SINGAPORE: Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam promised that he would not be “on the same team” as the Government if he is elected as President, this morning (11 June). Speaking at the opening of ActiveSG Sports Village @ Jurong Town, he added that he would prefer a contest for the president seat instead of clinching the job unopposed.
While Mr Tharman is one of the most respected politicians and many have welcomed his presidential aspirations, others have questioned how independent he really can be as head of state given the 22 long years he has spent as a People’s Action Party (PAP) politician.
When asked for his comments on the issue of independence, Mr Tharman said that he is focused on his Government duties and will talk about this later, as he is not in campaign mode now. He added,
“But those who know me, know me quite well. They know who I really am and my views. So I’ll talk about that later. I really don’t want to get into what appears to be a campaign messaging at this point,” he said.
Using a football analogy, Mr Tharman also said that he will be like a referee if he is elected, compared to the “defender” role he plays as Cabinet member now:
“On football, I’m not on the same team as the Government once I’m president. Be very clear about that…All I meant is that my cast of mind all along has been that I like being a defence. But I’m not in the same team.”
As for whether his candidacy will deter other candidates, given how well-liked he is, Mr Tharman told the press: “We have to see who comes up. But I certainly much prefer a contest. Having a contest is important for me. I much rather win or lose with the contest. My whole approach is not to shy away from competition, it has always been that way. It’s how I prove myself.”
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