SINGAPORE: Presidential hopeful Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam made the case for avoiding “simple labels” when choosing whom to vote.
He said that the election is “a contest between individuals who have to be assessed on their character, whether they have the spine, whether they have the track record, (and) whether they’ll be able to keep the trust of the people who are electing them.”
In a video he posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday morning (Aug 30), the Senior Minister answered the following question: “How can you convince voters you are not politicising the election and will exercise your powers without fear or favour?”
He added that to label a person depending on whether they’ve been a political party member is “extremely simplistic.” Applying this label would have ruled out Mr Ong Teng Cheong and Mr Tony Tan, who were Singapore’s fifth and seventh presidents respectively and who had been longtime Members of Parliament from the ruling People’s Action Party.
Mr Tharman said this would also have excluded Dr Tan Cheng Bock, who had contested for the Presidency in 2011 but lost to Mr Tony Tan by a 0.35 per cent margin. Dr Tan had also been a PAP MP for over two decades but went on to co-found the Progress Singapore Party and is now an opposition leader.
Moreover, Mr Tharman added that this label “would have ruled out also a whole set of people… who may not be members of a political party, but who have owed their positions to their bosses, who were ministers in the government of the day.”
As for “all our senior civil servants, all the senior people on the public track owe their positions to their bosses who are political figures,” he asked whether they are obligated to their bosses because of it, but answered, “not necessarily it depends on the individual.”
If a person owns a private firm, such as a construction company that depends on government contracts or has a fund management company that depends on government monies, this does not necessarily make you not independent, he added. /TISG
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