SINGAPORE - Seeing Singapore through the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic and handing over the country "intact and in working order" into good hands who will take the country further forward - this is the aim of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as he was sworn in for his ninth term of office.
But leadership renewal is a never-ending task, and Singapore will continue to need more good people from every generation to step forward, stand for elections, and serve the country, he added at a ceremony at the Istana.
Addressing President Halimah Yacob, PM Lee, who was first elected MP in 1984 at the age of 32, said: "Madam President, I have spent my entire adult life in public service. I will continue to devote myself to my country and people, drawing strength and purpose from the support of Singaporeans young and old."
"I ask Singaporeans to extend to the younger ministers the same support that you have given me all these years," he added.
He said that Singapore must have leaders who can take the rough and tumble of politics, and who will commit all their energies to work and fight for what they believe in.
"Only with an exceptional leadership team, working closely with Singaporeans, can we continue to stand out in the world," he said.
Good politics depends not only on sound institutions, but also on high quality political leadership, he said. Singapore, more than other countries, needs capable and committed leaders who have "the courage of their convictions, who command the respect of Singaporeans and who can mobilise the population to achieve great things together", he added.
Following the recent general election, where PM Lee's People's Action Party won 83 out of 93 seats contested with 61.23 per cent of the votes, he said he has formed the strongest Cabinet he could, to take Singapore through the coronavirus crisis and beyond.
The Cabinet formed is a multiracial one, with seven out of 20 full ministers being non-Chinese, which is reflective of Singapore's multiracial society, he said.
He noted that the new Government was sworn in before President Halimah Yacob and Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who both belong to minority communities.
"There can be no more vivid demonstration of how our meritocratic system works, and the lengths we have gone to, to ensure equal treatment and opportunities for every citizen, regardless of race, language or religion," said PM Lee.
The Cabinet also includes office holders from successive generations, with the more senior ones having seen Singapore through past crises and can offer valuable guidance and views, he said.
The younger ministers are increasingly taking the lead, setting the agenda and engaging Singaporeans, he said. "They have also been leading our Covid-19 response, and gained confidence dealing with the complex challenges of the pandemic."
"The new office holders will bring with them fresh ideas and perspectives, and work hard to master the issues. It is a team that Singaporeans can be confident in, and one that will walk with you every step of the way."