Tharman Shanmugaratnam handed over EDB’s IAC Baton to DPM Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE: On his last official day as a political office-holder, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam handed over another of his roles to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

DPM Lawrence Wong will take over as chairman of the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) International Advisory Council (IAC) from Saturday.

Mr. Tharman, who also serves as Coordinating Minister for Social Policy, is retiring from politics to contest the 2023 Singaporean Presidential Election, and his departure has strengthened Mr. Wong’s portfolio.

Earlier, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced that Mr. Wong would succeed Mr Tharman as the central bank’s chairman, and today (7 July), the Economic Development Board (EDB) revealed that Mr Wong will replace Mr. Tharman as chairman of the International Advisory Council (IAC) from Saturday (8 July).

As the leader of the ruling party’s fourth-generation (4G) cohort, Mr Wong has been designated as the future successor of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Interestingly, Mr. Tharman has largely been considered the “people’s choice” for Prime Minister, with some lamenting the fact that the Senior Minister has decided to make a bid for the largely ceremonial role of the President instead of taking what people believe to be his “rightful” place as Singapore’s next Prime Minister.

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Mr Tharman has been IAC chairman for close to a decade, since 2014.

The EDB said today that during his nine-year term, Singapore had solidified its status as a reliable, inclusive, and adaptable center for finance, skilled professionals, and data. The nation’s economy has rebounded remarkably from the pandemic, with businesses expressing trust in Singapore as an ideal investment destination amidst an increasingly uncertain global landscape.

Under Mr. Tharman’s leadership, Singapore has also placed greater emphasis on fostering connections within Southeast Asia, cultivating world-class ventures based in Singapore, and creating innovative solutions for decarbonization.

EDB added that collaborations with businesses and governments have been instrumental in advocating for an open global economy, particularly in the face of a slowdown in globalization.

SM Tharman said: “We are seeing growing headwinds against globalization. To continue creating good jobs for Singaporeans, Singapore must keep deepening its value proposition to global firms, and grow leading businesses and spinoffs from Singapore.

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Our IAC members have enriched our discussions on how Singapore should evolve its strategies in a more challenging environment.”

On his new appointment as IAC Chairman, Mr Wong said: “Over the past three decades, the IAC has provided EDB and Singapore with useful perspectives and recommendations to strengthen our economy. We are continuing to grapple with rapid changes in the global economy, including the trends of rising protectionism, shifting supply chains as well as rapid technological advances.”

He added, “I look forward to exchanging insights with IAC members on addressing these opportunities and challenges, as we continue to hone Singapore’s economic strategies for the future.”

Mr Wong will chair the 21st meeting of the IAC, to be held in November 2023.

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