SINGAPORE — When he entered politics in 2011, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin had harboured hopes of joining the Ministry of Social and Family Development and was delighted that he received the posting as its minister in 2015.
He disclosed this in a farewell message posted on the ministry's blog, MSF Conversations, as he marked his last day in office on Sunday (Sept 10).
On Monday, Mr Tan, 48, the Prime Minister's nomination for Speaker of Parliament after Mdm Halimah Yacob vacated the post last month to stand for President, is set to be elected by the House when it sits.
In his blog post, Mr Tan said he had been heartened to work with colleagues and partners in the social sector, whom he described as "passionate and dedicated" to helping Singaporeans who needed a leg up.
"A big thank you to all the heart and hard work that you've put in," he wrote.
Although the MSF has gone through changes since it started out as a social welfare department in 1946, Mr Tan noted that its aim remained the same: "To ensure no one gets left behind."
"The Government has many social safety nets in place for those who need help. We don't want to just catch them when they fall; more importantly, we want to help them get back onto their feet," he said.
He highlighting some of the MSF's initiatives over the years, which include setting up 24 social service offices across the island to make it easier for those in need to seek assistance.
The ministry is now working on "more upstream measures to identify what are some of the precursors and step in to help the families or individuals prevent the situation from deteriorating".
Other efforts rolled out include the three Enabling Masterplans to support those with special needs and their caregivers, as well as KidStart, which helps vulnerable children from low-income families by providing better support in education, healthcare and other developmental needs.
Replacing Mr Tan is Mr Desmond Lee, who was promoted to a full minister in May and was previously also the Second Minister for Home Affairs. He will continue to be the Second Minister for National Development.
Mr Tan, who will continue to drive SG Cares - a movement to encourage volunteerism - together with Mr Lee and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, called on more Singaporeans to step forward to foster a caring society.
He also asked people to more understanding of those with different needs, which would translate into "acceptance ...(of) those with special needs, an increase in employment opportunities and more empathy for caregivers".
Thanking his MSF colleagues, Mr Tan said, "Your work is often not easy, especially when facing difficult decisions concerning safety and welfare of the vulnerable.
"Don't give up, and do continue to make a difference. It really matters. I will always root for MSF, its causes and its people, regardless of where and in which capacity I serve.
"I leave MSF in the good hands of Desmond, who shares the same heart for building a resilient and compassionate society. Let's continue to work together to build a better Singapore."
Mr Tan said last week that he also hopes to champion issues that "matter a great deal to society" on top of his parliamentary duties.