Lawrence Wong promoted to Deputy Prime Minister as part of Singapore Cabinet changes

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong's appointment as Deputy Prime Minister comes two months after he was named leader of PAP's 4G team. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FINANCE

SINGAPORE - Finance Minister Lawrence Wong will be promoted to Deputy Prime Minister from June 13, in a move that cements his standing as the successor to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The announcement comes two months after Mr Wong, 49, was endorsed by his peers as the leader of the People's Action Party's (PAP) fourth-generation team.

He will be the Acting Prime Minister in the absence of PM Lee, 70.

Remote video URL

Mr Wong will also continue as Minister for Finance, and assume responsibility for the Strategy Group within the Prime Minister's Office, taking over this role from Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

The Strategy Group oversees key priorities and issues facing Singapore over the medium to long term, such as population and climate change.

Mr Heng, 61, will remain as Deputy Prime Minister.

He will also continue as Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, and oversee the Future Economy Council as well as assist PM Lee in overseeing the National Research Foundation and Productivity Fund Administration Board.

PM Lee said in a Facebook post on Monday (June 6): "The next generation leadership is taking shape. I ask everyone to give your full support to this important transition, to steer Singapore safely out of the pandemic and into a brighter future."

After the announcement, Mr Wong said in a Facebook post that when he was asked by his fellow 4G ministers to lead the team, he knew he would be taking on what would possibly be the biggest responsibility of his life.

Reiterating the commitment he made when he was chosen to lead the team, he said: "As I've said before, I will do my best and give every ounce of my strength to serve Singapore and Singaporeans. In turn, I seek your support, as I take on my latest appointment as DPM, and take another step forward in embracing my new responsibilities.

"I look forward to walking this journey with all of you, and working with everyone - to steer Singapore through the many challenges we are facing today, and to chart our new way forward together for a better tomorrow."

DPM Heng, in a separate Facebook post, pledged to work with Mr Wong.

"We took another important step towards leadership renewal today, with the appointment of Lawrence Wong as DPM," he said.

"Lawrence has our fullest support. I will give my all to help him succeed, while serving alongside him as DPM and as Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies."

The Cabinet changes, announced by the Prime Minister's Office, move Singapore's leadership transition process further along, after it hit a snag when Mr Heng stepped aside as leader of the 4G team in April last year.

The Cabinet has traditionally had two deputy prime minsters since the 1980s, with the exception of a short period in the 1990s when PM Lee was the only DPM on board, and since May 2019, when DPM Heng was the only person holding the post.

Besides Mr Wong's promotion, eight office-holders will be promoted or given new portfolios and responsibilities.

Minister of State for National Development, and Communications and Information Tan Kiat How will be promoted to Senior Minister of State.

Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth and Social and Family Development Eric Chua will be promoted to Senior Parliamentary Secretary.

Parliamentary Secretary Rahayu Mahzam will also be promoted to Senior Parliamentary Secretary. She will remain at the Ministry of Health and take up a new appointment in the Ministry of Law, and relinquish her appointment at the Ministry of Communications and Information.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat, who joined the labour movement last year, will relinquish his role as deputy secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress and return to Government full-time. He will be given an additional portfolio in the Ministry of Finance.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health Koh Poh Koon will give up his Health portfolio and join the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment.

Minister of State for Social and Family Development and Education Sun Xueling will relinquish her Education portfolio and join the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Minister of State for Home Affairs and Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan will relinquish both portfolios. He will be appointed Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, and take on Mr Chee's role in the labour movement.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng will take on an additional portfolio in the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment.

The latest changes come a year after seven 4G ministers were given new roles in a major reshuffle in May 2021.

At that time, Mr Wong was given the key finance portfolio.

In April this year, PM Lee announced that Mr Wong had been selected as leader of the 4G team by his peers and that Cabinet ministers had affirmed the choice.

The decision was then endorsed by all PAP MPs in a party caucus.

Remote video URL

Mr Wong was a senior civil servant before contesting the 2011 General Election, and became minister of state for defence and education. He was acting minister for culture, community and youth in 2012, and promoted to full minister in 2014.

He became national development minister in 2015, took on an additional role as second minister for finance in 2016, and was made education minister after the 2020 General Election. He became finance minister in May last year.

Others in the PAP 4G team also expressed support for Mr Wong.

In a Facebook post, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said: "With promotion certainly comes greater responsibilities, and as a team, we are always ready to lean in and support one another."

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin thanked Mr Wong and the other office-holders for "leading and making a difference".

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