A split-up swearing-in ceremony at two venues

This article is more than 12 months old

The swearing-in ceremony for a new Cabinet at the Istana is traditionally attended by members of the establishment and invited guests from a cross-section of society.

With the country in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year's ceremony was a far more quiet affair, split up over two locations for safe distancing.

In the Istana's State Room were President Halimah Yacob and Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, along with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and half the Cabinet.

The others, including Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, took their oaths in Parliament House instead.

Mr Heng and Mr Chan are the People Action Party's first and second assistant secretary-generals respectively, and head the party's fourth-generation leadership.

The two venues were linked by video, with political office-holders on both sides able to see each other.

But their seats were spaced out at regular intervals, driving home the message of safe distancing. Invited guests, too, watched the proceedings from separate rooms in each building.


Also invited were PAP MPs past and present, and the Workers' Party's newly-elected MPs. PM Lee later posed for a selfie with WP chief Pritam Singh, whom he has designated Leader of the Opposition, after the event.

After the formalities were over, it was time to snap photos and upload social media posts to commemorate the occasion.

Mr Heng posted a photo of the politicians and their spouses posing for a picture outside Parliament House, while Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin posted a rueful shot of himself adjusting the strap of his mask, which appeared to have snapped.

"Lesson learnt: Don't fiddle with mask. Make friends with cameraman," he wrote. "Always practice your knots." - THE STRAITS TIMES

Singapore Politics