Several Singaporeans have told Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam that he is still their choice to be Singapore’s next Prime Minister (PM), as the politician lauded Finance Minister and presumptive future PM Heng Swee Keat’s impending appointment as DPM.
Yesterday, the Government announced that DPMs Tharman and Teo Chee Hean would step down from their posts and become Senior Ministers while Heng becomes the new DPM from 1 May.
The move is yet another confirmation that Heng will indeed become Singapore’s next head of Government, after he was appointed the ruling party’s first assistant secretary-general months ago.
In a Facebook post published yesterday, Tharman said: “We took a major step today in leadership succession, and it is a plus for Singapore’s future. Swee Keat is the best person to move up to become DPM and take over as PM during the next term of government. He has exceptional ability, mettle and the confidence of the 4G team.”
Perhaps alluding to the recent wave of comments disagreeing with Heng, who had said that Singaporeans may not really be ready for a non-Chinese PM, Tharman added: “We have avoided sudden change. It may be unexciting and predictable, but it works for Singapore.”
Noting that both DPM Teo and himself will remain engaged with the Cabinet as Senior Ministers, Tharman said: “Swee Keat and the 4G team must carve their own way as leaders, individually and as a team, and progressively leave their own imprint.” He added:
“Our 4G leadership will have to keep their ears close to the ground, stay open to new ideas and initiatives, and keep evolving our strategies to keep our society inclusive and vibrant. So that they retain the trust of Singaporeans and lead the country with confidence. I am sure they will, and will help them in every way I can in Government. I also look forward to continuing to serve my constituents in Jurong in the years to come.
“We each have our strengths and individual characters, but none of us is perfect. Our system of political renewal in government only succeeds if we complement each other and play as a team, work with Singaporeans, and never let success get to our heads or assume that all that worked in the past will work in the future. It is how the Singapore story keeps going.”
Netizens responding to Tharman’s praise of Heng, however, repeated their hopes that Tharman would become Singaore’s next PM instead.
These comments come after a whopping 92 per cent out of 19,900 individuals voted for Tharman to become the nation’s next head of government in a recent viral poll on social media. Some 92 per cent of respondents identified Tharman as the clear “people’s choice” for PM while 8 per cent chose Heng to succeed PM Lee.
The sentiments Singaporeans expressed in this latest poll match the result of The Independent’s own poll over two years ago, when we asked our readers who should be the next PM. Out of 2,316 responses, most (1,882 votes) voted for Tharman to lead Singapore into the future.
A Blackbox survey commissioned by Yahoo Singapore confirmed the results of our poll. In that survey, 69 per cent of 897 respondents said they would support Tharman as a candidate to become prime minister.
Netizens responding to Tharman’s latest post echoed these sentiments as they asserted that they are ready for a non-Chinese PM. Some hoped for a “miracle” that Tharman would assume the top post as others opined that they do not like Heng as much as they like Tharman: