Former MAS chair who called crypto ‘highly risky’ wins Singapore’s presidential race
Former MAS chair who called crypto ‘highly risky’ wins Singapore’s presidential race

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, former chair of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, has won the election for the city-state’s presidency with more than 70% of the vote.

According to multiple reports from Sept. 2, Shanmugaratnam defeated presidential candidates Ng Kok Song and Tan Kin Lian to become the next president of Singapore. He will be sworn into office on Sept. 14, less than two weeks after the election.

<em>Tharman Shanmugaratnam&#8217;s presidency victory announcement on Sept. 2. Source: Facebook</em>

In the lead-up to his presidential campaign, Shanmugaratnam resigned from his position in Singapore’s parliament and at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), where he served as chair from 2011 to 2023. He was also the country’s finance minister from 2007 to 2015. Under Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s financial regulator witnessed the collapse of Three Arrows Capital and Terraform Labs amid the 2022 market crash. 

The president-elect reportedly once called crypto assets “highly volatile” and “highly risky as investment products” in 2021 warnings to Singapore-based users in his role as MAS chair. The financial regulator granted an in-principle approval to operate in the city-state in June 2022, as well as exemptions for Bitstamp, Coinbase and Gemini Trust. 

Related: Singapore to require crypto firms to put user assets into trusts by year-end

Shanmugaratnam, as president, will become the head of state in Singapore, representing the country in diplomatic functions as part of a largely ceremonial role. He will be replacing Halimah Yacob, who served as president since 2017.

Following Shanmugaratnam’s departure from MAS, the financial regulator has announced a revised regulatory framework for stablecoins in Singapore as part of a public consultation launched in 2022. In July, Singapore’s high court ruled that cryptocurrencies could be treated as personal property akin to fiat money.

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