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Lee Hsien Loong becomes prime minister of Singapore 12th Aug 2004

Lee Hsien Loong was formally sworn in as the third prime minister of Singapore on 12 August 2004, taking over the post from Goh Chok Tong.[1] Lee entered politics when he was elected as member of parliament (MP) for the Teck Ghee constituency following his win in the 1984 parliamentary general election. Since 1991, he has been one of the MPs for the Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC), which was formed after Teck Ghee merged with the Ang Mo Kio and Yio Chu Kang constituencies.[2]

In January 1985, Lee was appointed Minister of State for Defence and Trade and Industry.[3] In February 1986, Lee was appointed Acting Trade and Industry Minister before becoming Minister for Trade and Industry and Second Minister for Defence (Services) in January the following year.[4] In 1990, Lee was appointed deputy prime minister and retained his trade and industry portfolio, while serving concurrently as chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). He was chairman of MAS from January 1998 until August 2004 when he became prime minister.[5] In November 2001, Lee was appointed Minister for Finance while he was still deputy prime minister. He relinquished the finance minister post on 30 November 2007.[6]

Aside from political appointments in the cabinet, Lee also headed two high-level committees that looked into the restructuring of Singapore’s economy. In March 1985, Lee was appointed chairman of the Economic Committee that recommended changes to existing government economic policies to revive the economy during the 1985–86 recession, as well as to foster longer-term growth.[7] Similarly in December 2001, Lee was appointed chairman of the Economic Review Committee to develop a new economic blueprint for Singapore.[8]

Lee’s swearing-in ceremony was held outdoors on the Istana grounds in order to accommodate the  1,400 invited guests.[9] After he was sworn in by then Chief Justice Yong Pung How, Lee gave a speech thanking Goh and inviting Singaporeans to join him in writing the next chapter of Singapore.[10] He also pledged in the speech to be a prime minister for Singaporeans of different ethnic, religious and social backgrounds, and pay extra attention to the needs of the younger generation Singaporeans as well as the less fortunate.[11]

Since becoming prime minister, Lee has launched a series of measures aimed at building an inclusive society and improving the competitiveness of Singapore’s economy. Some of these measures include changes to the education system to ensure that every Singaporean child attains at least a secondary school education, and the establishment of two institutes – The Institute of Water Policy (part of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy) and The Centre for Liveable Cities – to look into transforming the city and living environment.[12] In January 1995, Lee announced a billion-dollar package to provide poor, old and unemployed Singaporeans with jobs and financial assistance. One of the measures introduced under this package was the Community Care (ComCare) fund, which was an endowment fund to strengthen the country’s social safety nets. In 2007, Lee introduced changes to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) and employment laws to address the challenges of an ageing population.[13] As prime minister, Lee also led the People’s Action Party (PAP) to victory in the 2006 and 2011 parliamentary general elections.[14]

1.  Zuraidah Ibrahim. (2004, August 13). Let us shape our future together. The Straits Times, p. 1; Zuraidah Ibrahim. (2004, July 18). August 12: Date for DPM Lee to take over as PMThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Brig-Gen Lee makes an early thank-you call. (1984, December 24). The Straits Times, p. 11; Stronger identity for Ang Mo Kio. (1991, August 10). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Three new MPs to become ministers of state. (1985, January 1). The Straits times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. New faces in the CEC. (1986, November 24). The Straits Times, p. 17; Eugene Yap takes over as deputy whip. (1987, January 29). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Chok Tong announces remaining changes to cabinet. (1990, November 3). The Business Times, p. 16; Ong, C. (1997, December 20). BG Lee is MAS chairman from Jan 1. The Business Times, p. 1; SM Goh takes over as MAS chairman. (2004, August  21). Channel NewsAsia, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. PM gives 7 newcomers top jobs. (2001, November 18). The Straits Times, p. 1; Quah, M. (2007, November 30). Tharman to take over as finance minister. The Business Times, p.1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Committee set up to review economy. (1985, March 14). Singapore Monitor, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. We’ll leave no stone unturned: BG Lee. (2001, December 4). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
9. Lim, L. (2004, August 12). 1,400 to witness Istana swearing-in ceremonyThe Straits Times, p. 1; For everyone present, a piece of history. (2004, August 13). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Join me to write this next chapter. (2004, August 13). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. The Straits Times, 13 Aug 2004, p. 8; ‘The future is full of exciting opportunities which we must together seize.’ (2004, August 13). The Straits Times, p. 8.
12. Lee, U.-W. (2005, August 22). No child will get left behindThe Straits Times, p. 3; Fernandez, W. (2008, June 25). Singapore, ‘living lab’ for citiesThe Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Lim, L. (2005, January 20). PM Lee offers lifelines to old, needy and joblessThe Straits Times, p. 1; Lim, L. (2007, August 20). CPF changes: Better returns, longer wait for minimum sumThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Zuraidah Ibrahim. (2006, May 7). PM gets his strong mandate. The Straits Times, p. 1; Zuraidah Ibrahim. (2011, May 8). 81-6: Workers' Party wins Aljunied GRC; PAP vote share dips to 60.1%. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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