Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced today that he would be stepping down from his political duties and government positions to run for the upcoming presidential elections.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today, he said that he had been “humbled by requests” from the public to run for president “if President Halimah chose not to stand again”.
He also added that it was a difficult decision and he had consulted his family and given much thought to how he could best serve the country in the years to come.
“I believe that I can now best serve Singapore not in politics, but in a different role that has to be above politics,” he said in the letter.
“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.”
Years of public service
Tharman had spent many years working in the public service, starting out as a professional economist at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) before joining the civil service to work under the Ministry of Education.
He then returned to work at the MAS again when Lee Hsien Loong was the Chairman during the Asian Financial Crisis and served as the Deputy Managing Director and then as Managing Director.
Tharman was also a Member of Parliament (MP) for the last 22 years and a significant figure in Taman Jurong and Jurong GRC – a position that is his “greatest sadness” to retire from.
“Worked hard to build a more inclusive society”
The prime minister also took the time to reply to his resignation later and thanked Tharman for his years of service.
“In all these roles, you worked hard to build a more inclusive society, and to improve wages and create better jobs for Singaporeans. You made significant contributions to strengthen our social mobility escalator, as well as what you called our social safety ‘trampoline’,” he said in the letter.
He ended by saying that if elected president, he is confident that Tharman would carry out his duties well with “the independence of mind” he had always displayed.
Both letters can be read in full on the Prime Minister’s Office website.
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