04/15/2024, 17.41
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Lee Hsien Loong to step down, Lawrence Wong to be sworn next month

by Angeline Tan

Chosen by his party two years ago, Wong will be the fourth prime minister since Singapore's independence. Outgoing PM Lee had already announced his retirement but the pandemic changed his plans. Wong is already implementing new policies for seniors.


Singapore (AsiaNews) – In Singapore the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced today that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will step down on 15 May handing over power to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Premier Lawrence Wong.

The swearing-in ceremony will take place at 8 pm at the Istana, the official residence and office of the president of Singapore, making Wong Singapore’s fourth prime minister since the city-state attained independence.

“Lawrence and the 4G team (fourth generation leadership team) have worked hard to gain the people’s trust, notably during the pandemic,” Lee wrote in Facebook.

“Through the Forward Singapore exercise, they have worked with many Singaporeans to refresh our social compact and develop the national agenda for a new generation.”

Lee had originally expressed his intention to retire before his 70th birthday in February 2022, but COVID-19 forced a change of plans.

He came to power in 2004, replacing Goh Chok Tong who took office in 1990. Before that, Lee Kuan Yew served as Singapore’s prime minister for more than 30 years, from 1959 to 1990.

In April 2022, the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) selected Wong to replace Lee; the latter, at the party’s biennial convention in November 2023, said he hopes to hand over the job to Wong before the next general election, in November 2025.

Wong entered politics in 2011, serving in different cabinet posts, including minister of Education, Defence and National Development.

In June 2022 he launched Forward Singapore, with a report on what policies the government should promote in the coming years through citizens’ participation.

According to experts, the 4G team will go further than the policies pursued by its predecessors, introducing important changes, such as unemployment assistance.

Last February, Wong announced that the government would earmark S.5 billion (US$ 2.6 billion) over the next decade for Singapore’s seniors so that they can remain active, have access to better care options, and live more independently in the community.

Infrastructure for commuters will also be improved, with a focus on the needs of seniors in this area as well.

“With a rapidly aging population, the fiscal pressures of healthcare will only grow. As a responsible government, we have to plan ahead and set aside sufficient resources to keep healthcare affordable for all,” Wong stated at that time.

In Singapore, about one in four Singapore citizens will be aged 65 or over by 2030, compared to about one in five now.

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