In his first presidential candidate broadcast, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the former People’s Action Party (PAP) senior minister, laid out a clear vision of his role if elected as Singapore’s ninth president.
Broadcasted across 19 free-to-air channels in all four official languages at 7pm on Thursday, 24 August, his speech emphasised unity, inclusivity, and safeguarding Singapore’s future.
“I believe I can now best serve Singapore not in politics, but as your president, standing above politics,” stated Tharman.
His commitment to Singapore is evident from his over two decades of service with PAP.
Describing his resignation from PAP and as Senior Minister as a “major decision,” he explained, “I have made this major decision because the elected presidency will become more important in the years to come.”
Drawing from his extensive experience on the ground, Tharman revealed that listening to Singaporeans deepened his motivation.
“My greatest privilege was going on the ground and listening to what people have to say,” he shared. This has fortified his drive to mould Singapore into a “fairer, more compassionate, and inclusive society.”
However, as Tharman pointed out, achieving an inclusive society “goes much deeper than government policies.”
He acknowledged the complexities of the current global landscape, stating, “The world is increasingly divided and unstable… They will test all countries, and especially smaller countries like Singapore.”
Addressing Singapore’s evolving democratic landscape, Tharman expressed, “In Singapore, we are becoming a democracy with more diverse views. I regard this as inevitable and healthy.”
The “real challenge,” he said, is ensuring this diversity doesn’t divide society. “We must be a democracy with more space for different views… but also be a society with a strong centre of shared aspirations and respect for all citizens.”
Tharman’s vision for Singapore emphasises respect for all, irrespective of skills, backgrounds, or beliefs.
“It will be my mission to support initiatives on the ground that develop this respect for all,” he commented.
Additionally, with a rich background in government and international roles, he intends to uphold Singapore’s international standing, declaring, “We must never become just another small country.”
Highlighting the paramount importance of the nation’s reserves, Tharman, with his vast experience as Minister for Finance, Deputy Prime Minister, chairman of MAS, and GIC’s Investment Strategies Committee, asserted, “Our reserves were hard-earned, over generations… They must be made to last.”
In concluding his address, Tharman looked back at his journey, stressing the values he acquired as a sportsman and his unwavering commitment to social justice and inclusivity.
“My fellow Singaporeans, I am an optimist in our future… I am convinced we can do this together,” he passionately conveyed.
Joining Tharman, former GIC investment chief, Mr Ng Kok Song, and former NTUC Income CEO Mr Tan Kin Lian will also present their speeches in the upcoming broadcast scheduled for 30 August at 7 pm.