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Ong Ye Kung (王乙康, Wáng Yĭ Kāng; born 15 November 1969[1][2]) is a Singaporean politician. A member of the governing People's Action Party (PAP), he was the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), Ong is the Minister for Education after 24 April 2018 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.[3] He was also mentioned in an article by The Guardian identifying him with Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un taking a selfie, and being referred to as an 'unknown man'.[4]


From 1993 to 1999, Ong served in the Ministry of Communications., during the late Ong Teng Cheong's presidential term. 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).Template:Citation needed

From 2002 to 2004, Ong was the Principal Private Secretary to Singapore's then Deputy Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, who was then Finance Minister and later became PM.Template:Citation needed

Ong was the Chief Executive of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency from 2005 to 2008.Template:Citation needed Following that, Ong joined the NTUC as Assistant Secretary-General.Template:Citation needed

In 2011, Ong contested as part of the 5-member PAP team led by Minister for Foreign Affairs, George Yeo in the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC).[5] His team was defeated by the Workers' Party (WP) team led by the party's Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang,[6] marking the first occasion in Singapore's history in which the PAP lost an election in a GRC.[7]

Following the general election, Ong continued to work at the NTUC.Template:Citation needed He became the NTUC's Deputy Secretary-General in June 2011Template:Citation needed and was elected into the NTUC's Central Committee later that year.[8]

In 2015, Ong contested as a PAP candidate in the Sembawang Group Representation Constituency at the 2015 general election.[3] His team won, and he became a Member of the Parliament.

In 2017, Ong moved a Bill in Parliament to confer Singapore University of Social Sciences autonomous status.[9]

Ong is widely seen as one of the three leading contestants to be the fourth generation Prime Minister for Singapore.[10]

Previous appointments[]

  • Director of Group Strategy at Keppel Corporation (2013-2015)[11]
  • Deputy Secretary General of the National Trades Union Congress (2008-2012)[12]
  • Chief Executive of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (2005–2008)
  • Principal Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong (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)

Other appointments[]

  • Board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (29 Aug 2016 to 31 May 2019)[13]
  • Former Board member of the SMRT Corporation (2006 - 2014)[14] As an independent director, Ong was appointed to head an internal investigation into the major train disruptions between 15 and 17 December 2011.[15]
  • Chairman of the Employment and Employability InstituteTemplate:Citation needed
  • Advisers to the National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU)Template:Citation needed, Singapore Industrial and Services Employees’ Union (SISEU)Template:Citation needed, and Attractions, Resorts & Entertainment Union (AREU)Template:Citation needed
  • Executive Secretary for the National Transport Workers' Union and the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers' Union.Template:Citation needed


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.


A Hokkien Singaporean, Ong is married to Diana Kuik Sin Leng, daughter of real estate magnate Kuik Ah Han.[16][17] The couple 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.[18]

Unknown Man at Trump-Kim summit[]

Ong was the Minister-In Attendance during the 2018 North Korea-United States summit held in Singapore. On the eve of the summit (11 June 2018), he accompanied Mr Kim Jong Un on a tour of key sights in Singapore, along with Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. The night tour saw the trio taking in the views at Gardens by the Bay, the Marina Bay Sands Skypark and the Jubilee Bridge. Kim’s first public selfie with the two ministers taken at the Flower Dome was widely reported in newspapers all over the world.[19][20][21][22][23] However, UK’s The Guardian only referred to Ong as an 'unknown man'[4], sparking an online debate about his identity, including whether he was a Korean.[24]

See also[]


  1. Template:Cite web
  2. Ong Ye Kung's page on the PAP website says he was 42 in 2011, so it is deduced that he was born around 1969 or 1970.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ong Ye Kung, Amrin Amin join PAP's Sembawang GRC team,, 14 August 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Template:Cite web
  5. Template:Cite web
  6. Template:Cite web
  7. Template:Cite news
  8. Template:Cite web
  9. Template:Cite web
  10. Template:Cite news
  12. It's confirmed: Ong Ye Kung is leaving NTUC, Today, 27 September 2012.
  15. Template:Cite web
  16. Template:Cite web
  17. Template:Cite news
  18. Their dads were once PAP adversaries, The Straits Times, 22 March 2011.
  19. Template:Cite web
  20. Template:Cite web
  21. Template:Cite web
  22. Template:Cite web
  23. Template:Cite web
  24. Template:Cite web

External links[]