PM Lee is a “tremendous supporter of Police and the Home Team”: Shanmugam

Source: Singapore Police Force's Facebook

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is a “tremendous supporter of Police and the Home Team”.  

He was speaking at an event at the Senior Police Officers’ Mess on April 17, 2024 which was held to honour PM Lee, who will mark the end of his 20-year tenure on May 15 when he hands over the reins to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong. 

Making his first public appearance since the handover announcement on April 15, PM Lee received the Temasek Sword – the highest honour bestowed by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) – from Commissioner of Police Hoong Wee Teck. 

Below is a transcript of Minister Shanmugam’s doorstop interview at the sidelines of the Singapore Police Force dining-in with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Senior Police Officers’ Mess on April 17, 2024.  

PM is in politics out of a deep sense of obligation to Singaporeans: K Shanmugam 

This is a Dining-In for the Prime Minister, to thank him on behalf of the Police Force for his tremendous support. This was fixed before the news came out that he is going to handover. So, I’ll take the opportunity to speak a little bit about PM Lee.  

PM has spent almost the entirety of his public life in service to Singapore and Singaporeans.  

And I know, having worked with him now for 16 years as a Minister in his Cabinet, it is a deep sense of duty. I don’t think he spends much time thinking about anything unrelated to Singapore. His focus is on our challenges, our problems, what we need to do, and so on.  

And he is probably our most popular politician, because Singaporeans know that this man is not in politics because he likes power or looking to be rewarded. He is in politics out of a deep sense of obligation to Singaporeans.  

We all know he is brilliant. People who know his record know that he was a Senior Wrangler in Cambridge. You know, the difference between him and the number two, in one of the most difficult exams, was greater than number two and the person at the bottom. That’s how good he was. And his preference would have been, to have gone on to be in the field of mathematics, and possibly would have had a chance of winning the Fields Medal, and so on.  

But he came back, out of a deep sense of obligation.  

PM understands the technicalities across different fields: Shanmugam 

And he has a once in a generation mind. I think we have been incredibly lucky to have had him as Prime Minister.  

I have had many dealings (with him) – I know my constitutional law, I know my public law, and when I discuss with the Prime Minister, on very technical issues, he is often a step ahead – sometimes more than a step ahead.  

He understands all the technicalities, practical issues, and across the different fields – whether economics, science, technology, structuring, social issues, anything you think of – he’s well on top of it. More than most of the officials. And on top of every brief. 

For example, during the pandemic, there was a recent inquiry in the UK, where the Chief Medical Advisor or someone gave evidence that the European medical scientists would have regular consultations with each other, and they said their Ministers and Prime Ministers didn’t understand any of the mathematics or the science behind it. Everybody laughed because that was the case for all or many of the politicians in Europe. But I can tell you, having been in Cabinet during that entire period, the PM was the one who was correcting the math and the science, and asking the questions. He knew the answers. When the experts came to him, he knew more than the experts.  

Great privilege to have worked with PM who is a good man: Shanmugam 

PM Lee Hsien Loong (right) receiving the Temasek Sword – the highest honour bestowed by the Singapore Police Force – from Commissioner of Police Hoong Wee Teck. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission. 

So if you look at the 20 years that he has been the Prime Minister, our GDP has gone up fourfold. We have gone through the Great Financial Crisis in 2008 and 2009, we have gone through the pandemic, we’ve gone through so many ups and downs, but Singapore has sailed through relatively unscathed. Compare this with around the world – there is a reason why Singapore is different.  

For me, it is a great privilege to have worked with such a person who is not only brilliant, but as a person, a really wonderful human being. I think people sense this. I think what impresses most people about him, beyond all of this, is the profound sense that one gets after working with him for so many years. Something really very simple.  

He is above all, a very good man. A good man.  

I will also say a big thank you on behalf of the Home Team and the Police Force, because he has been a tremendous supporter of Police and the Home Team as a whole. And he has always been very clear on the importance of making sure that people live in a safe and good environment.