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NTUC welcomes Tharman Shanmugaratnam as Singapore’s ninth President

Labour Movement leaders also pay tribute to outgoing President Halimah Yacob.

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By Nicolette Yeo 14 Sep 2023
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Tharman Shanmugaratnam was sworn in on 14 September 2023 as Singapore’s ninth President at the Istana.

Mr Tharman garnered 70.4 per cent of votes out of 2.7 million eligible voters in the presidential election.

In his Facebook post on inauguration day, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng welcomed Mr Tharman as Singapore’s new head of state.

“The Labour Movement is confident that under his leadership and care, we will continue to effectively champion the interests and welfare of our workers and make Singapore a place where everyone has the opportunity to progress towards better lives and livelihoods,” he wrote.

In his swearing-in speech at the ceremony, Mr Tharman committed to working with the nation and its stakeholders to foster inclusivity and solidarity.

“As President, with the strong mandate you have given me, I intend to work with the Government, community groups and other voluntary organisations, and the entire nation to strengthen our multi-racialism and nurture a more inclusive society.

“I will do my utmost to support initiatives that deepen the respect we accord to our fellow citizens of all backgrounds and in every walk of life, the respect for all that is at the heart of our solidarity as Singaporeans,” he said.

Union leaders show support

Union leaders also welcomed Mr Tharman’s presidency, noting his natural ability to care for the ordinary man and woman in the street.

“He's a very kind, caring person. He’s a public figure and is well-known locally and internationally. The most important thing is that he cares for the people,” said Union of Telecoms Employees of Singapore Second Vice-President Sazali Absan.

“We have seen Mr Tharman in action over the last 40 years, and we think he will make a good President. We have seen him in the political arena, the international arena, and in interactions with people. He has the heart, cares for people, and can carry himself well,” added Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE) Consultant and AUPE Credit-Cooperative Chairman Yeo Chun Fing.

Former Keppel Employees’ Union General Secretary Joseph Phang added that Mr Tharman’s background in economics and social issues and strong connection with the ground are key to his new role.

“He understands the issues confronting the people of Singapore, so I think he will make a good President,” he said.

Tribute to outgoing President Halimah Yacob

Singapore’s first female president, Halimah Yacob, marked the end of her presidency at a farewell reception at the Istana on 13 September 2023.

She was sworn in as President of Singapore on 14 September 2017.

In his Facebook post, Mr Ng also paid tribute to Mdm Halimah for her leadership and efforts during her tenure as President.

“Your service to Singapore has been remarkable, and your compassion for our people has left a lasting impact,” he wrote.

Other Labour Movement leaders also took to Facebook on 14 September 2023 to honour her contributions to the nation and workers.

“Throughout her presidency, Mdm Halimah played a unifying role, bringing together the Government, communities, business, labour and civil groups to bring progress and prosperity to our economy, businesses and people. She has also earned deep respect from global leaders for her steadfast leadership.

“She spent over three decades with the Labour Movement, where she stood up for workers’ rights and advocated passionately for their interests. She championed programmes and initiatives to uplift the lives of workers from all walks of life, especially women, senior workers and low-wage workers,” wrote NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Desmond Tan.

NTUC U SME and U Women and Family Director Yeo Wan Ling also recognised Mdm Halimah’s efforts in uniting Singaporeans, particularly during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, NTUC Vice-President and Union of Power and Gas Employees General Secretary Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab praised her for making union leaders proud.