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Who is Tharman Shanmugaratnam: Singapore’s Indian-Origin Presidential Hopeful

His economic expertise and contributions to public policy have earned him international recognition.

By Tarique Anwer
Updated on :
Meet Tharman Shanmugaratnam: Singapore's Indian-Origin Presidential Hopeful

Who is Tharman Shanmugaratnam: On Friday, more than 2.7 million Singaporeans are anticipated to vote in the nation’s first contested presidential election in over a decade. Former Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam aims to become the next head of state of the Asian financial capital in a three-way race.

The 66-year-old economist of Indian descent has made significant contributions to both the public and private sectors.His career has been illustrious, and he is highly regarded in his country and abroad. This year, Tharman initiated his presidential campaign with a pledge to evolve the nation’s culture in order to maintain its status as a “shining spot” in the world. He is one of the three presidential candidates selected according to stringent criteria.

With a bachelor’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics and a master’s degree in economics from Cambridge University, he is renowned for his contributions to the nation’s economic growth.

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Tharman Shanmugaratnam: Singapore’s Indian-Origin Presidential

Tharman, who served as Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister from 2011 to 2019, resigned from public and political positions in order to contest for president. He entered politics in 2001 and served as a minister for the People’s Action Party (PAP) for more than two decades. He is widely regarded as the PAP’s candidate, despite the fact that the party has no official say in the election process.

In support of his qualifications to become the next president of the prosperous state, he cites his extensive experience in multiple disciplines and the government. 1987 marked the beginning of Tharman’s public service career as Minister of Trade and Industry, where he worked on numerous economic policies and initiatives. In 2003, he became the Education Ministry’s permanent secretary after rapidly climbing the ranks.

During his tenure as the managing director of Singapore’s central bank, he played a pivotal role in guiding the country’s financial sector through global economic challenges, garnering praise along the way.

His political career has been distinguished by a number of achievements. In 2001, he entered politics as a member of parliament, and he has since held numerous ministerial positions. He has served as Minister of Finance, overseeing the economic policies and budgets of Singapore, and Minister of Education, emphasising on education reform and development.

During his tenure as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Responsible for Social Policies, he implemented policies aimed at reducing income inequality and assisting the most vulnerable members of society.

His economic expertise and contributions to public policy have earned him international recognition. In forums such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where he served as chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), he is regarded as a prominent figure.

If elected, he will be the third president of Indian descent. Sellapan Ramanathan (1999-2011) and Chengara Veetil Devan Nair (1981-1985) were the first two presidents with an Indian ancestry.