Singapore—With the changes in the cabinet announced on Tuesday, April 23, the country’s two current Deputy Prime Ministers Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Teo Chee Hean, who will both become Senior Ministers, weighed in on their social media accounts concerning Singapore’s leadership succession. However, many netizens said they wished Mr Tharman had been chosen to be the country’s next leader.
Mr Tharman had high praise for the country’s Finance Minister and Prime Minister-in-waiting, Heng Swee Keat, who will be the sole Deputy Prime Minister starting next Wednesday, May 1.
He wrote, “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.”
The Deputy Prime Minister also wrote about how strong the Cabinet remains, since he, Mr Teo and the other senior ministers will support the new generation of Singapore’s leaders, popularly known as 4G, even while he said that “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 expressed faith in the new generation of leaders to serve the country well and said he would continue to support them, as well as his constituents in Jurong. “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.”
Many netizens have commented on Mr Tharman’s post, sending him well wishes and thanking him for his service.
Some netizens said that he was their choice for Prime Minister. Chan Yeow wrote,
“We want you to be PM, Mr Tharman.”
One commenter named Yash Kanaya wrote, “Ever thankful for your contribution towards the progress of Singapore! Small part of me wishes that you’d succeed as PM, but I respect the decisions taken.”
Another netizen, Nidhi Bhandari, called Mr Tharman the people’s choice for Prime Minister.
“Thank you for your amazing service. You have been one of the best leaders we’ve had in this generation. If only the government would actually listen to the voice of the people sometimes instead of presuming to know what we feel and what is best for us. They would hear a resounding – #TharmanforPM”
Blue Utpala wrote that Mr Tharman is “the only one fit to be our PM,” and said that the new generation of leaders had much to learn from him.
“For many of us, you are the only one fit to be our PM. If only the 4G would learn from you on how to empathize, how to think independently, and, most importantly, how to be and communicate as a decent human being. Thank you for doing your best within whatever constraints there are in the political system in Singapore.”
Georgia Hong expressed certainty that Mr Tharman would have been “great” Prime Minister. “Thank you sir. You are an epitome of steady, wisely, steely leadership and beyond doubt would have been a great PM. Wishing you the best.”
Another netizen indulged in some “wishful thinking,” writing that a perfect scenario would have been Mr Tharman as Prime Minister and Mr Heng as his Deputy. “If only you will be our next PM with Mr Heng as your DPM…… wishful thinking I guess. You have been a great DPM, Mr Tharman. Thanks!”
Commenter Andrew Ong referenced a statement Mr Heng made late last month when he said that older generations of Singaporeans are not ready for a non-Chinese Prime Minister. Andrew Ong
“I’m ready for a non-Chinese PM. Also certain my fellow Singaporeans are too. You would have definitely been a better choice that would reflect the Singapore way based on meritocracy.”
Other commenters echoed this as well. Ravi K Ramasamy wrote, “Your kind words are not convincing, a futuristic PM must have an equal vision for all citizens. Saying that a non-Chinese cannot be a PM, is as good as saying that some are better than the other is based on colour and not performance.”
Indeed, a 2016 survey from market research consultancy Blackbox showed that 69% of almost 900 respondents said they would support Mr Tharman as the country’s next Prime Minister, evidence that many people would have chosen him as their next leader./ TISG