2023 Roundup (Nov-Dec): DPM Lawrence Wong is ready for his next assignment.


In this annual year-end roundup series, Petir.sg looks back at key moments of 2023. 

TOGETHER WITH the rest of Singapore, you will remember what you were doing when you heard the news that sunny Sunday in November: that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will hand over the baton of leadership to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong in 2024, before our Party’s 70th anniversary and before the General Elections. 

“After that, I will be at the new PM’s disposal,” said PM Lee at our Party Convention (Nov 5). “I will go wherever he thinks I can be useful. I will do my best to help him and his team to fight and win the next GE. I want to help him to fulfil his responsibilities leading the country so that Singapore can continue to succeed beyond me and my 3G colleagues, for many years to come.” 

Incoming PM Wong will begin his journey as leader during a difficult time in world history.  

Hot wars across Europe and the Middle East, frosty relations between world superpowers and trade protectionism can not only cause economic hardship. They can pull apart Singapore’s close-knit social fabric, especially when opportunistic Opposition politicians cynically tear at faultlines and make it their mission to divide Singapore along race and class. None of these problems — and none of these people — bode well for any Singaporean. 

“If we become divided, if our society fractures, we are finished. Our tiny island will fall by the wayside — no one will care, no one will come to our rescue,” said DPM Wong, also at the Convention. 

For Singapore’s future 

So what is to be done? 

Hold on to the trust that we as Singaporeans have in each other and in the Government, that’s what. Trust is vital to having a country work well. Not just for the short term, but for the long haul.

“Adopting difficult policies, doing big things in Singapore — they require not only political gumption on our part, but also political support from Singaporeans. Long-term policies only bear fruit say a decade from now, or even a half-century or a century later, as in the case of climate change policies. So they require political durability and consistency to follow through,” said DPM Wong. 

The PAP has been able to do these big things because Singaporeans have given us a strong mandate. This is versus weak governments which constantly focus on just how to survive the next election cycle.   

Plus, as the other instalments of this year’s roundup series have shown, we can trust the PAP to handle difficult times — from finance to childcare to healthcare to corruption to everything else in between — properly for Singaporeans.   

“I firmly believe that for Singapore to weather the challenges ahead, we must hold fast to a common set of values and a common mission,” said DPM Wong. 

Hence his nationwide Forward Singapore exercise, which listens to how different Singaporeans feel about different issues, and which looks to shape consensus during the years ahead.   

This exercise will mark how DPM Wong leads Singapore. 

“I’ve been in Government long enough to know that I cannot please everyone. But I will do my best to explain my decision, to be upfront about the problems and trade-offs, and win the support of the broad majority of Singaporeans,” said DPM Wong.  

“So that will be my approach to leadership. Not accentuating differences, but finding common ground and the things that bind us all as Singaporeans. Not separating and dividing, but keeping us together as one united people.”