New S‘pore President Tharman: Will build a future of optimism

Tharman Shanmugaratnam is Singapore's ninth president and the third to be of Tamil-origin after a landslide victory.

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Singapore’s Indian-origin economist Tharman Shanmugaratnam received a resounding mandate with a whopping 70.4 per cent votes in a three-way contest to elect the city-state’s ninth President on Friday 1 Sept.

More than 2.7 million Singaporeans voted to elect the 66-year-old leader, who ran his Presidential campaign with a pledge to evolve the country’s culture to keep it a “shining spot” in the world.

“I pledge and it will be my duty to use the roles and responsibilities of the president to advance this future of optimism and solidarity among Singaporeans. That is my pledge,” Tharman said in his first remarks to the media after his win.

According to the sample count results released by the Elections Department at 10.40 p.m., Tharman received a resounding mandate with a whopping 70.4 per cent while rival candidates Ng Kok Song and Tan Kin Lian were trailing with 16 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively.

Addressing the media shortly after the release of sample count, Tharman said he was “humbled by the strong endorsement that Singaporeans have given to me”.

Before Tharman, Singapore has had two Tamil-origin presidents – Sellapan Ramanathan who became the city-state’s longest-serving president in 2009, and Chengara Veetil Devan Nair, who served from 1981 to 1985.

Tharman Shanmugaratnam joined politics in 2001 and has served in the public sector and ministerial positions with Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) for over two decades.

“I believe that the vote for me and what I stand for is a vote of confidence in Singapore. It’s a vote of optimism that we can progress together,” he said.

It was for the third time that Singaporeans voted for their President since the elected presidency was introduced in 1991. The first such contested election was in 1993, followed by the second one in 2011.

Close to 1,406,182 Singaporeans turned up to cast their votes as of noon at the 1,264 polling stations across the city-state, according to the Elections Department Singapore (ELD).

Among those who turned up at the polling stations early in the morning were President Halimah and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

As the head of the city-state, the Singaporean President is empowered to veto government budgets and key public appointments, authorise anti-corruption investigations, and safeguard the country’s fiscal reserve.

Incumbent President Halimah Yacob’s six-year term will end on September 13. She is the country’s eighth and first female president.

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