SINGAPORE-BORN Indian-origin 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.
Tharman, 66, former investment chief of state-owned company, Ng Kok Song, 75, former head of the state-run insurance company and Tan Kin Lian, 75, were officially announced as candidates by the Elections Department (ELD) for Singapore’s highest but non-political post.
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.
Singapore’s incumbent president Halimah Yacob’s six-year term will end on September 13.
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.
Tharman said 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,” he was quoted as saying by the Straits Times.
“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,” Tharman, a former senior minister in the ruling People’s Action Party Government, said.
He resigned from all political and public offices in July to contest for the presidency.
“It is our future that we are concerned about,” he said. “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.”
Tharman was an economist and civil servant, mainly at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, before joining politics in 2001.
He served as a minister for education and finance and was 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.
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”.
The three candidates can now not pull out of the race without forfeiting their election deposits of SGD 40,500 each, The Straits Times said.