Singapore is going through a difficult transition, economically and politically, into a competitive new era that is not only about money and power. And now Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was urged by Singaporeans to rise up as the country’s next Prime Minister, has been sworn in as Singapore’s 9th President.
He believes he can best serve Singapore in a different role that is above politics. Tharman wants to represent the unity of Singaporeans, of all races and religions, social backgrounds, and political leanings. But the President is a ceremonial role. And it doesn’t seem a suited role for Tharman who rose the ranks of the People’s Action Party (PAP).
Tharman a Popular Politician
In 2015, the popular lawmaker likened his governing skills to soccer. He said he is better off as a team player who can provide assists than as the striker who scores goals. Tharman, with his wealth of experience in economics and finance, shared that he enjoys making the long passes, but he is not the celebrated striker.
In his inauguration speech as President last evening, he said this was a vote of confidence in Singapore’s future, a future, a future where we all progress together and deepen our solidarity as Singaporeans. “It will make us a better society, and add to our ballast as we face a more turbulent world.”
The 66-year-old has pushed away the prospects of being Singapore’s Prime Minister back in 2016 because PAP officials believed the country’s older generation would not be comfortable with a non-Chinese leader.
Singapore a Diverse Country
However, critics said PAP was itself insecure and uncomfortable with the notion. It should be noted that Singapore has had Presidents of minority backgrounds, such as Indian and Malay descent.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commended Tharman’s rise to President and looks forward to working together to help Singapore become a rich and diverse society. He said Tharman’s experience in public service has prepared him well for his new responsibilities.
And now they have a goal to build a more inclusive society. “Singapore is navigating its way forward in an increasingly troubled and uncertain world.”