'Integrity, commitment, conviction': Ministers congratulate Lawrence Wong on being chosen as 4G leader

(From left) Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and Education Minister Chan Chun Sing in May last year. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Cabinet ministers and members of the ruling People's Action Party on Thursday (April 14) offered their congratulations and support to Finance Minister Lawrence Wong who was endorsed as the leader of the party's fourth-generation (4G) team.

They spoke of their experience working with the man who is now effectively the heir apparent to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

PM Lee announced on Thursday evening that Cabinet ministers have affirmed their choice of Mr Wong, 49, as the new leader of the 4G team, a decision later endorsed by all PAP MPs.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who had been slated to take over the reins before he stepped aside in April last year for a younger leader with a longer runway, wrote on Facebook that he was glad that Mr Wong has accepted the responsibility.

"What we need is a next leader who has the well-being of Singaporeans and Singapore at heart, who has the integrity and commitment to serve, and the ability to forge new paths and bring people together. I believe that Lawrence has these qualities," said Mr Heng, 61.

Mr Heng said he has found Mr Wong to be a leader who considers things carefully, is able to bring people together, and has the conviction to do what is right for Singapore.

"As importantly, Lawrence has the runway to eventually succeed PM. We have had a challenging few years. In the coming years, we will need to navigate even more changes that will affect Singaporeans," he added.

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said he deeply appreciated the camaraderie he shared with Mr Wong over their years in politics together, and that he looks forward to continue working closely with him and the rest of the team to tackle the challenges facing Singapore.

"While Singapore is cautiously emerging from the worst of the pandemic, there remain many geopolitical and economic uncertainties and social challenges that we have to overcome together," said Mr Chan.

"The 4G team will continue to work closely together with Singaporeans to improve their lives while seizing opportunities to leave behind a better Singapore for future generations."

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung also congratulated Mr Wong on his selection and endorsement as the leader of the PAP's 4G team. He said that it was clear since the start of the succession planning process that the goal is to select someone who can bring out the best in the team to collectively serve Singapore.

"We now have a good outcome," said Mr Ong, who noted that he has known Mr Wong since they were both principal private secretaries to PM Lee, and later as Cabinet colleagues and co-chairs of the multi-ministry taskforce tackling Covid-19.

"I have worked with him up-close and witnessed his dedication and commitment to Singapore and Singaporeans," said Mr Ong. "He puts his heart and soul into what he is doing and is never a seeker of credit or fanfare."

Mr Ong added that he will do his utmost to support Mr Wong, and looks forward to being part of his team.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee thanked Mr Wong for stepping forward and taking up the responsibility of leadership, and called on the team to continue working hard for Singapore.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin wrote: "May our leaders and team be blessed with wisdom, courage and love. May we all be united as we continue to strive as one people, one nation."

Mr Wong also received a strong endorsement from Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who called him an excellent leader for a changing Singapore.

He cited the challenges of holding a country together in a troubled world while making room for different and new voices, and the unending work of making life better for ordinary citizens.

“He is down to earth, has his heart in the right place, and has the steel to make tough decisions,” said SM Tharman.

“And knowing Lawrence, I’m sure he will earn the trust of Singaporeans in his own way and be a PM with his own character.“That must be the case - each future leader must be their own man or woman.”

Remote video URL

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.