President Tharman: 'I have full confidence in Lawrence Wong’s ability to lead S'pore'

He said the new Prime Minister "will be his own person, with his own approach".

Seri Mazliana | May 15, 2024, 08:22 PM



Lawrence Wong was sworn in as the fourth Prime Minister of Singapore on the evening of May 15, 2024 at the Istana.

President Tharman Shanmugaratnam delivered a speech just before the swearing-in ceremony.

In his speech, he thanked the outgoing PM Lee Hsien Loong, highlighted the contributions and qualifications of PM Wong and his 4G team, and assured Singaporeans that the country is in good hands.

Thanked outgoing PM Lee Hsien Loong

President Tharman opened his speech by thanking outgoing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on behalf of Singaporeans for his service in the past 20 years.

"In 2004, when Mr Lee was sworn in, he promised to 'be a Prime Minister for all Singaporeans', and to leave no one behind. He delivered on this promise."

He noted that Singapore has now progressed to become a more inclusive society, saying that income equality has eased, with community contributions towards disadvantaged groups increasing in line with the government's.

President Tharman also highlighted that outgoing PM Lee played a crucial part in keeping "the population’s spirits intact" through crises such as the Global Financial Crisis from 2007 to 2008 and the Covid-19 pandemic from 2020, as well as the repeal of Section 377A in January 2023.

He attributed outgoing PM Lee's political legacy to the norms and standards that the latter held while in office, highlighting traits such as his selflessness, integrity, his efforts to listen to multiple perspectives, and how he handled "difficult issues" without leaving them to other leaders — "even if it means paying an immediate political price."

President Tharman said:

"We must never let slide the expectations of integrity, incorruptibility and conduct that Lee and his predecessors established."

Incoming PM Wong in the local and global stage

On PM Wong starting his Prime Minister role, President Tharman said that he is taking over in a time of "growing global fractiousness and big power contestation".

He noted that PM Wong and his team, including the fourth-generation (4G) leaders, are experienced with international counterparts and thus "well-placed" to secure Singapore's national interests, saying that PM Wong "holds his own with international leaders".

President Tharman highlighted the Forward Singapore roadmap laid out by PM Wong's team, which aims to create a more inclusive, resilient, and united Singapore.

"Those who have worked with Mr Wong, in government and in the community, know that he brings his own package of convictions, life experiences and skills."

President Tharman highlighted that the incoming PM has played a key role in shaping Singapore's economic, fiscal, and social policies, and worked with the Labour Movement to advance the interests of workers.

He also highlighted PM Wong's contributions in co-chairing the Covid-19 taskforce.

"He will be his own person, with his own approach"

President Tharman said:

"I have full confidence in Mr Lawrence Wong’s ability to lead Singapore as we venture into uncharted waters internationally, and to rally Singaporeans from all walks of life to create the next chapter of the Singapore story together.

He will be his own person, with his own approach to building consensus and finding the best way forward for the country. And he will no doubt do so to his own rhythm and beat."

President Tharman said he is committed to working with PM Wong and his government.

Reflecting on his close ties with outgoing PM Lee, he said he looks forward to maintaining a "close and productive relationship" with PM Wong as well.

At the end of his speech, President Tharman assured Singaporeans that the country is in good hands.

"Lawrence Wong and his team will build on the strong foundations laid by previous Prime Ministers and governments, and keep our little red dot shining ever more brightly. Our best years are still ahead of us."

Top photo via Lawrence Wong on Facebook