Tharman Shanmugaratnam, an Indian-origin Singapore-born economist, registered a landslide victory in Singapore’s presidential election on Friday, winning over 70 per cent of votes in the country’s first contested presidential polls since 2011.
The 66-year-old former senior minister bagged 70.4 per cent (1,746,427 votes) of the 2.48 million votes cast, while his Chinese-origin rivals Ng Kok Song and Tan Kin Lian received 15.72 per cent and 13.88 per cent, respectively, the Elections Department said.
The result was announced by Returning Officer Tan Meng Dui at past midnight, making Tharman Singapore’s third Indian-origin president.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated Tharman, Singapore’s Deputy prime minister from 2011 to 2019, on winning the presidential election.
“Singaporeans have chosen Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam to be our next president by a decisive margin. As head of state, he will represent us at home and abroad, and exercise custodial powers, including over the reserves and key appointments,” he said.
Lee noted that in Friday’s election, both voters and candidates showed a greater understanding of the roles and duties of the president, which bodes well for Singapore.
“I have every confidence that he will carry out his duties as president with distinction,” he said.
Earlier speaking at Taman Jurong Food Centre, where his supporters had gathered, Tharman said he is “truly humbled by the strong endorsement” Singaporeans have given him.
“I’m humbled by this vote - it is not just a vote for me, it is a vote for Singapore’s future, a future of optimism and solidarity. That’s what it really is. My campaign was one of optimism and solidarity, and I believe that’s what Singaporeans want,” he said.
“I will honour the trust that Singaporeans have placed in me and respect all Singaporeans including those who did not vote for me,” Tharman said.
Prime Minister Lee’s People’s Action Party (PAP) had backed Tharman in the election.
Lee said he congratulated Tharman for his resounding victory to assure him of his Government’s full cooperation.
“Tharman has also declared his intention to work closely with the Government. As head of state, the president has to be a unifying figure that all Singaporeans can look up to and identify with,” Lee said.
Tharman formally launched his presidential campaign in July with a pledge to evolve the country’s culture to keep it a “shining spot” worldwide.
He joined politics in 2001 and has served in the public sector and ministerial positions with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) for over two decades.
Over 2.7 million voters cast their ballots. The voters started casting their ballots at 8 AM when polling stations opened. The polls closed at 8 PM (local time).
Incumbent President Madam Halimah Yacob’s six-year term will end on September 13. She is the country’s eighth and first female president.
This was Singapore’s first contested presidential election since 2011.
Singapore, in the past, has had two Indian-origin presidents.
Sellapan Ramanathan, popularly known as S R Nathan, a Singaporean politician and civil servant of Tamil descent, served as the president of Singapore. In 2009, Nathan defeated Benjamin Sheares to become Singapore’s longest-serving president.
Chengara Veetil Devan Nair, better known as Devan Nair, served as the third president of Singapore from 1981 until his resignation in 1985. Born in 1923 in Malacca, Malaysia, Nair was the son of a rubber plantation clerk who was originally from Thalassery, Kerala.