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Tharman Shanmugaratnam to run for President in Singapore, will resign from PAP

Senior Minister Tharman plans to resign from the People's Action Party and step down from his ministerial roles to contest the Presidential Election. 

Tharman Shanmugaratnam to run for President in Singapore, will resign from PAP

Singapore's Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam during the G20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Venice on Jul 9, 2021. (File photo: AFP/Andreas SOLARO)

SINGAPORE: Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam intends to run for the Singapore presidency in an election that must be held by Sep 13.

Mr Tharman, 66, on Thursday (Jun 8) informed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of his decision to retire from politics and all his positions in government. He also said he intends to resign from the People's Action Party.

"I plan to do so a month from now, on Jul 7, 2023, 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," Mr Tharman wrote in a letter 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.

In his letter to Mr Tharman, the Prime Minister 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," Mr Lee wrote.

"As the Head of State, the President is a unifying figure to all citizens, and represents Singapore internationally. The President also exercises important custodial powers, holding the second key when it comes to spending past reserves and making certain critical appointments.

"Through your various finance roles, you have gained deep knowledge of the system and how the reserves are safeguarded. Your international stature and your experience in government and politics will also stand you in good stead as you represent the nation domestically and abroad."

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


Mr Tharman was first elected Member of Parliament in 2001, in Jurong GRC.

An economics graduate, he spent most of his earlier professional career at MAS, where he served as chairman from 2011.

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

He is Coordinating Minister for Social Policies and also advises the Prime Minister on economic policies.

On the global stage, Mr 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.

Mr Tharman said in his letter on Thursday that he has been "humbled" by the requests he received in recent months from Singaporeans who want to see him run for the presidency if President Halimah Yacob decided not to seek a second term.

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

Mr Tharman said he believes he can now best serve Singapore in a different role above politics. 

"If I am fortunate enough to be elected as President, I will represent the unity of Singaporeans, of all races and religions, social backgrounds and political leanings, at a time when views in the population are becoming more diverse," he wrote.

"I will be thorough and impartial in fulfilling the constitutional duties of the President with regard to the prudent use of the nation's reserves and the key appointments which preserve the integrity of the Singapore system. I will also work to the best of my abilities to project Singapore's interests and voice of reason in an increasingly turbulent world."

Mr Tharman added that his "greatest sadness" is in retiring as an MP in Jurong.

"I am assured that my dedicated fellow MPs in Jurong will work doubly hard to serve all our residents fully during the current electoral term."

Madam Halimah, 68, announced on May 29 her decision not to seek a second term. She is the country's eighth President and first female President. Her six-year term ends on Sep 13 this year.

Singapore's last contested Presidential Election was in 2011.

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

The coming Presidential Election is open to all races. 

The process begins when the Prime Minister issues the Writ of Election - a public document that marks the start of an election.

Once issued, the Elections Department will announce the date, time and place where Nomination Day submissions will be held.

Prospective candidates who wish to contest in the election must apply to the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) for a certificate of eligibility and submit a community declaration to the Community Committee (CC).

Source: CNA/gs(jo)


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