15/05/2024 11:18 PM

SINGAPORE, May 15 (Bernama) -- Newly-minted Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said his government will strengthen partnerships “near and far” while advancing the nation’s interests in the backdrop of rising rivalry and tension in the international sphere.

Wong, 51, in his maiden speech after being sworn in as the country’s head of government at the Istana, said Singapore will also continue engaging with both the US and China, even as issues inevitably arise between them.

“We now 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 tension, as well as protectionism and rampant nationalism everywhere. It will likely stretch for years, if not decades,” Wong said, adding that Singapore seeks to be friends with all while upholding its rights and interests.

Wong said as a small country, Singapore cannot escape powerful cross currents, thus it must brace and adapt to a messier, riskier and more violent world in the future.

The prime minister said Singapore is no stranger to tough external circumstances and have successfully weathered the storm and even emerged stronger due to the people’s high level of trust and their ability to work well together.

Wong speaking in Malay, Mandarin and English, also pledged to serve the people of Singapore and to seek their support and trust as he and his team embark on a new journey to bring Singapore forward.

“We will lead in our own way. We will continue to think boldly and far. There are many more pages to write and the best chapters of Singapore stories lie ahead,” he said.

Wong said as the prime minister, one of his key priorities is to identify and persuade younger Singaporeans, both men and women in their 30s and 40s, to join the team that can help make a difference and provide the citizens with a government they deserve.

The premier also paid tribute to his predecessors, including the third prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, who now serves in his Cabinet as Senior Minister. Wong, succeeds Lee, 72, who led the nation for nearly 20 years.

“Under his stewardship, Singapore navigated external domestic changes and overcame multiple crises. We owe him a great depth of gratitude,” he said, which received a round of applause from the crowd.

Earlier, Wong and his Cabinet were sworn in at a ceremony presided by President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and witnessed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, marking the official beginning of Singapore’s fourth generation (4G) leadership.

Meanwhile, the President, in his speech, thanked Lee for his exceptional leadership and life dedicated to serving the country, especially during the financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In 2004, when Mr Lee was sworn in, he promised to ‘be a Prime Minister for all Singaporeans’, and to leave no one behind. He delivered on this promise,” Tharman said.

In welcoming the new prime minister, the President said he has full confidence in Wong’s ability to lead Singapore and to create the next chapter of the Singapore story.

“As President, I am committed to working with the Prime Minister and his government,” he added.




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