SINGAPORE: Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam publicly announced today (8 June) his intention to run for the presidency of Singapore in the upcoming election, which is scheduled to be held by September 13.
In a letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Tharman revealed his decision to retire from politics, resign from the People’s Action Party, and step down from his various government positions. He said:
“I plan to do so a month from now, on July 7, 2023, so that I can first fulfill my immediate official commitments in Singapore and internationally, and ensure that arrangements are fully in place for constituents of Jurong GRC to be well-served for the rest of the electoral term.”
The 66-year-old expressed his gratitude for the requests he has received from Singaporeans urging him to stand in the Presidential Election, particularly if President Halimah Yacob decided against seeking a second term. He added that it had been a difficult decision and that he had consulted his family before coming to a conclusion.
Having served as a Member of Parliament since 2001 in Jurong GRC, Mr Tharman has had an extensive career in both the public and private sectors. He held prominent roles at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), including chairman from 2011. He also served as Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Education Minister, and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies. On the global stage, he chairs the G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance and was the first Asian chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee.
Mr Tharman said he believes he can best serve Singapore in a new role transcending politics. Promising to champion inclusivity and the unity of Singaporeans, the veteran politician vowed to fulfill the constitutional duties of the President diligently, including the prudent use of the nation’s reserves and key appointments that maintain the integrity of Singapore’s system if he is elected.
He added that “his greatest sadness” is in retiring as Jurong GRC MP but assured that his colleagues at the ward would work “doubly hard” to represent his constituents during the rest of the electoral term.
Mr Tharman said: “My role vis-à-vis the Government will change fundamentally if I am elected President. What will never change is my conviction in the continuing Singapore story: a society where everyone has the support to uplift themselves regardless of their starting point in life, and a multiracial nation whose citizens take pride in its unique identity and feel a deepening sense of togetherness.”
PM Lee accepted Mr Tharman’s decision in a reply letter made public by his office. Asserting that the President plays a crucial role in Singapore’s system of governance, he expressed confidence in the Senior Minister’s ability to carry out the duties of the President scrupulously, as he has consistently demonstrated an independence of mind.
He added: “Thank you once again for your distinguished service to Singapore for the past 40 years, and I wish you every success as you embark on your new journey.”
The Presidential Election, to be held by September 13, 2023, will mark Singapore’s first open race since 2011. The previous election in 2017 was reserved for candidates from the Malay community, resulting in the uncontested election of another ex-PAP MP, Halimah Yacob, as the country’s eighth president and first female president.