‘Active foreign policy’ ensures Singapore’s interests are served amid global uncertainty: President Tharman


Mr Tharman was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a three-day state visit to Brunei that ended on Friday – his first overseas state visit. 

“The world order is gradually being eroded and is splintering. We have to take the world as it is,” he said.

“We are very small. We express our views, stand by our principles, but we have to learn to interact with countries as they evolve. And they don’t always evolve in a direction we may think best but that’s not ours to decide.”

Mr Tharman said he intends to be an “active” head of state, furthering Singapore’s interests abroad through his presidential duties and non-traditional roles such as chairing international bodies.

“Nothing I do is for private interest,” said Mr Tharman, adding that there may be some roles where he has to express independent views. 

“The term ‘private capacity’ that’s used in the Constitution, is a bit of legalese, but it simply means that there are some roles I could play internationally where I have to express independent views, so that we are credible when I’m chairing various bodies, for instance. 

“They are all in furtherance of my presidential duties and the national interests. That’s the basis on which Cabinet decides on which bodies I should play a role in and it’s working well so far.”

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