SINGAPORE: In his first social media post since he won the presidential election yesterday (1 Sept), President-elect Tharman Shanmugaratnam has characterised each vote for him as a vote of confidence for Singapore.

In the post, published past midnight, the former ruling party heavyweight reiterated how humbled he feels by the overwhelming support he received at the polls, winning over 70 per cent of the vote.

Promoting his campaign message of respect for all, he said: “I believe the vote for me and what I stood for is a vote of confidence in Singapore itself, a vote of optimism in how we can progress together and support each other as Singaporeans.

“It can, and must, be a future of deeper respect for each other, regardless of backgrounds and educational achievements. A future of closer interactions between our different faiths and cultures, so that we deepen our multicultural identity. A future of solidarity even as we hold to diverse views, which is natural in our democracy.

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“A future where every generation derives confidence and benefit from our national reserves, and feels fortunate that we are Singaporeans. A future where Singapore continues to be a partner of choice internationally and is able to project its voice of reason in an endangered world.”

The President-elect promised to use the presidency to “advance this future of optimism and solidarity.” He added, “I will honour your trust in me, and serve you with all my heart in the years to come. Majulah Singapura!”

Mr Tharman was the clear establishment pick in the three-horse race for the presidency but the other two contenders, ex-GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song and ex-NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian, received less than half the total votes Mr Tharman received, with over 15 per cent and over 13 per cent, respectively.

The veteran politician, however, has promised to be apolitical and independent, arguing that focusing on his past political affiliation is too “simplistic”.

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He has said, during the election campaign period: “I wanted to serve actively on the ground. And have a direct hand in shaping policies for a fairer and more inclusive society. If I am a partisan, it is that I am a partisan for better chances and better support for Singaporeans who have less. That is my purpose in life.”