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Singapore’s new PM Lawrence Wong vows to ‘never settle for status quo’ in inaugural speech as country’s leader

Singapore’s Lawrence Wong vowed to “never settle for the status quo” for his country in his inaugural speech as prime minister after he took the oath of office on Wednesday night, in only the third leadership change the city state has witnessed since independence, as he signalled a desire to chart his own path.

Pledging to do his best at a swearing-in ceremony on the lawn of the Istana, the seat of political power, Wong struck a hopeful note for the future of the island nation as he listed out its strengths of unity, an excellent infrastructure and education system, and a vibrant economy.

But he promised not to be complacent. “We cannot afford to cruise along,” he said, pointing out how Singapore was changing with advancing technology and an ageing society.

“We will have to experiment, discover fresh solutions and blaze new paths. There will be voices that doubt our ability to go further. This scepticism has been with us since the beginning.”

A former government economist, Wong, 51, took the baton from Lee Hsien Loong, 72, who stepped down after two decades in office. Lee’s resignation from the post marked the first time in the country’s post-independence history that no member of the Lee family is helming the office or waiting in the wings. Lee remains in Wong’s cabinet as a senior minister.

His father, the late Lee Kuan Yew, was Singapore’s founding prime minister who led the country for 31 years and transformed the city from a third-world outpost to a first-world hub.

Like most of his colleagues who make up the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) so-called fourth-generation leadership, or the 4G locally, Wong is the first Singapore prime minister born in the country’s post-independence years.

The PAP has governed Singapore