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Tharman on his close ties with Prime Minister, says President’s objectivity beyond ‘simple label’

In reply to contender Ng Kok Song’s concern over close President-PM ties affecting objectivity, Former People’s Action Party Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam stressed considering candidates’ character and track record.

Mr Tharman dismissed simplistic labels in leadership evaluations, “Simple labels are not very useful when you are thinking of a leadership contest.”



SINGAPORE: On Thursday (24 Aug), Presidential candidate Ng Kok Song expressed that if the President’s relationship with the Prime Minister (PM) becomes “too close,” it could pose significant challenges in carrying out presidential duties objectively.

The 75-year-old, formerly the Chief Investment Officer at GIC, highlighted the potential risks, stating, “There is a danger in that because the President’s responsibility is to safeguard the reserves, safeguard the integrity of appointments to certain public service positions. ”

“And the President must act in the best interests of the people of Singapore. So I think it will be very difficult for the President to discharge his responsibilities in an objective way, if he has too close a relationship with the PM.”

Mr Ng’s remarks were prompted by comments made by fellow candidate Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Wednesday.

Tharman, a former senior minister of the People’s Action Party (PAP), suggested that a President-PM relationship built on mutual respect would enhance the President’s ability to offer independent advice that holds weight.

The 66-year-old has reportedly further responded to Mr Ng’s comment.

In response to Ng’s assertion that a close President-PM relationship might impede objective duties, Tharman emphasized that the impact depends on the individual’s character, track record, and reputation.

He said: “I think we have to think about this objectively based on the personal attributes of each of the candidates.”

“Simple labels are not very useful when you are thinking of a leadership contest,” he told the media during his walkabout at Lau Pa Sat on Thursday.

Tharman urges voters to consider candidates beyond politics

Addressing discussions about online discussions to spoil or boycott votes, Tharman stressed the election’s significance for Singapore’s future.

“I think we should not look at it through a political lens,” he said.

“We are electing an individual, and we have to look at what the individual represents and has represented through their lives, and what they are bringing for the future.”

M Tharman also highlighted the distinction between walkabouts during general elections and presidential elections.

He pointed out that general election walkabouts typically involve visiting people in their homes.

He said: “When it comes to presidential elections, you can’t visit people at home all around the island.

“So, meeting them at hot spots like hawker centres and markets, and also organising dialogues with different groups, have been extremely rewarding and very engaging.”

Tharman highlights his “long and close relationship” with former colleague DPM Wong in a CNA’s interview

Mr Tharman doesn’t hesitate to emphasize the depth of his relationship with his former PAP colleague.

In a recent exclusive interview with Singapore’s leading news outlet, Channel NewsAsia (CNA), Mr Tharman opened up about his collaborative approach with the PAP’s fourth-generation leaders.

He expressed his confidence in establishing a foundation of trust with the future Prime Minister, enabling him to provide impartial advice during this pivotal transitional phase.

Mr Tharman said, “I believe Lawrence not only has what it takes, but will be a leader for the times, with a very different style.”

Detailing his vision for executing the duties of the Presidency, Mr Tharman emphasized his “long and close relationship” with Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who is widely regarded as the leader of the PAP’s fourth-generation team.

He said: “I have confidence that I’ll be able to have a relationship of trust with him where I can provide advice independently, and I think we will both take each other seriously.”

He added that as his conversations with Mr Wong will take place privately, thus preserving the core tenet of the President’s role as an independent entity distinct from the government.

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likewise I cannot in all honesty vote for him. Furthermore, I think it’s time for a Chinese President. The last PE, we were FORCED to have an indian as our President.

Is he is saying because of his close relationship with PAP, it would be difficult to be impartial ???

must implement ABSD and SSD immediately on heritage/conservation shophouses which values been escalating crazily and FLIPPED frequently by ultra rich foreign/local investors, family offices, large institutions and collective real estate agents. Buying multiple of these do not attract ABSD and SSD, which is the primary cause. F&B tenants surviving on their culinary skillsets are frustrated with high rent and forced to compromise on food portions to mitigate the absurdly high rent. 94 amoy street bought in Nov 2022 and FLIPPED in april 2023 made 3 million + President needs to convince the PM to act. Referring to the 10 Fujian… Read more »

Between the 3, NKS, Tharman & TKL , all indeed can speak very well, except TKL sometimes speak slower a bit. That is fine to me. CB (cuckoo bird) tells me :Among all the 3, the ones who talks well are not problems solvers, TKL is indeed a problem solver for Singapore as I watched all his youtube videos. For decades, What has Tharman & NKS did for the Singaporeans in terms of high cost of living, etc etc to make our lives more easier? No!!! Dear Tharman: Suggest you distribute curry fish head instead of cheap pineapples. Singaporeans love… Read more »

“..Simple labels are not very useful when you are thinking of a leadership contest…”

Tharman seems to keep revealing his true self and demolishing his perceived (undeserved?) reputation. Previous calls for him to be PM are now simple labels and not useful for the minority clause. Because in a leadership contest (aspiration to be a minority PM), he now has shown himself to be a mere puppet (obedience to be a ceremonial President).

Beyond Objectivity, indeed.

,ya and Tharman ,go buy a plantation in Sarawak and plant pineapple.You said will not return to politics so that’s a good career to be future pineapple king.

Please resign before Singaporeans choose someone else because not capable enough.
1) Lawrence wong-at arms length regarding ho Ching salary.
2)Ridout case minister.
3)Covid case-hindsigth.
As for PM,step down, reconcile with your siblings.Nothing more important than family.

By using pineapple as symbol,you can suspect without proof he is trying to win the majority Chinese vote(Wang lai,lucky).Not very nice.He should add(ketupat,curry, MacDonalds)for our Malays,Indians, Eurasian friends.Please pardon me,I just randomly chose because my friends from these races love them.No other meaning.Should brainstorm to use a more appropriate symbol to show seriousness or he think is a walkover?

Now thanks to Ah Loong, race has EVERYTHING to do with the EP. That’s how Halimau got in.

Okay, but does Tharman also have “close ties” with Chan Chun Sing? 🙂 I mean, anything can happen … I mean, skarli, midway through his presidency and there is an “unexpected” change in the PM-ship, then how?

If me, $9m for 1 term is a great deal🤣

The more he talks about the PAP, the more votes he loses. He has not comprehended the hatred and anger of the people against the PAP.

To be close friends with the 1st Key, TM need to declare conflict of interest and RECUSE himself From his role as president.

TM is wrong to say depends on the relationship with PM.

In private sector, chief auditor is not supposed to be close friends with his client.

In public sector, chief justice has to be perceived no conflict of interest.

I think tharman Lacks a sense of Independence of Mind he claims he has. Fully debunked.

World Stage?

Dear Senior Minister !

Where are you ?

Can it solved the hungry Singaporeans of High Food cost , High cost of living, High PUB bills, High transport bills, jobs lost to one million foreigners and CECasians?

You and NKS just resigned shortly less than a few months ago, Stop telling us you and NKS are independent President ? Last but not least why resign when MAS lost $30.8 billions? A lot of money arh .Thank you.

Botak may appear nice, smiley and soft spoken.

Behind the facade is a shrewd pappy who only takes care of his self interest.

All these sweet nothing whispers about caring for sinkies are BS

Ai yah one moment, coconut head said close.

Now, so defensive. Close but not so simple.

Never trust a puppet. Full stop.

When the PM tells TS Singapore not ready for a minority PM, he openly agreed and also declared he will not be one. When PM needed a candidate for the PE, TS declared he saw the need to stand for election for the sake of the country and her people, as if he was not asked. (George Yeo’s book already confirmed all establishment candidates are asked to stand when needed m, just like him). If TS becomes the President, what’s stopping him from simply agreeing to what the Government wants on the reserves? He can pretend to deliberate the request… Read more »