Indian-origin senior minister Tharman to run in Singapore's Presidential election

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Tharman Shanmugaratnam | File photo: PTI

Singapore: Tharman Shanmugaratnam, an Indian-origin senior minister of Singapore on Thursday announced his intention to run in the city-state's presidential election later this year, stepping aside from active politics after 22 years.

Tharman, 66, also said he intends to resign from the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) which has been running the prosperous city-state since the 1960s. He also informed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of his decision to retire from politics and all his positions in the government and contest in the presidential election that must be held by September 13.

Tharman was first elected Member of Parliament in 2001, in Jurong Group Representation Constituencies (Jurong GRC) which allows candidates from the minorities to join a group led by members from the city state's predominantly Chinese origin population.

"I plan to do so a month from now, on July 7, so that I can first fulfil my immediate official commitments in Singapore and internationally, and ensure that arrangements are fully in place for constituents of Jurong GRC to be well-served for the rest of the electoral term," Channel News Asia quoted Tharman from a letter he wrote to the Prime Minister.

He will also step down as chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), deputy chairman of GIC, chairman of the Economic Development Board's International Advisory Council and other responsibilities he has been undertaking in his ministerial capacity.

Tharman said he has been "humbled" by the requests he has received in recent months from Singaporeans who want to see him stand in the presidential election.

"It has been a difficult decision," he said in his letter. "I have consulted my family, and given careful thought to how I can best serve the country in the years ahead."

In his letter to Tharman, Prime Minister Lee said he understands the decision to run for President.

"It is in keeping with the spirit of public service and sense of duty that you have shown all these years," Lee wrote.

Lee said he is confident that Tharman - should he be elected President - will carry out his duties "scrupulously" and with the "independence of mind" he has displayed.

An economics graduate, Tharman has spent most of his earlier professional career at the de facto central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), where he served as chairman from 2011.

Tharman had been Senior Minister since May 2019, after serving for several years as Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Education Minister.

He was the Coordinating Minister for Social Policies and also advised the Prime Minister on economic policies.

On the global stage, Tharman is chair of the G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance. He was also the first Asian chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee.

Singapore will hold its first Presidential Election since 2011, after President Halimah Yacob announced on May 29 that she will not seek a second term.

Halimah, 68, is the country's eighth president and first female president. Her six-year term ends on September 13 this year.

The 2017 presidential poll was a reserved election, in which only members of the Malay community were allowed to contest. Halimah was named president then as there were no other candidates.


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