up the Senior Minister of State role in the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) after previous portfolios in education and law.

Mr Baey Yam Keng has been promoted into the cabinet for the first time in his political career, coming into MCCY as Parliamentary Secretary.

Fu, Sim and Baey come on the MCCY portfolio at a time of change in the worlds of culture, community and youth. With an increasingly literate younger generation, many have come forward with views on how they want to see the Singapore of the future, with them turning to social media to ensure their views are heard.

With at least one cultural institution going by the wayside, all eyes will be on the new MCCY cabinet to iterate their stand on culture and conservation. It is also a good time for Singapore, where artists, musicians, food connoisseurs and even persons in law are taking matters into their own hands to stamp their mark on the culture scene in the little red dot.

And with calls for the youth to be more inclusive in open, constructive conversation and the government to support cultural intangibles, there is hope that the new generation will bring about a whole-of-globe touch to the culture scene here while not forgetting its roots. With some strategic pushes by events such as Art Stage Singapore, American Writers Festival and showcases of Singapore talent to the world, whether top-down or bottom-up, there is heart that indeed culture is a value that is growing in Singapore and has its worth beyond economic value.

Watch the press conference unveiling the current cabinet:

Featured photo: Latvian Foreign Ministry (via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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