PM Lee Hsien Loong's tribute to Dr Lee Boon Yang

SM Lee Hsien Loong | 27 March 2009

PM Lee Hsien Loong paid tribute to Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) Dr Lee Boon Yang on his retirement from government on 1 April 2009.


(ST File Photo)

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong has paid tribute to Dr Lee Boon Yang, who will step down as Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica) and retire from the Government on April 1.

In a three-page letter to Dr Lee on Friday, thanking him for his 24 years of service and contributions in government, PM Lee said he had a 'varied, challenging and distinguished career'. 

'In all these appointments, you applied yourself, mastered your responsibilities, and brought your experience, judgment and practical sense to bear,' said Mr Lee.

'Your ministries were not only competently run, but broke new ground dealing with fresh problems and emerging opportunities. More broadly, the Cabinet has benefited from your steady and sound counsel.

'I would like to record my gratitude for all that you have done in your varied responsibilities in government. Singapore depends on men like you with integrity and ability, who commit themselves to serve the country and their fellow citizens.'

Dr Lee, 61, who began his career as a veterinary surgeon, will remain an MP for Jalan Besar GRC.

He is succeeded by Rear-Admiral (NS) Lui Tuck Yew, 47, currently Senior Minister of State for Mica. RADM Lui will give up his other portfolio as Senior Minister of State for Education.

Dr Lee was appointed Mica minister in 2003 and under his watch, has helped enhanced the vibrancy of the arts and cultural scene, said Mr Lee.

Among his many achievements, he promoted the growth of the telecoms industry and supported the provision of a nationwide Wireless Network.

He also oversaw the orderly liberalisation of the media industry and the relaxation of rules on party political films to allow wider political participation and expression. 

Dr Lee Boon Yang's comments (pdf, 18.23KB)

Rejuvenation must go on

By Irene Ngoo

DR LEE Boon Yang on Friday said his retirement from Government, where he has served for 24 years, is 'necessary and timely as the process of rejuvenation must be sustained'.

'The new Cabinet appointments will forge a stronger team to lead Singapore,' said the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica), a day after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced changes to the Cabinet and new appointments as part of a leadership renewal. 

In a statement on his retirement on April 1, Dr Lee looked back on his varied and challenging career, and recalled some of the satisfying and 'difficult' moments he went through serving various ministries, including defence, manpower and Mica.

'I had the benefit of very capable administrators and civil servants to work with me at each Ministry. We work closely on pushing the boundaries and advancing our mission,' said Dr Lee, 61.

Listing some of his memorable achievements, he said he derived great satisfaction from witnessing the growing vibrancy in Singapore's arts and heritage sectors, singling out Singapore Biennale, School of the Arts and the National Art Gallery project, as some of the key milestones under his watch.

'The implementation of the Next Generation National Broadband Network is also a project which gives me great satisfaction,' he added. 'This is a very major investment with powerful catalytic impact on the economy and society.'

On the difficult moments, he cited raising the retirement age from 55 to 62 as one when he was the Manpower Minister, as it entailed making adjustment to CPF contribution.

'Having to cut CPF in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis was not easy. Fortunately for Singapore and for me as the Minister-in-charge, the union leaders were always forward looking and pragmatic,' he said. 'It took many sessions with unionists but we were able to win their support and confidence for moves which helped Singapore to make adjustment for an ageing society and reposition for economic recovery.'

He also had to deal with many difficult moments in Mica over 'what to do with this or that art event or presentation'.

'But I have always accepted that the arts can be controversial and provocative. So I try not to be rigid or to overreact but to look for a balanced outcome. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not and critics still fire away. But that is the nature of the arts,' said Dr Lee.

On what he will miss in retirement, the minister said: 'I will miss the challenge of grappling with big issues and decision making at national level. But retirement may open the door to other possibilities which can also be meaningful and satisfying.'

He said he has not decided on what to do next but will continue his duties as MP for Jalan Besar GRC, which will 'take up a significant portion of my time'.

He also looks forward to spending more time with his family, and let on that his daughter just had her first baby recently.

-end of ST articles