Indian-origin senior minister of Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, has announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election in the city-state. After 22 years in active politics, the 66-year-old Mr. Tharman has expressed his intention to step aside and retire from his positions within the government. In addition, he plans to resign from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore since the 1960s.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 2001, represents the Jurong Group Representation Constituencies (Jurong GRC), where candidates from minority communities can join a group led by members from the predominantly Chinese-origin population of Singapore. The presidential election, which must be held by September 13, will now see Tharman Shanmugaratnam as a prominent contender.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in a letter to the Prime Minister, stated that he plans to fulfil his official commitments in Singapore and internationally before stepping down from his various positions.
Channel News Asia quoted Mr. Tharman as saying, “I plan to do so a month from now, on July 7, so that I can first fulfil my immediate official commitments in Singapore and internationally, and ensure that arrangements are fully in place for constituents of Jurong GRC to be well-served for the rest of the electoral term.”
In addition to his decision to retire from active politics, Tharman Shanmugaratnam will also resign from his role as chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), deputy chairman of GIC, chairman of the Economic Development Board’s International Advisory Council, and other ministerial responsibilities he currently holds.
Expressing his gratitude, Mr. Tharman acknowledged feeling “humbled” by the requests he has received from Singaporeans in recent months, urging him to run in the presidential election.
In his letter, he conveyed the difficulty of his decision and shared that he had consulted his family while carefully considering how he can best serve the country in the future. Prime Minister Lee, in his response to Tharman’s letter, expressed his understanding and support for his decision to run for President.
Prime Minister Lee wrote to Tharman, acknowledging that his decision to run for President aligns with the spirit of public service and the sense of duty that Tharman has demonstrated throughout his years of service. He expressed confidence that, if elected President, Tharman would carry out his responsibilities diligently, emphasising his “scrupulous” approach and the independence of mind he has consistently exhibited.
Having pursued economics as his field of study, Mr. Tharman has dedicated a significant portion of his professional career to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s de facto central bank. In 2011, he assumed the role of chairman at MAS, bringing his expertise to the financial institution.
Mr. Tharman’s contributions extend beyond MAS, as he has held prominent positions in Singapore’s government. He served as Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and Education Minister for several years before becoming Senior Minister in May 2019. In his capacity as the Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, he played a key advisory role to the Prime Minister on matters pertaining to economic policies.
On an international scale, Tharman holds influential positions. He chairs the G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance, signifying his involvement in shaping global economic policies. Furthermore, he became the first Asian chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, solidifying his impact in the international financial arena.
Singapore is set to hold its first Presidential Election since 2011, following President Halimah Yacob’s announcement on May 29 that she will not seek a second term. President Halimah, who is 68 years old, currently holds the position of Singapore’s eighth president and the first female president. Her six-year term is scheduled to conclude on September 13 of this year.
It is noteworthy that the previous presidential poll held in 2017 was a reserved election, where only individuals from the Malay community were eligible to contest. As the sole candidate, Mr. Halimah was elected as president during that election.