Lawrence Wong to be Sworn in as Singapore’s 4th PM on May 15

By Jose Resurreccion

May 14, 2024 01:54 AM EDT

Lawrence Wong to be Sworn in as Singapore’s 4th PM on May 15
Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong delivers a speech during the Singapore Fab expansion grand opening in Singapore on September 12, 2023.
(Photo : ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong will lead the city-state beginning Wednesday (May 15).

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last month that he would be stepping down after nearly two decades in the role. 

Singapore Cabinet Reshuffles

State media outlet Mediacorp reported that trade and industry minister Gan Kim Yong would replace Wong as one of the country's two deputy prime ministers, with Heng Swee Keat being the other. Gan would also replace Wong as the chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). 

Lee, on the other hand, would be relegated to the role of "Senior Minister" in the Prime Minister's Office, primarily as an advisory role for Wong while retaining his role as chairman of the country's Research, Innovation, and Enterprise Council.

Wong and Gan would retain their finance and trade ministerial portfolios, respectively.

On Monday (May 13), Wong, Gan, and Heng held a press conference to confirm the reshuffles and the retention of several of Lee's cabinet ministers. 

Singaporean President Tharman Shanmugaratnam formally accepted Lee's resignation and recommended that Wong succeed him late Monday night. Tharman also met with both men separately.

National University of Singapore's (NUS) Department of Political Science deputy chief Bilveer Singh told Mediacorp that Wong's decision reflected a preference for continuity over change. 

Wong and several other new, reassigned, and retained ministers and junior ministers will be sworn in at the Istana presidential palace Wednesday night, ending Lee's 20-year tenure at the helm. 

Wong's cabinet would stay in their respective portfolios until the 2025 general election. In the previous 2020 election, the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), which has been in power since Singapore's independence in 1965, won 61% of the vote, or 83 out of 98 seats in its unicameral parliament.

Al Jazeera reported that the 2020 performance was the worst for the party since independence. 

As of press time, there are 79 PAP MPs, ten from the opposition bloc of the Workers' Party and Progress Singapore Party, nine crossbenchers nominated by the president as mandated by the Singaporean constitution, and six vacant seats.

READ NEXT: Singapore PM Lee Admits Falling Victim to Online Scam, While Citizens Lose $2 Million Daily

Gan Kim Yong's Appointment is a 'Surprise'

At 51, Wong would be a fresh face in Singaporean leadership, but the choice of Gan, 65, as his principal deputy surprised local political analysts. 

The choice of the principal deputy PM surprised NUS political science assistant professor Elvin Ong. He said that Wong was "prioritizing experience" over "fresh blood" in the short term, referring to the PAP's decision to transition from an older generation of leaders to a younger one. 

Wong and Gan jointly steered the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, with other analysts saying that their good personal working relationship was solidified when they headed a government task force intended to keep Singapore's COVID-19 cases low compared to its ASEAN counterparts while making as few financial setbacks as possible in the process. 

READ MORE: Shell to Sell Oil Refineries and Chemical Assets in Singapore for Less Than $1 Billion

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