Senior Minister

Senior Minister (abbreviation: SM) is a political office in the Cabinet of Singapore. The holder of this office has so far been a former Prime Minister or former Deputy Prime Minister.

Senior Minister of Singapore
Tharman Shanmugaratnam
Teo Chee Hean

since 1 May 2019
AppointerPrime Minister of Singapore
Formation1985–2011, 2019
First holderS. Rajaratnam
The title "Senior Minister" was also a title used in Canada, before "Deputy Prime Minister" was introduced in 1977.


S. Rajaratnam was one of the co-founders of the People's Action Party. Upon Independence in 1965, he served as the country's first Minister for Foreign Affairs before being appointed Deputy Prime Minister in 1980. He then took on the newly created role of Senior Minister in 1985, before his retirement in 1988.[1]

Lee Kuan Yew was the country's first Prime Minister. Upon his handover to Goh Chok Tong in 1990, he was appointed Senior Minister by his successor. He was ranked second in the order of precedence, superseding the country's sitting Deputy PMs.[2]

Goh Chok Tong was appointed Senior Minister in 2004, upon his handover to the country's third Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. As SM, he was ranked second in the order of precedence, while Lee Kuan Yew, appointed Minister Mentor, was third in the order of precedence.[3]

S. Jayakumar relinquished his Deputy Prime Minister role in 2009 and was appointed Senior Minister, and retired from politics before the 2011 General Elections.[4] After the election, both former prime ministers Goh Chok Tong and Lee (who was then Minister Mentor) left the cabinet in 2011, but they remained as backbench MPs; Goh was conferred the title of 'Emeritus Senior Minister' (ESM in short), while Lee continued to serve as MP for nearly four years until his death on 23 March 2015.[5]

Between 21 May 2011 and 1 May 2019, no ministers held the role of Senior Minister until the titular post returned after an eight-year absence, where previous Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam relinquishes their portfolios to Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat in order to take up the Senior Minister post.[6]

List of Senior Ministers of SingaporeEdit

No. Name Start of term End of term Political Party
1 S. Rajaratnam 2 January 1985 3 September 1988   People's Action Party
Vacant (1988–1990)
2 Lee Kuan Yew 28 November 1990 12 August 2004   People's Action Party
3 Goh Chok Tong 12 August 2004 21 May 2011
4 S. Jayakumar 1 April 2009 21 May 2011
Vacant (2011–2019)
5 Teo Chee Hean 1 May 2019 Incumbent   People's Action Party
Tharman Shanmugaratnam 1 May 2019 Incumbent

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ National Library Board, Singapore. "S. Rajaratnam".
  2. ^ Rachel Chang. "New man at the helm: The first leadership handover, from Lee Kuan Yew". The Straits Times.
  3. ^ National Library Board, Singapore. "Goh Chok Tong".
  4. ^ "Valedictory Letter from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Prof S. Jayakumar".
  5. ^ "SM Goh, MM Lee to leave Cabine". Channel NewsAsia. Singapore. 14 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Heng Swee Keat to be promoted to DPM in Cabinet reshuffle". Channel NewsAsia. 23 Apr 2019. Retrieved 23 Apr 2019.