SINGAPORE, April 16 — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has agreed to continue serving as Senior Minister in the upcoming new Cabinet, which would only see major changes after the next General Election (GE), said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

“For this moment, though, there should not be any major changes because our system works on the basis of continuity and progressive change,” Wong told reporters today.

Wong, who is also Finance Minister, was speaking to the media for the first time since the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday announced that he will officially be taking over the country’s leadership reins from Lee in a month’s time on May 15.

Wong today said that a new Cabinet will be sworn in together with him that day, and the actual lineup will be unveiled a few days before, with a few possible promotions to be expected, including that of backbencher Members of Parliament (MPs).


‘Never been the case’ older ministers step down with PM

Wong said today that “it has never been the case” in Singapore where all older ministers step down at the same time whenever there is a leadership transition.

“Instead, they continued to contribute in different ways while making room for the younger ones to step up,” he said.


Wong said he will adopt a similar approach, and he is “glad” that Lee — who has led Singapore for 20 years — has agreed when asked to continue serving in the Cabinet as Senior Minister.

“The other ministers will continue to serve in their respective portfolios. In fact, some of them were just appointed recently, so there's really no reason to change,” said Wong, adding that the Government also has a full agenda for the rest of its current term.

He said that he is still in the process of engaging the ministers individually as he would have to take into account their considerations and what they would like to do as part of the team.

Wong said that the “bigger changes to the Cabinet line-up will likely happen only after the next General Election” — due by November 2025 — as he “would not be able to bring in people from outside to join the team” until then.

“In fact, I'm already in the midst of looking for new candidates, especially those with potential to hold political office,” he said.

Political analysts have told TODAY that scouting for new talents, even for a fifth-generation Prime Minister candidate, would be high on Wong’s priority from the “get go” as Singapore's fourth Prime Minister.

The last major Cabinet reshuffle was in June 2022, which saw Wong promoted to Deputy Prime Minister.

Asked to elaborate on his considerations for the Cabinet line-up, Wong said that he wants some continuity to “build on what we have today” and “reinforce what works well”.

“But I also want change because we should re-examine and refresh our current approaches and be prepared to break new ground in order to adapt more effectively to a rapidly changing environment,” he added.

Eventually, Wong said he wants a “good balance” between experienced ministers and new Cabinet members with fresh perspectives.

“For now, the broad shape of the team remains intact,” said Wong, adding that Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean will also remain in Cabinet after the handover.

“Depending on the outcome of the General Election, there will be an opportunity to renew and strengthen the team with new members. And this will be one of my key priorities, which is to form the best possible team to serve Singapore and Singaporeans.”

Ready for GE at press of a button

Wong was also asked today whether the People’s Action Party (PAP) conference and 70th anniversary this November would impact the GE timing and if the conference would be an occasion to rally and take stock of support for the party.

In response, Wong, who is also deputy secretary-general of the ruling party, said that party conference and general elections are “two different things altogether”.

He said that preparations for the next GE “starts the day after the last election”.

“We have to consistently tend to the ground, attend to the needs of residents and strive to win over their hearts and minds,” said Wong.

“And if we do that, if all our branches do that, then we really don't have to anticipate or second guess when the elections are called because whenever the button is pressed, we will be ready for the campaign.”

He also thanked Cabinet members and MPs for placing their confidence in him as their next leader, and paid tribute to PM Lee.

“I stand on the shoulders of giants and one in particular stands out, and that's Lee Hsien Loong,” said Wong.

He noted that Singapore’s economy has grown tremendously under Lee’s leadership, with Singaporeans enjoying steady improvements in their income and standard of living.

The nation has also weathered many crises and emerged stronger each time, with its international standing and the “Singapore brand” strengthening.

“So on behalf of all Singaporeans, I thank Lee Hsien Loong for his selfless service to our country, and lasting contributions to Singapore.” — TODAY