SINGAPORE: During his Presidential candidate’s second broadcast speech, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who previously held the position of Senior Minister within the People’s Action Party, directed his message towards the citizens of Singapore.
He reiterated that he has never acted with politically partisan motives during his time in politics. His motive, he said, was instead to “service actively on the ground” and directly shape policies for a fairer and more inclusive society.
“If I am a partisan, it is that I am a partisan for better chances and better support for Singaporeans who have less.”
“To help them uplift themselves and to uplift all our spirits, that is my purpose in life, ” said Mr Tharman in his final presidential candidate broadcast before Cooling-off Day.
“Why did I choose to serve in politics over the last two decades, after being a technocrat over the previous two decades? I wanted to serve actively on the ground, as well as to have a direct hand in shaping policies for a fairer and more inclusive society.”
Mr Tharman addressed the pressing challenges that Singapore faces as it looks toward an uncertain future.
He reiterated his belief that his unique position outside of the government and beyond political divisions would enable him to best serve the nation during these complex times.
“I believe, I can now best serve you as president standing apart from government, and above Politics as we enter this new and more complex future.”
His speech also touched upon his international engagements, highlighting his role as a key policy advisor at the International Monetary Fund and his leadership in various global councils.
“I have been deeply privileged to serve you in many ways over the decades. Working on the ground, as well as shaping national policies for a fairer and more inclusive society, and flying the Singapore flag High internationally.”
“I therefore come with a breadth and depth of experience, that I have to say with humility is unique among the candidates in this election,” he said.
During his address, Mr Tharman highlighted his historical achievement as the first Asian to chair the International Monetary Fund’s pivotal policy advisory committee.
He also underscored his leadership roles within influential United Nations councils and other global entities, underscoring the robust relationships he has cultivated with prominent international figures.
Mr Tharman’s perspective on presidential responsibilities
The former senior minister elucidated on Wednesday that the elected president’s authority does not extend to investment decisions concerning reserves, and in fact, encompasses no role in devising investment strategies.
He clarified that the primary role of the president, holding the metaphorical “second key” centers on safeguarding against any misuse of reserves stemming from government spending policies and actions of public entities.
“This concerns the Ministry of Finance and government, rather than the GIC.”
Mr Tharman expounded that wielding the “second key” necessitates meticulous evaluation of reserve utilization, particularly in bolstering the nation’s response to significant crises.
He pointed to his past role as finance minister during the 2009 global financial crisis, where the government effectively deployed past reserves.
“Put simply, I know our whole system of reserves inside out,” Mr Tharman affirmed, asserting the importance of Singapore’s preparedness for forthcoming crises and its proactive response to climate change, which may demand substantial long-term investments.
Highlighting his rapport with diverse communities in his Jurong constituency, where he served as a PAP MP, Mr Tharman reaffirmed his commitment to fostering grassroots initiatives and encouraging interfaith and intercultural dialogue.
Should he assume the role of president, Mr Tharman pledged to energetically galvanize support for grassroots initiatives, cultivate deeper cross-cultural interactions, and persist in bridging the divergence of perspectives inherent in a democratic society.
“There is always common ground to be found,” he said.