'Not just a charity': Tharman on helping the disadvantaged in S'pore

"Earn their trust, respect them, and help to develop themselves," Tharman said.

Brenda Khoo | August 25, 2023, 04:47 PM

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"It's not just a charity," said Tharman about helping the disadvantaged community of Singapore.

Presidential candidate Tharman Shanmugaratnam was speaking to the media during a doorstop at the Amoy Street Food Centre on Aug. 25.

Meeting the lunchtime CBD crowd

When asked why he chose Amoy Street Food Centre as his doorstop, Tharman said that he wanted to reach out to the office workers in the CBD district.

There, he also met several of his former colleagues.

He said,

"It's a good opportunity meeting with the professional crowd, youngish, but also not so young."

Tharman added that he had just spoken to a group of middle-aged people in their late 40s and early 50s about their job security.

"Fortunately, their jobs are secure," he said.

No comments on "tactical" statements by other candidates

Earlier today, fellow presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian said that he believes voters will want to "have a chance" to have their President and First Lady to be "true Singaporeans from birth".

Tharman was asked if he had any response to that, Tharman said that he does not wish to reply to the "tactical statement" made by Tan.

"I had nothing against George Goh," he said. "He was born in Malaysia, worked very hard... and succeeded. I thought it was a good story."

"I let people judge by themselves," Tharman added before reiterating that he rather not comment on any particular statements made by other candidates as that is "not [his] style".

Helping the disadvantaged is not just a charity

When asked about his charity plans, Tharman said, "It is not just a charity."

He explained,

"It's actually developing people and engaging on the ground in ways that give everyone respect."

Tharman continued and said that he tended to be "very active on the ground", and has shown support for societal efforts that gives confidence to people, especially the disadvantaged.

His way of engaging the disadvantaged is to "earn their trust, respect them, and help to develop themselves."

Tharman and his wife Jane Ittogi have been active in championing for the disadvantaged.

Their efforts were endorsed by Professor Tommy Koh, who had previously appointed Ittogi to be the former chairman of the Singapore Arts Museum.

During her time as chairman, Ittogi organised art classes and an art exhibition for local prisoners to create and showcase their artworks.

If he is elected as President, Tharman promised that he would "scale up" community actions through "very regular engagement" with the disadvantaged.

He added,

"It is not easy to overcome a disadvantaged background. It is not easy, and we got to stay with people through their life and give them real confidence in themselves."

Tharman's budget on the presidential campaign

On the issue of the budget on his presidential campaign, Tharman assured that his budget was "well within the ELD requirements".

He said further,

"It's a very low budget... I have spent much less on social media compared to some others. I spend in some traditional ways, but all operating within the budget."

He also cited Singapore's tight rules on spending money in politics, "if not the tightest, one of the tightest rules anywhere in the world."

"And we should stick to that," he added.

Tharman will be holding a townhall meeting at the Pasir Panjang Power Station later in the evening from 6pm to 9.30pm.

The event is open to the public but by registration only.

Top image from Tharman Shanmugaratnam/Facebook.