Lawrence Wong

Prime Minister of Singapore since 2024

Lawrence Wong Shyun Tsai (Chinese: 黄循财) (18 December 1972) is a Singaporean politician, economist and former civil servant who has been serving as the fourth prime minister of Singapore since 15 May 2024 and the minister for finance since 2021. A member of the governing People's Action Party, he has been the Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Limbang division of Marsiling–Yew Tee GRC since 2015, and previously the Boon Lay division of West Coast GRC between 2011 and 2015. He is the first prime minister born after Singapore’s independence in 1965.

Lawrence Wong in 2023



Innaugration speech (excerpts) (May 2024)


"In full: Lawrence Wong's first speech as Singapore Prime Minister"

  • My generation's story is the story of independent Singapore. Our lives are testimony to the values that forged our nation: Incorruptibility, meritocracy, multiracialism, justice and equality. These principles are deeply ingrained in all of us.
  • We understand the vital importance of good leadership, political stability and long-term planning. We ourselves are the beneficiaries of the imaginative policies of our founding fathers ... pursued resolutely and patiently over decades. Shaped by these experiences, our leadership style will differ from that of previous generations. We will lead in our own way. We will continue to think boldly and think far.
  • Singapore's position is strong. But the world around us is in flux. For thirty years since the Cold War ended, we enjoyed unprecedented peace and stability in the Asia Pacific. Unfortunately, that era is over. It will not return. Now we face a world of conflict and rivalry. The great powers are competing to shape a new, yet undefined, global order. This transition will be marked by geopolitical tensions, as well as protectionism and rampant nationalism everywhere. It will likely stretch for years if not decades. As a small country, we cannot escape these powerful cross-currents. As an open economy, our livelihoods will be hit when multilateralism fractures. As a diverse society, we will be vulnerable to external influences that tug us in different directions.
  • 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.
  • Singapore has always been a diverse country - many races, many religions, many languages - and more so now than before. Yet we've strengthened our bonds as one people. We have achieved this not by denying our differences, but by embracing them. We have ensured that every community, every religion and every linguistic group, big or small, feels: Included, respected and valued. When issues arise between communities, and from time to time, they will - we do not accentuate our differences. Instead, we accept them. We seek pragmatic compromises and find as much common ground as possible. We do so always in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. This is the ethos that will guide me and my team. This is how we will continue to evolve and strengthen our Singapore identity. It's never about subtracting, but always about adding. It's never about contracting, but always about expanding. So from our diversity, we forge unity.
  • Today, Singapore is at a high economic level, compared to most other countries. By international standards, we have built excellent systems of education, housing, healthcare and transport. But our circumstances are changing, technology is advancing and our population is ageing fast. So we cannot afford to cruise along. We must continue to do our best - to improve, upgrade and transform Singapore. I am convinced we can and we must, do better
  • As Singaporeans, we all know what it means to exceed expectations - to go beyond what others think we are capable of, or even what we ourselves thought we could do. When the going gets tough, we do not crumble. We press on, with faith in our fellow citizens and in Singapore's future.
  • My mission is clear: To continue defying the odds and to sustain this miracle called Singapore. So that we can reach even greater heights. So that we can be a beacon of hope and unity for ourselves and our children.

Interview with the Economist (May 2024)


"Transcript of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong’s Interview with the Economist on 6 May 2024."

  • China certainly looks at the US as trying to contain, encircle, and suppress them, and trying to deny them their rightful place in the world. It is not just the leadership who thinks like that. I think if you talk to a lot of the Chinese officials, they feel the same way, they feel that there is this containment to put China down. There is that sense and for every action, there will be an opposite reaction. And so China you will see, trying to find ways to get out of that containment; to make sure they become technologically self-reliant. At the same time, China has been through phases of their development where they talk about standing up, getting rich and now being strong. They see themselves as a strong country, their time has come and they want to be more assertive in their national interest, including their national interest overseas. But there too, China will have to learn – as all big countries do – that if they overdo it, if they push their way around, coerce, squeeze or pressurise other countries, it will engender a backlash – including in the region. That is why they cannot go too far, and they will have to learn that lesson – it is a lesson that all big countries go through.
  • With Ukraine and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we were very clear, this was a very egregious breach of the United Nations Charter, a breach of territorial sovereignty and integrity. And if invasions like this can be justified on the basis of historical errors and crazy decisions, the world will be a much less safe place, and we will be very vulnerable. And that is why even though there wasn’t a United Nations Security Council Resolution, we decided to take steps to impose sanctions, which we did. No other ASEAN country has done this; many other countries in the global south have not done this. But we decided to take this step, because it crosses and breaches some very fundamental principles, which we believe in and uphold.
  • Because here in Singapore, you have a majority ethnic Chinese population, we all have links with China. But we have to remind ourselves and also China, that we are Singaporeans, we do business on the basis of our national interests, not on the basis of our ethnic ties. But we also have a Malay population that will have links with countries in the region and with the global Ummah, the wider Islamic community. And we have an Indian population, which will have ancestral links, familial links with India. So it is a population that you can see how can be easily swayed by these influences. Because the links we have going back to these civilizations or larger countries are deep and emotional, they are cultural, and we want to maintain the links, the links make us who we are. We value these linkages. At the same time, we have to continually remind our people, engage with Singaporeans that we are Singaporeans; when we do things, it has to be on the basis of our national interest.
  • My background is what it is. If it is helpful that it makes it more relatable to Singaporeans, so much the better. But I have no doubt like I said just now, Singaporeans are discerning and wise voters, I have no doubt that at the end of the day, they will expect me to deliver on the things that they care about – delivering a better life, delivering better standards of living for themselves and their children. And if me and my team are unable to meet up to those high expectations, if we are unable to deliver those standards, and a better team arises, then Singaporeans will choose accordingly. I have no doubt about that.

Interview with Local Media (May 2024)


"DPM Lawrence Wong's Interview with Local Media (May 2024)"

  • The social compact is in many ways, the essence of the Singapore Story. It is about who we are and the kind of society we want to be. And I believe all Singaporeans would like Singapore to be a place where there are opportunities for everyone to excel, thrive, maximise their potential and be the best possible version of themselves. But everyone is different. We all have different abilities and strengths. We learn at different paces, so recognising that, I think this pursuit of our dream, it is not about comparing with one another and ending up in some endless rat race. But it is really about understanding what our strengths are, what paths each one of us might choose, and in the end, embracing these different, multiple pathways of success.
  • I entered politics because I saw it as a continuation of public service. And I have over the years found my calling in public service. It was not the case when I started out to work, to be fair. When I started working, I was an economist in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. I had been rejected by the Public Service Commission to be in the Administrative Service, so I was not involved in a lot of policy work. My work was largely around economic analysis. I would be the quant, so to speak, or the guy doing all the analytical work; somebody has an issue, you want to analyse what happened to the economy, under these circumstances, there is a regional financial crisis, what is going to happen to Singapore? Well, you ask me the question, I will run my models, I will do the technical number crunching and I will give you the output. That was a lot of the work that I was involved in at the start of my career.
  • Knowing what to do does not mean that the leader must have all the answers, but certainly the leader can listen to advice, get views, but eventually the leader must say this is the way forward, because if you are not even able to articulate and express this way forward, then there is no need for a leader to exist. So knowing what to do is important, but the second part is equally important. You have decided after a process or whatever it is, this is the best way forward. How do you get everyone to come around to agreeing with you and bringing everyone on the same page and say, let us move this way. That is not easy to do too, that requires communication, it requires persuasion, it requires ways to inspire people, engage people, motivate them and get everyone on the same page. A
  • We have a unique Singaporean approach to this, which is that we value every community, big or small and we want to make sure that every community has a place, is respected, is valued and feels a sense of belonging in Singapore. Which means that every community must be able to continue with their customs and traditions, their own ethnic cultures, and never feel like they are excluded from Singapore society. At the same time, we work with all communities to find common ground to see what is it that brings us together as Singaporeans. And we continually work towards evolving and strengthening this sense of Singaporean identity.
  • The external environment is indeed a big concern for us because even as we go about leadership transition and entering our next phase of development, we are doing so at a time when the world is changing, and it is going to be a new global order, which is likely to be very messy and unpredictable, because the world is in flux. The unipolar moment for America has ended. Everybody talks about going into a multipolar world but it is not quite at a stable equilibrium yet. And this period of transition will be very messy, a lot will be marked by nationalism, protectionism, excessive nationalism – nationalism itself is not a bad thing – but excessive nationalism, very aggressive nationalism, protectionism, rivalry between the major powers. The pattern of globalisation that we have benefited from in the last 30 years will also be very different.
  • I am also hopeful because I see many young Singaporeans nowadays certainly much more well informed than I was when I was their age. They read a lot more widely. They get access to all sorts of information, and they are clearer about what they would like to do in life. From the conversations, I get the sense that they would like to contribute not just to their own careers, but they would like to contribute to something larger than themselves, to a larger purpose. And I think that is very meaningful. That is a good and positive sign.
  • I would say that we have come a long way as a country these last 60 years. We have fought incredible odds; we have defied incredible odds to achieve this miracle called Singapore. It is a transformation beyond anyone's imagination. Now, we are in a new phase of Singapore's development. But in fact, the best chapters of the Singapore Story are yet to be written.
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