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Singapore PM Wong’s workload

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Since assuming office last month, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lawrence Wong mentioned on Saturday (Jun 15) that adjusting to a reduced level of personal privacy has been a necessary adaptation for him.

“I suppose I can summarise it as ‘more work, more stress, less privacy’, but I will do my best to adapt and adjust to these new realities,” he said on the sidelines of a community event in Tampines, in response to a question from the source.

Saturday marks one month since Mr. Wong assumed office from his predecessor Lee Hsien Loong, who now serves as Senior Minister within the Cabinet.

“In the past, as a minister, I could still move around without security, wear a cap, and people wouldn’t recognize me as much,” Mr Wong shared.

“Now, even when I wear a cap and mask, people can still recognize me, and there is security presence everywhere, indicating that someone important is around. So, that’s a noticeable change.”

(From left) Assistant Professor Charlene Chen, second advisor to Tampines GRC grassroots organisations, North East District mayor Desmond Choo, Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and the Environment and for Transport Baey Yam Keng, at the Tampines Learning Festival on Jun 15, 2024. PHOTO: CNA

INITIAL COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Mr Wong made these remarks to reporters following his participation in the Tampines Learning Festival, an event aimed at fostering a love for learning among young children and fostering community cohesion.

He mentioned that his visit to Tampines marked the beginning of a series of visits he plans to undertake “over the coming months” to connect with as many Singaporeans as possible.

“All of you know that I’ve just started my introductory visits to countries abroad. I think it’s equally, if not more important, for me to also visit our own districts in Singapore,” he said.

Mr Wong made his first overseas trip this past week, with stops in the capitals of Brunei and Malaysia where he met fellow leaders.

When asked if he plans to visit all constituencies before the next General Election, Mr Wong said such ministerial visits, including by the prime minister, have taken place regularly and are “not tied to a political calendar”.

“The only difference this time is that as a new PM, I think I need to make the extra effort to spend more time on the ground and to spend time across different constituencies. I’ll try to cover as many as I can,” said Mr Wong.

“I think it’s important for me to do so, to be able to engage and interact with Singaporeans directly and also for Singaporeans to get a better sense of who I am as the new prime minister.”

The next General Election is due by November next year.

ENGAGING WITH SINGAPOREANS

Mr Wong said there are currently many platforms through which the government can engage with citizens.

“Of course, I do it on social media. I’ve said I will be engaging the media more regularly. And indirectly through the media, we will also be able to engage with Singaporeans or at least address their concerns,” he said.

He added that government platforms and agencies also provide him and his Cabinet ministers another avenue to engage with Singaporeans.

“I think we are now doing more platforms to engage than ever before, and the platforms to engage are not just to listen and receive feedback, but increasingly also to collaborate and work together,” Mr Wong said at Tampines East Community Club.

“And I truly believe that these platforms for stronger partnerships are important because this is the only way for us to take Singapore forward.”

Despite existing platforms, Mr Wong said it is still important for him as a new PM, to be present and spend time on the ground, not just in his own constituency of Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, but across the country.

“You have feedback on policies, ideas for making your neighbourhood better, I would like to hear these ideas from you and listen to you directly. If you have ground-up initiatives and projects to advance I too would like to hear from you,” he said.

“We want to support you, cooperate, collaborate and work together.”

TAMPINES THE FIRST STOP

Mr Wong told reporters that he was heading for a dialogue session with a group of Tampines grassroots leaders, community volunteers and members of different organisations, after his visit to the festival on Saturday.

On the agenda would be a whole range of issues, some linked to families, parents and children, and others including interests such as green issues.

“That will be the kind of engagements I hope to have across the different constituencies. We try as much as possible for it to be organic,” he said.

“I may visit a market, I may visit a hawker centre, I may engage different groups, I may make use of existing events that are already being organised in the constituency like this learning festival here in Tampines.”

He said the curated dialogue sessions will allow for deeper conversations, although the schedule for the constituency visits is still being worked out.

With Mr Wong on Saturday were Tampines GRC MPs Masagos Zulkifli, who is the Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Desmond Choo, Mayor for the North East District, as well as Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and the Environment and for Transport Baey Yam Keng.

Also present was Nanyang Technological University Assistant Professor Charlene Chen, who is the second advisor to Tampines GRC grassroots organisations.

In the past, Mr Choo and Nee Soon GRC MP Carrie Tan had also been second advisers to grassroots organisations before they became election candidates.

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