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Singapore’s Lawrence Wong sworn in as new prime minister — the first leadership change in 20 years

SINGAPORE — Singapore's Lawrence Wong was inaugurated as the city-state's fourth prime minister on Wednesday, taking over from former Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who has led Singapore for 20 years.

At the ceremony, the newly minted prime minister said he was "deeply honored" and told Singaporeans that he and his new Cabinet will "do our utmost to serve you and our country."

Wong acknowledged that he, as well as most of his current Cabinet, are the beneficiaries of the Singapore leaders that have come before him, and that they "will continue to think boldly and think far."

Speaking on Singapore's position in the world, Wong said the country's position is strong, "but the world around us is in flux."

He pointed out that the Asia-Pacific region had seen unprecedented peace and stability for 30 years after the Cold War, but said that "unfortunately, that era is over, it will not return."

Wong noted that great world powers are competing to shape a new, yet undefined global order, which will be characterized by geopolitical tensions, protectionism and nationalism.

"We must brace ourselves to these new realities and adapt to a messier, riskier and more violent world," he said.

On the domestic front, Wong highlighted that Singapore is at a high economic level compared with most other countries. The country has developed excellent systems of education, housing, health care and transport, he said.

Singapore, however, cannot cruise along, he warned. "This is my promise to all Singaporeans. I will serve you for all my heart. I will never settle for the status quo. I will always seek better ways to make tomorrow better than today."

Wong concluded his speech by saying, "My mission is clear, to continue defying the odds and to sustain this