Singapore-born, Indian-born Tharman Shanmugaratnam was officially announced today as a candidate for the prosperous city-state's September 1 presidential election, along with two former business leaders of Chinese descent.
Mr Tharman, 66, former investment chief of state-owned company Ng Kok Song, 75, and former head of state-owned insurance company Tan Kin Lian, 75, have been formally announced by the Elections Department (ELD) as candidates for Singapore's highest office but apolitical post.
As the three have been officially announced as candidates, The Straits Times newspaper reports that they cannot withdraw from the race without forfeiting their election bail of SGD 40,500 each.
The three men, each vying to become Singapore's ninth president, can officially begin the election campaign, which ends on August 30. The rest day is August 31st and the election day is September 1st.
Singapore's incumbent President Halimah Yacob's six-year term ends on September 13.
Speaking after the nomination, Mr Tharman, a former senior minister in the ruling People's Action Party government, said he looks forward to a dignified and honorable competition that will see what each candidate brings to Singaporeans and the country's future.
“Let us look forward to a campaign that is dignified and honorable, and a campaign that itself aims to unite Singaporeans and not divide us,” he said.
Mr. Tharman later told the media that he was not running for the presidency on the basis of new positions or statements, but on the basis of a long-held purpose in life.
“I believe in a more just, compassionate and inclusive society. And my life is dedicated to her. Singapore can be special,” Mr Tharman is quoted as saying in the report.
Mr Tharman, who left all political and public office to run for the presidency in July, said “it is our future that we are concerned about” and that it will be “a different future”.
“We face a more difficult and challenging future. That is why I entered this competition to offer all my field experience and skills from a few decades at national and international level,” Channel News Asia quoted Mr Tharman as saying.
“So that I may wholeheartedly serve the Singaporeans in the role of President for years to come,” he added.
Mr Tharman was an economist and civil servant, mainly with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, before entering politics in 2001.
He was Minister of Education and Finance and Deputy Prime Minister from 2011 to 2019.
Ng, who introduced himself in Chinese, Malay and Tamil, said he was running for president to protect Singapore's three national treasures – the reserves, civil service appointments and social stability.
“I feel I have a mission to truly serve the people of Singapore. Therefore, I am happy that the people of Singapore are giving me the opportunity to serve my country once more,” he said.
Tan said he wants to give the people of Singapore “a chance to vote for a president who is truly independent of the ruling government” and, if elected, will diligently, honestly and conscientiously carry out his duties set out in the constitution and to the best of his ability .
“Those duties are to protect the reserves and maintain the integrity of the public service. I ask for your support so that I can do my best for the people,” he said.
Although a non-political office, the president is responsible for several important functions in the city-state, including key state appointments and guarding the national reserves, which the then-government can only use with presidential approval.
(Except for the headline, this article was not edited by NDTV staff and is published via a syndicated feed.)