My mission is to defy odds & ‘sustain this miracle called S’pore’: PM Wong at swearing-in

The new Prime Minister also talked about how he would make Singapore more inclusive.

Matthias Ang | May 15, 2024, 09:21 PM



Prime Minister Lawrence Wong was officially sworn in to his new role on May 15, 2024.

The ceremony was held at the Istana.

In his swearing-in speech, PM Wong thanked the previous Prime Ministers, spoke about the country's path forward in facing a world of "conflict and rivalry", as well as how the government will continue to maintain the country's success.

He then concluded his speech by promising to make Singapore more inclusive, and to continue improving the country as Prime Minister.

First Prime Minister to be born after 1965

PM Wong started his speech saying he was "deeply honoured" to be sworn in as the Prime Minister.

He then addressed the audience of "Singaporeans from all walks of life", saying they embodied the "rich fabric of our nation", and saying that he sought their support and trust.

Wong highlighted that he is the first Prime Minister of Singapore to be born after Singapore's independence.

Almost all his colleagues in the 4G team were also born after 1965, he added.

He also paid tribute to the country's first generation of leaders.

He lauded their "imaginative policies" and cited the values of incorruptibility, meritocracy, multiracialism, justice and equality as the principles ingrained within every Singaporean.

PM Wong said the next chapter of the Singapore Story would build on the work of previous generations:

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his team led us through independence and established the key principles of governance.

Mr Goh Chok Tong took us through the next lap, and nurtured a kinder and gentler society.

These are important foundations we will build on."

PM Wong then thanked outgoing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, highlighting how he had devoted himself to the service of Singapore and Singaporeans, as well as how the country has navigated various crises, both domestic and international, under his leadership.

He also voiced his gratitude for how the more experienced ministers will continue to serve in his Cabinet.

PM Wong said, "We will lead in our own way. We will continue to think boldly and to think far. We know that there is still much to do."

The government will also prioritise identifying and persuading Singaporeans in their 30s and 40s to join the People's Action Party (PAP).

Singapore faces a world of "conflict and rivalry"

PM Wong noted that while Singapore currently has a strong position in the world, the era of post-Cold War peace and stability in the Asia Pacific has ended.

Singapore now faces a world of "conflict and rivalry" marked by great power competition, protectionism and "rampant" nationalism which will likely last for "years, if not decades".

The country will therefore be affected economically with the fracturing of multilateralism.

It will also be vulnerable to external influences that will pull the country in different directions as a result of its diversity.

However, Singapore's international standing is high and its brand is trusted worldwide, PM Wong noted.

The country values the centrality of Asean and its efforts to foster regional integration and cooperation, and hopes for stable relations between U.S. and China, even as issues will inevitably arise between them.

"We will strengthen our partnerships, near and far; and advance Singapore's interests, so as to better shape outcomes for ourselves as well as the world," PM Wong said.

The key to Singapore's success is maintaining trust

The Prime Minister then noted that the key to meeting these challenges is ensuring there is a high level of trust between Singaporeans and their ability to work well together.

Singapore has strengthened its bonds as a people by embracing the differences between the various races, religions and languages rather than denying them, PM Wong added.

When issues arise between different communities, he said, Singapore does not accentuate differences but accepts them instead.

"We seek pragmatic compromises and find as much common ground as possible. We do so in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust," he said.

This is the ethos that will guide his team, he added.

It is also how the government will continue to strengthen Singapore's identity.

Such a "collective striving" for unity is how Singapore was able to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic, PM Wong noted.

The way the country responded has also deepened Singapore's social capital and made Singaporeans stronger as a people, he added.

Making Singapore more inclusive

PM Wong said the Covid-19 pandemic was a "baptism of fire" for himself and his team.

"It reinforced my conviction that our exceptional performance as a nation lies not in any one person or any single institution, but in how well we can work together as one Team Singapore," he said.

The Prime Minister then noted that while Singapore is at a high economic level, compared to other countries, it is also facing changing circumstances with advancing technology and an ageing population.

"We must continue to do our best – to improve, upgrade, and transform Singapore," he said.

PM Wong then cited the Forward Singapore exercise as part of the government's efforts to do better.

"Forward Singapore represents the ambition of our generation," he said.

In particular, younger Singaporeans have said that while they will strive and work hard for their goals, they do not want to be trapped in an "endless rat race of hyper-competition".

"They want a refreshed Singapore Dream — one that is not defined by material success alone, but also offers meaning and purpose in their careers and in their lives," he said.

The Prime Minister then vowed to find new ways to make Singapore more productive and innovative, and strive to achieve a better balance — "where work is purposeful, and life is meaningful".

He also vowed to look after the country's seniors, vulnerable and those with special needs, saying Singapore can "be a people who are more inclusive, gracious, and big-hearted".

"We will have to experiment, discover fresh solutions and blaze new paths," he said.

PM Wong said:

"As Prime Minister, I will lead and bear responsibility for the decisions I take.

But I will also engage and maximised the combined energies, imaginations and strengths of all Singaporeans.

That is how we take our nation forward in this dangerous and troubled world."

"My mission is clear: to continue defying the odds and to sustain this miracle called Singapore," said PM Wong in the concluding segment of his speech.

"So that we can reach even greater heights.

So that we can be a beacon of hope and unity for ourselves and our children."

Top screenshot via video by Lawrence Wong on Facebook