Lawrence Wong to Prioritize Inflation Fight as Singapore's Next PM

Singapore's long-serving PM Lee Hsien Loong steps down, handing power to deputy Lawrence Wong. Wong faces challenges of tackling inflation, balancing ties with US and China, and ensuring economic prosperity and stability.

Trim Correspondents
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Lawrence Wong to Prioritize Inflation Fight as Singapore's Next PM

Lawrence Wong to Prioritize Inflation Fight as Singapore's Next PM

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who has ruled for 20 years, will step down on May 15 and hand over power to his deputy Lawrence Wong. Wong, 51, who is also the finance minister, will become Singapore's fourth leader since independence in 1965. The leadership transition has been carefully planned in the tightly controlled city-state known for its economic success but also media censorship and use of oppressive laws against dissidents.

Wong gained prominence while helping coordinate Singapore's fight against COVID-19. He credited Lee for the country's strong economic growth and said he was glad that Lee agreed to stay on as senior minister in the cabinet, which will remain largely unchanged until the next general elections due in late 2025. Wong said his immediate priorities will be tackling concerns around jobs, rising cost of living, and taking care of vulnerable groups.

According to a Bloomberg survey, fighting inflation will be the top priority for Wong after taking office. Core inflation in Singapore remains elevated, and the central bank has kept monetary policy tight to blunt imported inflation. The government has also implemented measures to buffer costs for households. Other key priorities include forging friendly ties with the U.S. and China, boosting trade, and balancing employment opportunities for local workers and foreigners.

Why this matters:The leadership change in Singapore comes at a pivotal time as the country grapples with economic challenges posed by global inflationary pressures. Wong's ability to effectively address rising costs of living and steer Singapore's economy will have significant implications for the nation's future prosperity and stability.

Survey respondents expect policy continuity and stability given the well-telegraphed leadership transition. The ruling People's Action Party retained its supermajority in the 2020 general elections, though with a slight decline in support. "I will do my best to continue to build upon the foundation that (Lee) has built and to take Singapore forward in this next phase of our nation-building," Wong said at a news conference.

Key Takeaways

  • Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong to step down on May 15, handing power to deputy Lawrence Wong.
  • Wong, 51, will become Singapore's 4th leader since independence, focusing on inflation, jobs, and cost of living.
  • Wong aims to continue Lee's policies, with policy continuity and stability expected after the transition.
  • Priorities include tackling inflation, forging ties with US and China, and balancing local and foreign workers.
  • Leadership change comes at a pivotal time as Singapore grapples with global economic challenges.