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S Iswaran looks forward to challenge of helming MCI

WITH "fake news" and communication issues now often cast in the spotlight, the incoming Minister of Communications and Information (MCI) S Iswaran will have his work cut out for him.

But in his first remarks to the media since his appointment was announced on Tuesday, Mr Iswaran - the current Minister of Trade and Industry (Industry) - said that he is "looking forward to the challenge".

With the latest Cabinet reshuffle, he will be appointed Minister for Communications and Information (MCI) from May 1, taking over from Yaacob Ibrahim, who is retiring.

Mr Iswaran will continue in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) but be redesignated as Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations.

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On his move to the MCI, Mr Iswaran said: "It's a challenge in terms of the scope of work that it entails because you do have the telecommunications, information technology and media sectors that are very fast changing because of convergence.

"And at the same time, the information space is a very important one for effective communication between the government and the general population, but also other channels of communication - and it's been in the spotlight of late for a variety of reasons."

He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the biennial Germany-Singapore Business Forum (GSBF) 2018 held at the Hannover Messe, the world's largest industrial tech trade fair.

Mr Iswaran said that his stint in MTI has been both a "very rewarding and interesting" one, working on issues such as enterprise development, tourism growth, research and development, and the energy market development.

He said: "I think in terms of my new responsibility in trade relations, that's an important area for us in Singapore, especially against a backdrop of the current global environment. We want to make sure Singapore's interests are protected even as we try and create new opportunities for our people and for our businesses."

He added that he is looking forward to working with Chan Chun Sing to see how they can take Singapore's trade relations further.

Mr Chan, currently the labour chief, will be the new Minister for Trade and Industry.

Mr Iswaran has been the Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) since 2015 when it was decided to have two ministers helming it.

Mr Iswaran was appointed as Minister of State for MTI in 2006, making this the ministry he has served in longest.

Previously, he has also served in various other ministries including the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Education.