• Friday, July 19, 2024

ASIA

Indian-origin Shanmugaratnam officially in race for Singapore president post

The former deputy prime minister of the city state is in the fray along with two Chinese-origin former business executives.

Tharman Shanmugaratnam in 2021. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

SINGAPORE-BORN Indian-origin minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was on Tuesday (22) officially announced as a candidate for the prosperous city-state’s presidential election on September 1, along with two Chinese-origin former business executives.

The 66-year-old Tharman, a former deputy prime minister of Singapore; investment chief of state-owned company Ng Kok Song, 75, and former head of the state-run insurance company Tan Kin Lian, 75, were officially announced as candidates by the Elections Department (ELD) for Singapore’s highest but non-political post.

As the three have been officially announced as candidates, they cannot pull out of the race without forfeiting their election deposits of SGD 40,500 each, according to a report by The Straits Times newspaper.

The three men, each vying to become Singapore’s ninth president, can officially begin campaigning, which will end on August 30.

The cooling-off day is on August 31, and the Polling Day is on September 1.

The incumbent president Halimah Yacob’s six-year term will end on September 13.

In his speech after the nomination, Tharman, a former senior minister in the ruling People’s Action Party Government, said he looked forward to a dignified and honourable contest, focused on what each candidate brings to Singaporeans and what each of them brings to the country’s future.

“Let’s look forward to a campaign, which is dignified and honourable, and a campaign which itself seeks to unite Singaporeans and not divide us,” he said. Tharman later told the media that he was running for the presidency not on the basis of new positions or statements but on the basis of a long-held purpose in his life.

“I believe in a fairer, more compassionate and more inclusive society. And my life is dedicated to that. Singapore can be special,” the report quoted Tharman as saying.

Tharman, who resigned from all political and public offices in July to contest for the presidency, said, “It is our future that we are concerned about” and that it will be “a different future”.

“It will be a more difficult and challenging future that we face, which is the reason why I have entered this contest to offer all my experience and capabilities on the ground for a few decades nationally and internationally,” Channel News Asia quoted Tharman as saying. “So that I can serve Singaporeans in the role of President with all my heart in the years to come,” he added.

Tharman was an economist and civil servant, mainly at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, before joining politics in 2001. He served as minister for education and finance and was the deputy prime minister from 2011 to 2019.

Ng, who introduced himself in Chinese, Malay and Tamil, said he was standing for president to protect Singapore’s three national treasures -the reserves, public service appointments and social stability.

“I feel I’m on a mission to really serve the people of Singapore. So, I feel excited that the people of Singapore are giving me this opportunity to serve my country one more time,” he said.

Tan said he wanted to give the people of Singapore “a chance to vote for a president who is truly independent of the ruling government”, and if elected, will carry out his duties, as set out in the Constitution, diligently, honestly, and to the best of his ability.

“These duties are to safeguard the reserves and uphold the integrity of the public service. I ask for your support so that I can do my best for the people,” he said.

Though a non-political office, the president is responsible for several critical functions in the city-state, including key state appointments and guarding the national reserves that the government of the day can only use with presidential consensus.

(With PTI inputs)

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