Indian-origin ex-minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam poised to become Singapore's president

Indian-origin ex-minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam is poised to become Singapore's president, winning a whopping 70% of the votes in a three-way contest. Tharman will become Singapore’s third Indian-origin president.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam
Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Singapore |  Tharman Shanmugaratnam was poised to become the president of Singapore after the Indian-origin Singapore-born economist won a whopping 70 per cent of the votes in a three-way contest involving two Chinese-origin candidates, according to the sample count result released by the Elections Department.

Apart from 66-year-old Tharman, the other two candidates in the race are Ng Kok Song, former chief investment officer with the Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC), and Tan Kin Lian, former chief of the NTUC Income, a state-owned union-based insurance group.

Song, 75, received 16 per cent, while Lian, 75, got 14 per cent, according to the sample count results.

The final result is expected to come around midnight. Tharman will become Singapore’s third Indian-origin president once the results are formally declared.

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 was quoted as saying by Channel News Asia.

The sample count is based on a sampling of 100 ballot papers from each of the 1,264 polling stations for this election and was done at the start of counting soon after polls closed at 8 PM.

The numbers are said to be fairly indicative of the possible outcome of the election, with previous sample counts typically having a confidence level of 95 per cent, plus or minus four percentage points, The Straits Times newspaper reported.

This means that the sample count estimate should not differ from the actual voting result by more than 4 per cent for 95 per cent of the estimates made, it said.

The Elections Department (ELD), however, said sample counts give an early indication of the election outcome but the “result could be different”.

Both Ng and Tan conceded defeat and congratulated Tharman.

“I wish him all the best in meeting the challenges ahead and I hope he will be able to bring a better life for the people,” Tan said.

“As far as I am concerned, there is no need to wait a few more hours in order to get the final result. The result is clear, and I want to say thank you once again to the people of Singapore,” Ng said.

Tharman formally launched his presidential campaign in July with a pledge to evolve the country’s culture to keep it a “shining spot” in the world.

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.

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