SINGAPORE: The Singapore Democratic Party Secretary-General, Dr Chee Soon Juan, has congratulated Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on his impending appointment as Singapore’s next Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on April 15 that he would hand over the country’s leadership to DPM Wong. The latter is set to be sworn in as the country’s fourth Prime Minister on May 15.

Veteran opposition leader Dr Chee took to social media to urge Prime Minister-designate Wong to build a more ‘inclusive and compassionate’ Singapore where all citizens can flourish.

“The SDP congratulates DPM Lawrence Wong on his taking over as Prime Minister on 15 May 2024. 

We look forward to a new and, hopefully, enlightened leadership committed to steering Singapore towards becoming a more democratic, inclusive, and compassionate nation, one in which all Singaporeans can thrive,” expressed the long-serving SDP secretary-general.

A seasoned opposition figure, Dr Chee has been a fixture in Singapore politics since the 1990s.

Having witnessed the country’s ever-evolving political landscape firsthand, the former National University of Singapore lecturer’s entry into the electoral arena began in 1992 against then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in a Marine Parade GRC by-election.

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Former PM Goh had called for a by-election about 16 months after the previous General Elections as he had wanted to seek a ‘political self-renewal’ and get more people of ‘ministerial calibre’ to serve the government.

One candidate who stood in that by-election for the People’s Action Party is Teo Chee Hean, now the Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security.

Marsiling – Yew Tee GRC or West Coast GRC

DPM Wong, who is also the Finance Minister, started his political career in West Coast GRC at the 2011 election (picture below).

Photo: Screengrab Facebook / wcgrc

However, at the next two elections in 2015 and 2020, DPM Wong contested against the SDP at Marsiling—Yew Tee GRC.

In 2015, the SDP garnered 31.27% against PAP’s 68.73%. In the last election in 2020, the PAP team of Deputy PM Wong, Alex Yam, Zaqy Mohamad, and Hany Soh won by 63.18% of the votes compared to SDP’s 36.82%.

In 2020, Bryan Lim, Damanhuri Abas, Khung Wai Yeen, and Benjamin Pwee led the SDP team.

DPM Wong, who previously served the Boon Lay ward (now under Minister for National Development Desmond Lee) in West Coast GRC, revisited the constituency last August.

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Attending a DBS / POSB roadshow in support of the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s Digital for Life campaign, DPM Wong interacted with residents who fondly recalled his time as their member of parliament.

However, there is no clear indication whether DPM Wong, also the Finance Minister, will return to West Coast GRC for the upcoming General Election to strengthen the PAP team.

The PAP West Coast team lost former transport minister and MP S. Iswaran, who resigned as a party member in January after being charged with corruption.

While the general election might be looming, DPM Wong’s immediate priority would be the swearing-in ceremony and forming his new cabinet upon taking office as Prime Minister next month.

During a doorstop media interview on April 16, DPM Wong mentioned, “For this moment, though, there should not be any major changes because our system works on the basis of continuity and progressive change.

It has never been the case that when there is a leadership transition, all the older ministers stepped down at the same time. Instead, they continued to contribute in different ways while making room for the younger ones to step up.”

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DPM Wong added that bigger changes to the cabinet lineup will only likely happen only after the next General Election.

Although DPM Wong remained tight-lipped on when the polls will be held, several political analysts predict it will occur by the year’s end.

“In fact, I am already in the midst of looking for new candidates, especially those with potential to hold political office.

Depending on the outcome of the General Election, there will be an opportunity then to renew and strengthen the team with new members.

This will be one of my key priorities, which is to form the best possible team to serve Singapore and Singaporeans,” explained DPM Wong during the media briefing on April 16.

The next election has to be called by November 2025. In the 2020 General Election, the Workers’ Party retained Hougang SMC, Aljunied GRC and won Sengkang GRC.

Two Progress Singapore Party candidates from West Coast GRC were handed Non-Constituency Member of Parliament seats as the ‘best loser’ in the election.