SINGAPORE -- Singapore Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong promoted his finance minister as his deputy in a succession plan. However, the timing of the handover remains unclear.
His office announced Tuesday that Lawrence Wong (49), would be acting prime minister in Lee's absence. This was part of a Cabinet reshuffle. It said that Wong will continue to hold his finance portfolio and will act as acting prime minister in Lee’s absence.
"The next generation of leadership is emerging. Lee posted on Facebook, "I ask you all to support this important transition to steer Singapore out of the pandemic"
Lee, aged 70, stated that Wong would assume the reins before or after 2025 general elections. Lee's People's Action Party was one of the longest-serving parties in the world, but saw its worst electoral performance in 2020. It retained its supermajority, but it lost some seats and saw its support slip.
Heng Sweekeat, who was the finance minister at the time and had been expected to succeed Lee, resigned his nomination following the 2020 election results. Wong assumed the role of finance minister in May 2021, and was chosen by the PAP as Lee's likely successor in April.
Wong was a prominent figure in Singapore's fight against COVID-19 and will now be the fourth leader of the city-state since 1965.
He was a civil servant and worked in many ministries. From 2005 to 2008, he was Lee's principal private secretary and CEO of the Energy Market Authority from 2008 to 2011. He entered politics only in the 2011 general election.
Wong stated that being Singapore's next leader was "the greatest responsibility of my entire life."
He wrote, "I would do all I could to serve Singaporeans and Singaporeans," on Facebook.