In full: Lawrence Wong’s first speech as Singapore Prime Minister


This is not the first time that we’ve had to confront tough external circumstances. We have done so repeatedly over the last six decades. Each time, we have weathered the storms and emerged stronger. The key to our success is our high level of trust in each other and our ability to work well together.

Singapore has always been a diverse country – many races, many religions, many languages – and more so now than before. Yet we’ve strengthened our bonds as one people. We have achieved this not by denying our differences, but by embracing them. We have ensured that every community, every religion and every linguistic group, big or small, feels: Included, respected and valued.

When issues arise between communities, and from time to time, they will – we do not accentuate our differences. Instead, we accept them. We seek pragmatic compromises and find as much common ground as possible.

We do so always in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. This is the ethos that will guide me and my team. This is how we will continue to evolve and strengthen our Singapore identity.

It’s never about subtracting, but always about adding. It’s never about contracting, but always about expanding. So from our diversity, we forge unity.

From many, we become one united people, regardless of race, language, or religion. This collective striving for unity saw us through the COVID pandemic, the crisis of our generation. We responded effectively to the pandemic because we trust one another. The way we dealt with the crisis – together, saving lives and livelihoods – deepened our social capital and made us a better and stronger people.

COVID was a baptism of fire for me and my team. It reinforced my conviction that our exceptional performance as a nation lies not in any one person or any single institution, but in how well we can work together as one Team Singapore. As Prime Minister, I will lead and bear responsibility for the decisions I take.

But I will also engage and maximise the combined energies, imaginations and strengths of all Singaporeans. That is how we will take our nation forward in this dangerous and troubled world.


Today, Singapore is at a high economic level, compared to most other countries. By international standards, we have built excellent systems of education, housing, healthcare and transport. But our circumstances are changing, technology is advancing and our population is ageing fast.

So we cannot afford to cruise along. We must continue to do our best – to improve, upgrade and transform Singapore. I am convinced we can and we must, do better.

This is why I launched the Forward Singapore exercise. We listened to and spoke with many of you; we distilled your aspirations into a shared vision for our future. Forward Singapore represents the ambitions of our generation. It expresses our resolve to keep our society strong and united; to share the benefits of progress with all, not just some; to uplift all Singaporeans, not just a few.

Younger Singaporeans in particular have spoken clearly. They will strive and work hard for their goals. But they do not wish to be trapped in an endless rat race of hyper-competition. They want a refreshed Singapore Dream – one that is not defined by material success alone, but also offers meaning and purpose in their careers and their lives.

I am determined to help Singaporeans realise your dreams.

With our tripartite partners, we will continue to build a vibrant economy and create good jobs for all. We will find new ways to be productive and innovative and achieve a better balance where work is purposeful and life is meaningful. We will foster a fairer, more just and more equal society.

We will look after our seniors, the vulnerable amongst us and those with special needs. We will support all Singaporeans, regardless of their start points age or ability – to uplift themselves and lead fulfilling lives. My team and I will do more in all of these areas.

We need your help too – to support our fellow citizens, and to renew our commitment to each other. Then we can build a Singapore where everyone succeeds in being the best possible versions of themselves. We can be a people, who are more: Inclusive, gracious and big-hearted. We can be a society where every Singaporean matters. And a Singapore that matters to every Singaporean.

These are ambitious goals. There are no easy formulas to apply, no available models to follow. We will have to experiment, discover fresh solutions and blaze new paths.

Along the way, there will be voices that doubt our ability to go further. This scepticism has been with us since the beginning.  Many have said that Singapore won’t make it. Yet time and again, we have proved the doubters wrong. And we will do so again.

As Singaporeans, we all know what it means to exceed expectations – to go beyond what others think we are capable of, or even what we ourselves thought we could do. When the going gets tough, we do not crumble. We press on, with faith in our fellow citizens and in Singapore’s future.

We strive harder, reach further, and prove that with determination and hard work, there is no challenge we cannot overcome. I will bring this same spirit to my new role.

This is my promise to all Singaporeans: I will serve you with all my heart. I will never settle for the status quo. I will always seek better ways to make tomorrow better than today.

My mission is clear: To continue defying the odds and to sustain this miracle called Singapore.

So that we can reach even greater heights. So that we can be a beacon of hope and unity for ourselves and our children.


My fellow Singaporeans, I ask you to join me and my team in our journey forward. Everyone will have a stake in our nation’s progress.

Everyone will play a key role in shaping our future. Let us unite with common purpose and shared resolve.

Let us take Singapore Forward – Together.

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