Who is Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore's new Indian-origin president

He will be succeeding incumbent President Halimah Yacob

Tharman-Shanmugaratnam-Singapore-new-president Presidential candidate Tharman Shanmugaratnam gestures to supporters after polling has concluded during the presidential election in Singapore | Reuters

Indian-origin Tharman Shanmugaratnam, former member of Singapore's ruling party, has sweeped the presidential election by securing 70.4 per cent of the vote on Saturday.

Tharman, 66, is set to be the ninth president of Singapore and the third Indian-origin person to head the city-state. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Tharman over his election win. 

While talking to the media after his win, he said his victory was a vote of confidence in Singapore’s future.

Tharman had launched his presidential campaign with the slogan "Respect for All". He is the first non-Chinese presidential candidate to win the election in a predominantly Chinese city state. He was up against Chinese origin Ng Kok Song and Tan Kin Lian.

Incumbent President Halimah Yacob's six-year term will end on September 13. The elected president serves a six-year term.

Who is he

Born on February 25, 1957, in Singapore, Tharman is a multi-generational Singaporean of Tamil ancestry from the 19th century. Shanmugaratnam, served as Singapore's deputy prime minister between 2011 and 2019.

An economist by profession, Tharman was a senior minister in the Cabinet between 2019 and 2023.

He served as education minister between 2003 and 2008. He was also finance minister between 2007 and 2015, human resources minister between 2011 and 2012, and social policies minister between 2015 and 2023.

He made his political debut in the 2001 general election, and was re-elected to Parliament four times at subsequent general elections in 2006, 2011, 2015 and 2020.

He chaired the International Monetary and Financial Committee from 2011 to 2014. Tharman was the first Asian to chair the advisory committee of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Graduated from the London School of Economics, he completed his Master of Philosophy degree in economics at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge.

Tharman is the son of Emeritus Professor K. Shanmugaratnam, a medical scientist known as the "father of pathology in Singapore", who founded the Singapore Cancer Registry and led a number of international organisations related to cancer research and pathology.

He is married to Jane Yumiko Ittogi, a Singaporean lawyer of mixed Chinese-Japanese ancestry, who is actively engaged in social enterprise and the non-profit arts sector in Singapore. The couple have one daughter and three sons.

Tharman was a Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Taman Jurong division of Jurong GRC between 2001 and 2023 as a member of People’s Action Party (PAP).

Tharman has also served in Non-Governmental Organisations and chaired the Board of Trustees of the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA). He also chaired the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute and the National Jobs Council aimed at rebuilding skills and jobs for Singaporeans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 1992, Tharman was charged under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in a case involving the publication of Singapore's 1992 second-quarter flash GDP growth projections in a local newspaper. At that time he was the director of the Economic Department of the MAS. Later he was acquitted in the case.


📣 The Week is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@TheWeekmagazine) and stay updated with the latest headlines