Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute (OTCi) Chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam expressed on Nomination Day his gratitude to the workers and union leaders who were lending their support to the presidential hopeful.
Nomination Day for the ninth Singapore President was held on 22 August 2023 at the People’s Association headquarters.
Mr Tharman said: “I'm very glad they're supporting me because I've been with the Labour Movement for a long time. Both chairing the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute for 22 years, in fact, but also supporting the Labour Movement through policymaking – the Progressive Wage Model, Workfare, and all the other efforts we're making to improve lives for ordinary Singaporeans.
“So, I'm running not on the basis of new positions and new statements but on the basis of a long-held purpose in my life that I believe in a fairer, more compassionate and more inclusive society. And my life is dedicated to that.”
Mr Tharman, 66, submitted his nomination papers for his presidential bid and two other presidential hopefuls – former GIC Chief Investment Officer Ng Kok Song, 75, and former NTUC Income CEO Tan Kin Lian, 75.
The presidential election is scheduled to be held on 1 September 2023. Incumbent President Halimah Yacob had earlier expressed that she would not seek re-election.
The new Singapore President must be sworn in by 14 September 2023.
In his two-minute speech following the announcement of the candidates, Mr Tharman paid tribute to the two other presidential candidates.
“I look forward to a fair, dignified, and honourable contest – focused on what each of us brings to Singaporeans and what each of us brings for our future,” he said.
Mr Tharman said that as Singapore progresses into the future, it will face more difficulties and challenges. He added that he was running for office to offer his experience and capabilities to the nation nationally and internationally.
“Let’s look forward to a campaign that is fair and honourable and a campaign that itself seeks to unite Singaporeans and not divide us,” he said.
On Nomination Day, some 250 workers and union leaders braved the scorching sun to show their support for Mr Tharman.
Union of Telecom Employees of Singapore (UTES) General Secretary Thuvinder Singh said that Mr Tharman had been a strong advocate for training local workers. He added that the presidential hopeful would bode well as a representative of Singapore on the international stage.
“He has been a public figure for us [Singaporeans], and many of us look up to him. On the international front, he is a very good economist and has done well to fly our Singapore flag high,” said Mr Thuvinder, an NTUC Central Committee member.
Supply Chain Employees' Union General Treasurer Jackie Leung came to show her support because she believes Mr Tharman had always advocated policies that benefit workers.
“Besides the Progressive Wage Model, he advocated policies enhancing social safety nets. We appreciate his commitment to improving the rights and welfare of workers,” she said.
Read more about Mr Tharman’s contributions to the Labour Movement here.