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Beyond endorsements: Scrutinizing Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s political track record

In response to Professor Tommy Koh’s endorsement of Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam for president, Toh Soh Lung raises concerns about Mr Shanmugaratnam’s historical stance on various laws. She questions whether he truly represents the interests of Singaporeans, especially the youth and seniors, despite his diplomatic prowess and financial acumen.



by Teo Soh Lung

I would like to respond to Professor Tommy Koh’s endorsement of former People’s Action Party (PAP) politician, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam as president.

While I agree that Mr Shanmugaratnam believes in multiculturalism and has consistently won the Jurong GRC with a greater majority than our prime minister, I do not think he has the moral courage and is so independent as to speak his mind on crucial issues that affect Singaporeans, especially our young people.

I say this because throughout his decades of service as a member of parliament and then as a minister, he has not attempted or has failed to persuade his colleagues not to pass laws that do great harm to the people and damage Singapore’s image in the world.

He did not object to the passing of the following oppressive laws:

1. Public Order Act which makes it an offence for one person to hold a piece of cardboard with the Smiley symbol. Many young people have gone to jail because of this law.

2. The Administration of Justice (Protection) Act which lowers the burden of proof in favour of the prosecution for contempt of court cases. Many young people have been charged and convicted under this law.

3. POFMA or Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, which gravely restricts our freedom of speech and expression. Many people and political parties have suffered under this law.

4. Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act 2021, which instils fear among civil society.

5. Amendment to the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore Act which requires a candidate to be a CEO of one company with a shareholders’ equity of S$500m. This requirement has prevented Mr George Goh from qualifying as a candidate, and I am sure has prevented many good people from contesting this election.

6. Various government policies that cause hardship to people.

As minister for finance, Mr Shanmugaratnam did not exempt essential goods from Goods & Service Tax (GST). This has a grave effect on poor people.

This list is not exhaustive.

Throughout his years in government, Mr Shanmugaratnam, as part of the cabinet, has not granted a single clemency petition. Petitions that were sent to him were not even acknowledged.

I am not saying that he is the only one who does not acknowledge letters. Other members of parliament and ministers too do not acknowledge receipt of letters that they do not like to read. This applies to President Halimah too.

I have no doubt that Mr Shanmugaratnam will be a good diplomat and may render Mr Vivian Balakrishnan redundant. He will bring prestige to the PAP government. But bringing prestige to the PAP government should not be his priority. He has to take care of the people, even those who do not agree with the government.

Mr Shanmugaratnam definitely knows how to keep our national reserves. But does he know how to spend it, especially for senior citizens who today are still toiling away in coffee shops, hawkers’ centres and our public toilets?

Visitors to Singapore are always shocked that our elderly are not taken care of. This is bad publicity for Singapore. He has to remember that our seniors made great sacrifices. A large part of our national reserves comprises land and properties acquired at drastically below market value under the Land Acquisition Act, which was passed soon after Singapore attained independence in 1965.

Finally, Mr Shanmugaratnam has not made any attempt to voice objection to laws that permit detention without trial.

His friends who were detained without trial in 1987 have been struggling to clear their names for decades. If he is elected as president, will he be able to right the wrongs done to them and to so many others who suffer under obnoxious and oppressive laws?

Will he instruct the PAP government to convene Commissions of Inquiry to investigate the wrongs done to people of various generations before they move on to the next world?

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He claimed he has been a government a long time and is very experienced into managing the wealth of our nation. All this while, has he even opened his mouth about the plight of the citizens high cost of living? About the rising fuel and living costs? He sat there every parliament sitting acting blur to the people’s suffering whilst old people are jumping off ledges and young people turning to crime as a means. Now he want us to give him our vote to be our national representative? Has he even got a conscience? At very best during his… Read more »

I never have a sg leader I elected. 56 years old. Country 58 years old. The Majority will never change and so do I. So it’s not gonna change in my life. Many singaporeans waited and died also never get to fulfil their wish. But does the Majority bother? I guess this is Democracy?

I have no country I feel I belong to nor proud of and does not like the mindset here.

Who wants to buy my citizenship let me know. Oh, I forgot, it has no resale value.

Pray for Tan Kin Lian to win!
CB (cuckoo bird) tells me: Dear fellow Singaporeans, Any difference if you vote pappy or opposition parties now? Food prices , BTO prices still increased…………….
Thank you CB !

Keep hearing the same vinyl record playing. Mr. Tharman: Where were you as a Senior Minister, when: 1) More than 1 million foreigners and Cecasian flooded Singapore and take away jobs? 2) Free scholarships are given to foreigners instead of helping the Singaporeans? 3) MAS lost $30.8 billions and $millions losses in other investment entities? 4) HDB prices are high , High Food cost are high, High cost of living, etc you only said $1000 salary is affordable? So you think many Singaporeans will vote for you? Yes the PLP’ers and cotton lovers will vote for you indeed. You definitely… Read more »

When TS openly declined to be in the running for PM several years ago, he has shot himself in the foot. Now he wants Singaporeans to vote him as President, it’s a difficult pill to swallow.
TS only proves he is a pawn to be manipulated by his sponsors. If he can be so easily manipulated just to toe the line, what good is he at protecting the reserves?
Perhaps he knows he can do the job, but when push comes to shove, he can only swallow and do as he is told, like it or not.

In his decades with the PAP, Tharman has never spoken up or done anything for Singaporeans. It is naive to believe that as President he will suddenly do so. He will not bite the hand that has fed him so well for so long and is continuing to feed him.

another pappy tommy…..tsk tsk tsk

Tharman is going for the EP to secure the institution for the PAP. It has nothing to do with the State or People. He and NKS are in the PAP establishment. We, the citizens are on the opposite pole. So we have to vote for TKL. We have no other choice because of the $500m set by the PAP.

Tommy is just a mouthpiece and a free rider.
Overrated and fed by the systems elites!

Vote TKL and kicked out all those old wood. What do you think?

To me, he has zero track record of being Independent from PAP.
Just a yesman. Look soft and nice. Talk motherhood statements. I dont believe him.

Botak is by and large a fair weathered chap who is in just for his himself.

All these high sounding words about fairness and unity are nothing concrete but hot air to secure his Papsident.

Don’t get taken in by him.

just another pappy…

Yes, Yes & YES!

Like Bees To Honey Or Flies To Rubbish, Fishes Are Attracted To The Bright Lights Of A Kelong.

Tharman is fit to be president but unfit this time because we don’t need another puppet of the PAP.