Ahead of the September 1 presidential election in Singapore, Indian-origin candidate Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said that the city-state is now ready for a non-Chinese Prime Minister.
"Singaporeans today, compared with 40 or 50 years ago, look at all factors, not just race," Tharman said in an election meeting with guests from the public on Friday, The Straits Times reported.
Citing former US President Barack Obama, Tharman said in his 20-minute speech that "race is a factor in politics everywhere. “They look at people in totality... Singapore’s ready any time".
"If someone comes up who’s a superior candidate for prime minister, the person can be made the prime minister. I believe they can,” the 66-year-old leader stated.
It is a marker of Singapore’s progress as a society, he said at the meeting, which was held at Pasir Panjang Power Station.
“The answer to that (question) is before your eyes, when Singaporeans vote (for) a non-Chinese president," Jane Ittogi told the crowd, referring to her husband Tharman.
In his remarks, the former minister said that everyone should be recognised for what they contribute to society, and no one should feel that they are a nobody.
While material progress is important, “it’s the things we can’t measure that are critical to our future”, Tharman, who had formally launched his presidential campaign last month with a pledge to evolve the country's culture, said.
Apart from Tharman, senior investor Ng Kok Song and former income chief of the National Trades Union Congress, Tan Kin Lian, are in the race for September 1 election to choose the country's ninth president.
As the head of the city-state, the Singaporean president is empowered to veto government budgets and key public appointments, authorise anti-corruption investigations, and safeguard the country's fiscal reserve.