Parliament pays tribute to Tharman Shanmugaratnam on his last sitting day
Leader of the House Indranee Rajah also recognised the nine Nominated Members of Parliament, whose last sitting for their term was also on Thursday (Jul 6), for their contributions in parliament.
SINGAPORE: Parliament, led by Leader of the House Indranee Rajah, on Thursday evening (Jul 6) paid tribute to Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on his last sitting day in parliament.
Mr Tharman, who is also Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, last month informed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of his decision to retire from politics and all positions in government, in order to contest Singapore's presidential election.
His last day in office will be on Friday.
SIMPLIFYING COMPLEX ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES THARMAN'S "GREATEST GIFT"
In a short speech towards the end of Thursday's sitting, Ms Indranee called Mr Tharman's ability to simplify complex economic principles as his "greatest gift".
"I think SM's (Senior Minister) greatest gift is really in making very complex economic principles sound simple. At least I thought they sounded simple. They sounded very profound; you weren't quite sure exactly what he was saying, but it sounded like they made a lot of sense," she said.
"We will miss SM Tharman in this chamber, not least his commanding presence and his erudite speeches," she added.
"But also (we) will miss his wit and his dry humour. I think, most of all, we will miss a friend and a fellow Member of Parliament."
Ms Indranee told the House that she and Mr Tharman entered parliament in the same batch in 2001.
Mr Tharman has since held various ministerial appointments, including Minister for Education, Minister for Finance, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies and Senior Minister.
Ms Indranee outlined his various contributions in each role, including seeing Singapore through the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 as Finance Minister, removing streaming at primary levels as Education Minister, as well as leading the SkillsFuture programme to encourage lifelong learning and upskilling among Singaporeans in his economic and manpower portfolios.
Mr Tharman also chaired the National Jobs Council during the COVID-19 pandemic to safeguard jobs and create employment and training opportunities for Singaporeans.
RECOGNITION FOR NMPs
Ms Indranee also highlighted that Thursday's parliamentary sitting marked the end of the term for the current cohort of nine Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) and thanked them for their service.
Mr Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab, Ms Janet Ang, Mr Mark Chay, Mr Cheng Hsing Yao, Professor Hoon Hian Teck, Professor Koh Lian Pin, Mr Joshua Thomas Raj, Dr Shahira Abdullah and Dr Tan Yia Swam joined parliament in "most unusual circumstances" in the midst of a global pandemic, said Ms Indranee.
The NMPs covered "several important milestones" during their tenure, she noted.
These include measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and position Singapore for a post-pandemic future, Singapore's Green Plan, the White Paper on Women's Development, the repeal of Section 377A and the Constitutional Amendment regarding challenges to the definition of marriage, as well as support for the GST (Goods and Services Tax) Bill.
"They champion causes they care deeply about, ranging from economic growth and employment opportunities, healthcare, sports, and sustainability," added Ms Indranee.
"They have presented their views passionately and contributed constructively to the robust debates in this House over the last two years. They were also mindful of what this parliament represents and stands for."
She recalled Mr Cheng's cut during the Committee of Supply debates earlier this year on "an effective parliament and what that means, as well as the values and principles which underpin it".
"By their participation in this parliament, they have helped to achieve this current state of affairs," she added.
"I hope the NMPs will remember their time in parliament fondly, and that they will continue to give close attention to issues of national interest, follow parliamentary proceedings, and contribute to our national building efforts in their personal or professional capacities."