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Tony Tan sworn in as Singapore's 7th president

(Xinhua)

08:39, September 02, 2011

SINGAPORE, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Singapore's president-elect Tony Tan Keng Yam was sworn in for a term of six years as the seventh president of the republic on Thursday.

The 71-year-old former deputy prime minister with a formidable experience in finance took his oath in the presence of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chief Justic Chan Sek Keong.

The ceremony at the Istana was witnessed by cabinet ministers, members of the judiciary, lawmakers and senior civil servants. Tan 's wife Mary was also present, local Channel NewsAsia said.

Tan took 35.2 percent of the votes in the presidential polls on Saturday that saw four candidates competing. Another candidate, outspoken former lawmaker Tan Cheng Bock, lost by a thin margin of less than 1 percent.

Both President Tan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed the importance of unity for the nation in their speeches.

"I will seek to work not only with the government, but also with civil society and community groups to advance the interests of all Singaporeans, whatever their political persuasions," Tan said.

Tan, who used to head ministries such as trade and industry, finance, defense, education and health, as well as local bank OCBC as chairman and chief executive officer, said his experience might be helpful.

"I believe that my years in parliament, as a cabinet minister and in the private sector will offer a useful perspective. I aim to forge a constructive relationship with the prime minister and his ministers during my term in office," he said.

Tan was most recently deputy chairman and executive director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and chairman of Singapore Press Holdings.

The prime minister noted that the recently concluded general election and presidential polls were fiercely contested.

In the presidential election, some candidates had championed various policies while campaigning, even though policymaking is the responsibility of the government and not the president and the debate was intense.

But now that both elections are over, Singaporeans must come together again and move forward as one people and one nation, he said.

"Singapore faces considerable challenges. To surmount them, we must remain cohesive and united, supporting one another, and making tough choices together," Lee said.

He said the government will work hard to reach out to all groups and draw the people closer.

"As our president, you have an important contribution to make in promoting national unity," he said.

The president is the ceremonial head of state in Singapore with only custodial powers and veto powers for certain key appointments.

Tan said he will wield "the second key" to the country's reserves with utmost care.

A farewell reception was also held in honor of outgoing President S R Nathan, who had been president over the past 12 years.

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