Sunday 19th May 2024
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Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s New Tamil-Origin President

Singapore Tamil, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, a 66-year-old former senior minister has been voted in as the ninth president of Singapore earning a landslide victory with 70.4 per cent of the votes.

Once Singapore’s finance minister and deputy prime minister, the former economist has also held top positions at global institutions such as the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He was educated at the London School of Economics, Cambridge and Harvard.

At one point, he was even tipped to head the IMF, and many hoped he would become Singapore’s first non-Chinese prime minister.

Many of his Singaporean supporters feel he will waste his potential as the president, which is largely ceremonial and holds little power. Merely a figurehead role, likened to the British monarch, and suitable for someone who is pleasant, uncontroversial and popular.

“I believe that it’s a vote of confidence in Singapore. It’s a vote of optimism for a future in which we can progress together and support each other as Singaporeans,” Mr Shanmugaratnam said in a speech before the results were announced.

Born in Singapore, and of Sri Lankan Tamil heritage, Tharman received an incredible 1,746,427 out of 2,480,760 votes.

He is the second Singaporean president of Tamil origin, a country where Tamil is one of the four national languages alongside Mandarin, Malay and English.

The first Tamil-origin president, Sellapan Ramanathan, also known as S. R. Nathan (of Indian Tamil heritage), served as Singapore’s sixth president from 1 September 1999 – 31 August 2011.