SINGAPORE: In a Facebook video posted on Wednesday evening (23 Mar), veteran diplomat Professor Kishore Mahbubani has endorsed presidential candidate Tharman Shanmugaratnam and has asserted that “there is no better choice” than the former Senior Minister for the presidency.
Prof Mahbubani, who is the founding dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore and Singapore’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, not only threw his weight behind Mr Tharman but also said he has three reasons with which he hopes to persuade voters to support the ex-governing party politician.
First, Prof Mahbubani said it would “help to have a President who is globally respected” as he drew on his extensive knowledge of geopolitics spanning over fifty years and predicted that Singapore and the greater Southeast Asia region will face imminent geopolitical challenges in the next decade.
Although he acknowledged that it is the Government’s job to deal with geopolitical stress, he said Mr Tharman’s “high global standing will provide Singapore with another layer of protection as we navigate stormy geopolitical waters.”
Next, he said that Mr Tharman would be a unifying figure, especially in recent social tensions and uncertainties in Singapore. Prof Mahbubani said:
“If ever there was a moment in Singapore’s history when we needed an inspirational figure as President, this is it. Few Singaporeans inspire respect in the way that Tharman does.
He is a truly unifying figure who can bring together all Singaporeans: rich and poor, privileged and less privileged, Chinese and Malays, Indians and Eurasians – indeed, all of us.”
Asserting that Mr Tharman has a big heart, the diplomat who has known Mr Tharman for more than three decades said: “His big heart will infuse our national spirit with high levels of care and compassion for each other.”
Aside from having a big heart, Prof Mahbubani added that Mr Tharman has “big thoughts and good cheer” that will help uplift the spirits of Singaporeans. He said, “So even as we sail into some stress, we can be confident that Tharman will be around to cheer us up.’
Prof Mahbubani appealed: “I sincerely hope that you will join me in voting for Tharman. There’s no better choice. If you agree, please share this message and video with your friends. Let’s come together and vote for a better future for Singapore.”
Prof Mahbubani’s endorsement comes a day after Singapore’s ambassador-at-large, Tommy Koh, backed Mr Tharman’s bid for the presidency. Interestingly, Prof Mahbubani called Prof Koh his “guru” in his video on Wednesday.
Revealing that he is a friend to all three presidential candidates, including ex-GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song and ex-NTUC Income chief Tan Kin Lian, Prof Koh said on Tuesday (22 Aug) that he has “decided to support Tharman for President” because he has “transcended race and is a leader for all Singaporeans.”
Praising Mr Tharman’s “independent mind,” “moral courage,” and “integrity,” Prof Koh added that the ex-politician is “well-prepared” for the custodial duties of the President, given his past roles as Finance Minister, Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Chairman of the GIC’s Investment Strategies Committee.
Asserting that Mr Tharman will fly the Singapore flag high, Prof Koh said: “If faced with an unreasonable request to use our reserves, I believe that he will have the courage to say, no. If asked to approve the appointment of an unqualified person for a key post in the public service, I don’t think he will hesitate to reject the appointment.”