Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong was the guest on the latest episode of Channel 8’s infotainment series “Be My Guest” that aired on Jun 11, 2022.
The leader of the 4G team touched on a myriad of topics: from his formative years in Marine Parade to his work in the civil service, to being appointed the leader of the PAP 4G team.
Here are several things that we learnt:
1. He’s not bad at football
During a kick-about with students from his alma mater Tanjong Katong Secondary School (previously Tanjong Katong Secondary Technical School), DPM Wong scored a goal, eliciting cheers from the spectators.
“I often played football with my friends when I was in secondary school,” he told host Ms Tung Soo Hua – even though his CCAs then were table tennis and computer club.
Why? Because he could only play table tennis during CCA hours.
“So if I wanted to play with my friends, football would be most convenient.”
He added that he played football during break times and would go back to class all sweaty. Despite the displeasure of his teachers, they continued anyway.
2. A pragmatic person
Ms Tung quipped that people have the impression that those on government scholarships are usually from top schools but that was not the case for DPM Wong. She then asked whether he had any particular reasons for selecting this school.
“No particular reason, actually… My brother and cousins, who studied in Haig Boys’ Primary chose to go Tanjong Katong Secondary School. Most of my friends made the same choice. So I didn’t have other schools in mind. Now that I think about it, it was a great decision… Even though I went to a neighbourhood school near home, there’s no doubt I got a great education,” he answered.
3. He put in a lot of effort to improve his Chinese
As he grew up in a household where his parents spoke English and Malay, DPM Wong readily admitted that his Chinese wasn’t great.
“It’s been a big challenge for me since I was little. I didn’t get to speak Mandarin at home. My dad grew up in Malaysia and my mum grew up in a Malay kampung in Singapore. They spoke English and Malay at home. So learning Chinese in school was tough for me. I had to work very hard.”
Despite all that, his O level Chinese result was quite good, due in part of him “memorising”, he said sheepishly.
Being in politics put him in a position where he needed to speak more Mandarin – an opportunity that he cherished.
He then urged parents to encourage their children to learn Chinese to be exposed to culture and tradition.
“You never know when your proficiency in Chinese will come in handy. Take me for instance: having the chance to be converse in Mandarin with you on Channel 8,” he joked.
4. He’s quite the guitar hero
This needs no introduction since we have seen DPM Wong performed live with his electric guitar before. It’s still worth a mention that he mesmerised the students with a guitar performance during music lesson.
But did you know, he busked in America when he was studying there?
“I took my guitar with me when I went to the US for my uni studies. Turns out that my room-mate also was fond of playing the guitar. The two of us often performed in public. Playing the guitar remains my passion. When I’m free or when I need to de-stress, I will play the guitar at home.” he said.
5. A solid foundation built by his mum
DPM Wong described his mum as “rather strict” and instilled the value of responsibility in him and his brother.
“She instilled into us a sense of responsibility. We learnt the importance of responsibility when we were little.”
6. Love for doggos
His love for dogs started when he was a kid but wasn’t able to keep one. So he only had his first dog after he got back from his university education in US.
“But she’s gone now. So now I play with other people’s dogs. My pet dog was a golden retriever.”
He added that there will be a dog run in his Limbang ward in the future.
7. His Hainan roots
DPM Wong spent weekends when he’s free taking walks at different parks and usually visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens or MacRitchie Reservoir but also venture to newer parks recently.
“My wife and I recently visited the Thomson Nature Park. It’s an interesting place and we saw the ruins of a Hainan village that dates back to the 1930s. I’m Hainanese so it was rather fascinating. People go there to exercise and they can also find out more about its history and culture through the signs and pictures provided.”
8. Bosses that influenced him
On the people who influenced him, DPM Wong cited his former bosses Mr Khaw Boon Wan and Mr Lim Siong Guan.
“I’m fortunate that after joining the public service, I met many good bosses who gave me good advice and help.
“The first boss was Khaw Boon Wan, who was then Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Trade and Industry. A lot of people now say that Khaw Boon Wan is Mr Fix-it but actually he was very capable of fixing things then already. That’s because when he solves things, he is very good at grasping what the main point is. Plus, he’s a good communicator: he uses simple terms to explain complex policies.
“The second boss was Lim Siong Guan, who was then Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Finance. He insists that every organisation needs to have a good system and an efficient sequence of processes. And he values employees’ growth, especially giving younger employees plenty of opportunities.
“So I learnt a great deal from these two seniors.”
9. The 4G team – it’s like being in a band.
At the last segment, Ms Tung asked him what was his first thought when he found out he was chosen to lead the 4G team.
“The first thought was that it is a tremendous responsibility. A tough task for sure. I told my colleagues that if they think I’m the best candidate, then I’m happy to step up and do my best. They trust me and I don’t wish to let them down. We are a team that work together and I need the support of my team members. Everyone does their part and we will work hard together to strive for the best.”
He then used a band analogy to describe his relationship with the rest of the 4G team.
“Everyone in the 4G team has their own expertise. Everyone is crucial to the team. We fought the pandemic together the past two years. We’ve built incredible rapport and a strong bond. We know one another’s strengths and how to work with one another to achieve the best results. It’s like being in a band – not everyone can be the lead vocalist, you need a pianist, guitarist, drummer. Everyone has their own role to play. But we also need to work together to play a great piece of music. I place great importance on every team member’s contributions. Their feedback and views matter to me.”
10. The kind of PM he will be
As a parting question, Ms Tung asked what kind of Prime Minister he will be. DPM Wong prefers to talk about the tasks at hand but said that he will continue to work hard to represent all Singaporeans.
“I will continue to strive hard to become a leader that represents every Singaporean to the best of my ability. I will humbly listen to everyone’s feedback that embody the hopes and dreams of every race. I look forward to working with the people to build a better Singapore.”
You can watch the full video here.
Cover photo credit: Lawrence Wong Facebook page