SINGAPORE: Singaporeans have given Tharman Shanmugaratnam a resounding mandate to be Singapore’s ninth president.
The 66-year-old former senior minister scored a big win with 70.4 per cent of the vote, while Ng Kok Song and Tan Kin Lian received 15.72 per cent and 13.88 per cent, respectively.
Even before the official result was announced by Returning Officer Tan Meng Dui at 12.22am, it was clear who the winner was.
The sample count released at about 10.40pm showed Tharman leading with 70 per cent, while Mr Ng and Mr Tan were trailing with 16 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively.
Addressing the media at Taman Jurong Market and Food Centre shortly after that, Mr Tharman said he was “humbled by the strong endorsement that Singaporeans have given to me”.
“I believe that the vote for me and what I stand for is a vote of confidence in Singapore... It is a vote of optimism for a future in which we can progress together,” he said.
He also thanked his fellow candidates for making the presidential election a worthy contest.
He spoke about the future he envisioned for Singapore – one where people have deeper respect for one another, and where every generation gets the confidence of knowing that Singapore has reserves that will help the people in the future.
“It has to be a future in which Singapore is never treated as just another small country, a future where we are taken seriously in the world, we are a partner of choice, and where we can project our voice of reason internationally,” he said.
Earlier at 10pm, when he arrived in Jurong, where he served as an MP for 22 years, Tharman was mobbed by jubilant supporters holding up pineapples as he made his way through the centre.
He was greeted with chants of “ong lai” and “huat ah”, referring to his campaign symbol of a pineapple. Ong lai means pineapple in Hokkien, and it symbolises prosperity and good fortune to come.
His supporters erupted into loud cheers once the sample count result was in.
In a statement released after the official result, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he had called Tharman to congratulate him, and assured him of his Government’s full cooperation.
Tharman had also declared his intention to work closely with the Government, said PM Lee.
Noting Tharman’s long and distinguished record of public service, PM Lee said he had every confidence that Tharman would carry out his duties as president with distinction.
“Singaporeans have chosen Tharman Shanmugaratnam to be our next president by a decisive margin... I thank the three candidates for putting themselves forward in this presidential election,” he added.
He said he was happy that Singaporeans were able to exercise the right to vote for their next president, and to focus on what the elected president is about.
“Now that the election is over, let us come together again as Singaporeans, to tackle the challenges ahead and build a stronger and more united nation,” said PM Lee.
More than 2.5 million Singaporeans went to the polls on Friday at 1,264 polling stations across the island, after nine busy days of hustings and a calm Cooling-off Day on Thursday.
There were 2,480,760 votes cast for the candidates, while 50,152 votes were rejected – 1.98 per cent of votes cast. Voter turnout was over 93 per cent of eligible voters.
Many Singaporeans decided to have an early start to their public holiday and long weekend, with long queues seen at polling stations at 8am as some faced issues with the voter e-registration system.
Several polling stations had queues of about 200 people at one point, according to data from the VoteQ website, which voters could check to see the queue status of their polling stations. - The Straits Times/ANN