Tommy Koh endorses Tharman Shanmugaratnam for PE2023

Giving Tharman a big thumbs-up.

Brenda Khoo | August 22, 2023, 07:01 PM

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Singapore's ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh has expressed his support for presidential candidate Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

On Aug. 22, the former diplomat wrote on his Facebook account that he had "decided to support Tharman for President" after Tharman's nomination as a presidential candidate earlier this morning (Aug. 22).

Tommy Koh's reasons

In his post, Koh mentioned Tharman's opponents, Tan Kin Lian and Ng Kok Song, and said he is a friend to all three, and also that each candidate has his own merit. However, he has decided to support Tharman.

Koh gave five reasons for his endorsement of Tharman.

First, Koh said that Tharman is a "unifying leader" for all Singaporeans, and that he has "transcended race."

"The voters of his constituency, in Taman Jurong, have repeatedly given him a thumping majority in the General Elections," he added.

Koh mentioned that Tharman's marriage to a Japanese-Chinese lady, Jane Ittogi, is representative of Singapore's multiracial harmony. Tharman himself is Indian, a minority race in Singapore.

Custodial role

Second, Koh said that Tharman is "well-prepared" to exercise his custodial role over the use of the reserves, and appointments to major public service positions.

Koh noted Tharman's past accomplishments as Finance Minister, Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Chairman of the GIC’s Investment Strategies Committee. Tharman was also in the public service for over twenty years before entering politics.

Koh then complimented Tharman's "independent mind", "moral courage", and "integrity".

"If faced with an unreasonable request to use our reserves, I believe that he will have the courage to say, no. If asked to approve the appointment of an unqualified person for a key post in the public service, I don’t think he will hesitate to reject the appointment."

Singapore's representative to the world

Next, Koh is confident that Tharman "will represent Singapore to the world in an exemplary manner and fly our flag high."

Tharman has been appointed to join and also lead high-level international councils at the UN, IMF, G20, and the Group of 30, and Koh mentioned he is "highly respected."

Last but not least, Koh also expressed his respect for the "very good heart" of Tharman's wife, and said she was a "tremendous asset" to him.

Ittogi was the former chairwoman of the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), a position that Koh appointed her.

Tommy said that he was "very impressed" when Ittogi engaged art teachers to teach art to Singapore's prisoners, and organised an exhibition at the SAM with the artwork that were created by these prisoners.

"Jane cares for the poor, the disadvantaged and the marginalised," Koh said.

You can see the full post below:

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Top image from Jacky Ho, for the Institute of Policy Studies, NUS.