On Thursday (8 June), Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced his resignation from the People’s Action Party (PAP), in order to participate in the upcoming 2023 Presidential Election.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Tharman described his resignation as “difficult decision”, further emphasized that the current period is marked by transition, both within Singapore and on the global stage.
He acknowledged the commendable progress of the ‘4G’ team led by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who have demonstrated effective leadership by actively engaging with th public and reevaluating strategies for the future.
He believed that he can now best serve Singapore “not in politics, but in a different role that has to be above politics”, and he be elected as President, he 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.”
In response to Mr Tharman’s letter, PM Lee said he and Tharman have worked closely in many roles for the last 27 years, and his departure from the Cabinet and the Party will be a “heavy loss” to him and his team.
However, PM Lee said he is confident that Mr Tharman will carry out President’s duties scrupulously and with the independence of mind Mr Tharman has always displayed.
“Overqualified” candidate for Presidency
The breaking news certainly caused a stir on the internet on Thursday. Several netizens commented on Singapore’s mainstream media’s Facebook page, expressing their confidence in Mr Tharman as a suitable candidate for President due to his broad experiences and significant contributions to the country.
Singaporeans preferred Mr Tharman as the next PM
Additionally, many netizens suggested that Mr Tharman’s qualifications and experience make him overqualified for the role of President.
With his wealth of experience and strategic thinking, they believe Mr Tharman would be a superior and preferred choice to become the next Prime Minister of Singapore.
They see him as the leader who can effectively guide the country through the current period of uncertainty and challenges it is facing.
A survey by market research consultancy Blackbox in 2016 showed that 69 per cent of respondents would support Mr Tharman as a candidate to be prime minister.
Previous reserved election for Malays “unnecessary” if minority candidates were to contest for the upcoming PE
Moreover, some individuals pointed out that if another minority candidate were to contest in the upcoming presidential election (pr), it would render the previous reserved election for Malays unnecessary.
The last presidential election in 2017 – a reserved election for Malays – was a walkover election for Mdm Halimah after two interested Malay candidates were disqualified by the raised qualification criteria for candidates from the private sector.
Indeed, netizens expressed confusion and wondered about the purpose of the previous reserved election and are still puzzled by the circumstances surrounding it.
Singaporean need another ‘people president’ after late Ong Teng Cheong
They expressed admiration for Mr Ong ‘s courage, conviction, and integrity in safeguarding Singapore’s reserves, even if it meant engaging in disputes with his former colleagues in the government.
Mr Ong’s actions earned him the respect from fellow Singaporeans, and Singaporeans hope for a similar leader who prioritizes the interests of the people.
Furthermore, there were voices expressing the desire for a president who is not merely a “puppet” that listens and blindly follows but rather someone who can genuinely take care of the citizens and fight for their rights.
They expressed concerns about having a president who may be perceived as a “rubber stamp” or one who aligns too closely with the ruling party, calling for an independent and strong advocate for the people’s welfare.