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Lawrence Wong sworn in as Singapore's fourth prime minister

The former DPM was sworn in at the inauguration ceremony at the Istana on May 15.

Former Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong has been sworn in as Singapore’s fourth Prime Minister (PM). The inauguration ceremony was held at the Istana on May 15.

At the ceremony, President Tharman Shanmugaratnam he has “full confidence” in Wong’s ability to lead Singapore, as the nation ventures into unchartered waters internationally, and to rally Singaporeans from all walks of life.

Wong was selected as the leader of the People’s Action Party (PAP) fourth-generation team on April 14, 2022. He was promoted to DPM on June 6, 2022, and appointed as the PAP’s deputy secretary-general, a newly-created role in November 2022.

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With the swearing-in, Wong replaces former PM Lee Hsien Loong, who assumed the title of Senior Minister after 20 years in the top job.

He warns that the new external environment will not be easy and calls for support. “We must brace ourselves to these new realities and adapt to a messier, riskier, and more violent world.”

“With our tripartite partners, we will continue to build a vibrant economy and create good jobs for all,” says Wong. “We will find new ways to be more productive and innovative, and achieve a better balance where work is purposeful, and life is meaningful.”

Speaking to the media a day earlier, Wong said: “I will be open, consultative, I will listen. But in the end, I will not shirk from doing the right thing and the important decisions that are necessary to take Singapore forward. I do not have to write my legacy today. Hopefully at the end of my time and my tenure, I will leave people to write [about] my legacy and what kind of a PM I am. But for now, entering this role and taking on this responsibility, I will only endeavour to do my best and to serve with all my heart, Singapore and Singaporeans.”

Over this last week, the PAP made minor changes to its cabinet. Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong was appointed as DPM on May 13. He will remain as Trade and Industry Minister.

Wong also announced that Gan will replace him as chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Board of Directors. Gan, who has served as MAS’s deputy chairman since July 8, 2023, will serve a two-year term as chairman until May 31, 2026.

Current DPM Heng Swee Keat will remain in his role.

Prior to his appointment, Wong served as chairman of the international advisory council of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), deputy chairman of the GIC board, and chairman of GIC’s investment strategies committee.

He began his public service career as an economist in the Ministry for Trade and Industry in August 1997, then was posted to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) in January 2002 and the Ministry of Health (MOH) in July 2004.

From May 2005 to August 2008, he was Lee’s principal private secretary.

Wong’s political career began when he was fielded and won in West Coast GRC during the 2011 General Election (GE). He then contested in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC in the 2015 GE, and has been a Member of Parliament for the constituency since.

Throughout his political career, Wong has held several positions in various ministries. These include the Ministry of Defence (Mindef), the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Ministry of Education (MOE).

As Minister for National Development, a role he held between October 2015 and July 2020, he, along with then-Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, were appointed co-chairs of a multi-ministerial committee to manage the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore.

The task force was established on Jan 22, 2020, a day before Singapore’s first confirmed Covid-19 case. The task force was shut down on Feb 13, 2023, as Singapore lowered its disease outbreak response system condition (Dorscon) to green from yellow.

Wong became Minister for Education on July 27, 2020, and subsequently Minister for Finance on May 15, 2021, after Heng relinquished the portfolio.

The Straits Times Index (STI) closed 23.61 points lower, or 0.71% down, at 3,289.74 on May 15, before the inauguration ceremony.

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