Singapore president Tharman takes charge; survey shows young Singaporeans ready for non-Chinese prime minister

Today, the new President of Singapore, Indian-origin former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, takes oath of office. Yesterday, the results of a YouGov survey were published, showing that the large majority of young Singaporeans — classified as Millennials and Generation Z — believe that the nation state is ready for an ethnic minority Prime Minister, provided the candidate has the right qualifications.

The new President of Singapore, Indian-origin former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, during his hugely successful campaign in August 2023. The pineapple is his presidential campaign symbol. Photo courtesy: Instagram/

The YouGov survey statement, “I believe Singapore is ready to have a qualified, ethnic minority Prime Minister”, got an affirmative response from all the Singaporean ethnicities. Respondents who said yes to this survey statement were Chinese (60 per cent), Malay (73 per cent), Indian (68 per cent), and Other ethnic groups (68 per cent).

Though the two things are not directly correlated, the survey result reinforces the “respect for each and everyone” theme of Tharman’s election campaign.

The new president, who won a landslide victory over his two rivals, taking more than 70 per cent of the votes, had said after his win, “I believe the vote for me and what I stood for is a vote of confidence in Singapore itself, a vote of optimism in how we can progress together and support each other as Singaporeans.”

Tharman takes office today, following the farewell for outgoing president Halimah Yacob yesterday. Posting photos of the farewell on Instagram, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote: “Hosted a reception at the Istana to mark the completion of President @halimahyacob’s term, and to thank her for her service to our nation.”

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong bids farewell to outgoing president Halimah Yacob. Photo courtesy: Instagram/leehsienloong

Referring to the president’s role in the diverse nation that is Singapore, PM Lee wrote: “She has worked hard to strengthen mutual understanding, trust, and respect across diverse community groups. She took an interest in many worthy causes, especially those focussed on helping the less privileged. Her efforts to expand opportunities for all have made for a more united and inclusive Singapore, where all of us belong and everyone has a part to play.”

The younger people in Singapore believe in this diversity, as evident from the YouGov survey. The survey was undertaken following the election win of Tharman, and the respondents were 1,000 Singapore citizens, aged 21 and above, all interviewed between September 8 and 11, 2023.