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Tamil of Sri Lankan origin appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore

By Rifat Halim
Singapore, May 19th 2011

Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Singapore’s Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore yesterday. His appointment was part of a series of new Cabinet appointments. He retained the Finance portfolio, a post that he has held since 2007.


Reflecting the retirement of two former Prime Ministers, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong, the new line-up features two Deputy Prime Ministers, Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

The new line-up, to be sworn in Saturday, was described by Prime Minister Lee as a “fresh” team chosen to start on a “clean slate” for the future in the context of the people’s message in the May 7 general election.

Mr. Shanmugaratnam is one of Singapore’s highest-profile politicians. He is currently chairman of the International Monetary Fund’s International Monetary and Financial Committee, which is the fund’s key policy-steering panel.

Elevated as Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Shanmugaratnam would retain Finance and assume charge as Manpower Minister and MAS Chairman.

Mr. Shanmugaratnam’s current elevation has political salience of its own.

Besides Finance, a major portfolio in the City-State with a global economic presence, he has now been entrusted with Manpower, a domain that includes the sensitive issues concerning the intake of foreign talent.

Mr.Tharman was born in 1957. He is of Sri Lankan Tamil ancestry. Mr. Tharman’s grandfather was from Urelu in the Jaffna district. He visited Sri Lanka in January 2005 after the Tsunami when he held the post of Minister of Education.

Mr. Tharman obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economicsfrom the London School of Economics. He went on to gain a Master’s degree in Economics from Cambridge University, and a Master’s degree in Public Administrationfrom Harvard University, where he received a Lucius N. Littauer Fellow award for outstanding performance.

Mr. Tharman’s father K Shanmugaratnam is an Emeritus Professor of Medicine. Prof. Shanmugaratnam has excelled in the field of pathology and was active in establishing the Singapore Cancer Registry

20 Comments

  1. Daya says:

    Good Luck. I think President of Singapore is also a Tamil ( May be former).
    This is a good example to Srilanaka, unless you change, you won’t develope.
    Development is good for all race in SL.

  2. Goodone says:

    This is good role model for Sri Lanka to think and adapt in the political leadership. But I am pretty doubt this will be considered in Sri Lanka due to narrow mentality of current political leadership.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Mr Thaman Shanmugaratnam for your fantastic achievement..

    Most Srilankans will be happy to see that Srilankan linked gentical progeny doing well.

    Mr Shanmugaratnam however ,didn’t do communal politics as we wittness in Srilanka,

    Mr Shanmugaratnam didn’t back or got involved in terrorist activities. Mr Shanmugaratnam or his Tamil brethren didn’t blow up Singaporean,. banks, buildings and religious places.

    They didn’t assassinate other political leaders.

    They did politics in the mainstream and opposed and supported various Singaporing Govts over time, in a proper manner.

    If the Tamil parties in Srilanka did politics the same way as their Singaporean counterparts, there could have been Tamils not only as Deputies but as PMs as well.,

  4. jagan sriram says:

    i would like to congratulate tharman shanmuganathan for becoming dy prime minister of singapore.it is a great honour and it is not the first honour for the tamil community which has created a niche for its own in different parts of the world.here it will be pertinent to point out that radhika sithsabesan who is also a tamilian of srilankan origin has become member of parliament in canada.unfortunately tamils who have gone up in the political hierarchy of the emigre nation dont do much to the tamils who continue to suffer let it be in srilanka or malaysia for that matter.what tharman ,radhika have to do is to highlight the sufferrings of tamils in srilanka fight for their rights.championing their cause cant be construed as an interference in another country becoz persecuted minority neither dont have democratic rights nor a forum to voice their grievances.i hope that tharman and radhika champion the cause of tamils of srilanka.best of luck tharman.

  5. Dinu says:

    It is good that Mr. Tharman is Deputy PM of Singapore because he is not a hardened capitalist unlike most of the establishment of that country which has been inventing, exporting and profiting from the “terrorism discourse” and “terrorism” industry of experts. Singapore is one of the top ten ARMS exporters in the world. They first talk up “terror threats” based on the dubious expertise of the likes of Rohan Gunaratne at Nanyang Technical University and then benefit by exporting arms to poor countries in Asia – which should be spending more on poverty alliviation. Terrorism is not only a self-fulfilling prophesy but also a very profitable discourse produced by the spurious “knowledge hubs” that that are concentrated in Singapore to generate and profit from “crisis talk” – whether it is the pharmasutical industry after the A!H! flu “epidemic” which was a lie invented to benefit the Phama industry which is also big in Singapore like the Arms industry. Let’s hope that Mr. Tharman will bring a different more socially aware less money mad leadership to Singapore – which its citizens want at this time since PAP suffered its worst defeat this year. Asia needs enlightened leaders

  6. Max Headroom says:

    Sri Lanka could have led Singapore to the 21st century if DS and Banda were statesmen. What can you expect of Chandrika when her father was a hypocrite but for the few days she spent at Sorbonne, she had the sense to have the services of late Lakshman Kadirgamar and made good use of him. If he was our Prime Minister then President could have won the war and the people but even after winning the war if he had inducted late Mr. Kadirgamar as his Prime Minister then his stature alone would have safeguarded Sri Lanka. None of Foreign Ministers before and after late Kadirgamar could even hold a candle to him. To me Murali, late Lakshman Kadirgamar, SF and SL defence forces are my personal heros.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What happened when Tamil political parties practiced proper politics as you say- your memory is selective.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations,

    There are many illustrious Tamils both in Sri Lanka and Singapore. Dont forget there were race riots too in Singapore. The leaders were hunted down and buried under paperwork and behind bars. Nobody complains about that or ask for human rights reprisals. Because there was economic development for ALL.

    Most Tamils or Malays in Singapore consider themselves Singaporean and thereafter their ethnicity. The Tamils in Sri lanka????/

  9. Siyambala says:

    Hey Did you find out what Hon. Lee-Kwan Yew has to say about “Sinhala” Sri Lanka?

  10. M. Arunan says:

    Singapore Finance Minister Gets Thai, Philippine Backing for IMF Top Job (Managing Director, replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn)

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-20/singapore-s-finance-minister-backed-for-imf-job-by-thailand-philippines.html

    “Tharman Shanmugaratnam was recently appointed chairman of the IMF’s powerful policy advisory committee. He’s the first Asian to head that committee, which is made up of finance ministers and central bank governors.”

    IMFC Selects Tharman Shanmugaratnam as New Chairman
    Press Release No. 11/96
    March 22, 2011

    http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2011/pr1196.htm

  11. Rajitha says:

    This is a good example for Sri Lankan Politics.
    Get rid of Rajapaksa regime and Ranil
    Bring the new generation to rule the country from all the communities
    One day We can be like Singapore

    THINK FOR OUR GENERATION FUTURE

  12. SAI says:

    MY BEST WISHES TO MR. THARMAN,I AM A SINHALESE PROUD OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR EDUCATION,YOU ANCESTORS ARE PART OF OUR COUNTRY.IN SRI LANKA THERE IS NO EDUCATION NEEDE TO BE A POLITICIAN,RAJAPAKSA THE PRESIDENT HAS NONE,NOW HIS HEIR NAMAL HAS ZERO,WE DO NOT HIDE FACTS.THE EDUCATED HAS NO PLACE ,NOW THE REGIME WITH RAJAPAKSE BROTHERS THERE IS NO FREE N FAIR ELECTION.WHEN SINGAPORE COMMUNAL RIGHTS WERE OVER IN THE 60″S..,WITH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE 70″S THE PEOPLE BENEFITTED,IN SRI LANKA IT IS 2 YEARS AFTER THE WAR HOWEVER RAJAPAKSE BROTHERS ARE MILLIONAIRES BUT PEOPLE CANNOT EVEN HV A SINGLE MEAL.THE DEVELOPMENT IS SO FAST THAT POCKETS OF THE CROOKED BROTHERS N AFEW ARE SOON TO BE BILLIONAIRES.THIS IS A PITY……..WE NEEDS BRAINS ,ONE CAN BE A TAMIL,MUSLIM,BURGHER ETC SOMEONE PLEASE STAND FOR THE RIGHTS……..

  13. spartacus says:

    Congratulations to both Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam. You follow in the steps of men who have done much for Singapore and need to do as well if not better. I don’t know though why Mr Shamugaratnam’s Tamil antecedents have to be emphasised while nothing is said of where Mr Hean’s ancestors came from. As far as I am concerned, they are both Singaporeans and I expect that is how they consider themselves to be – not being always conscious of their ‘Chinese-ness’ or ‘Tamil-ness’.

  14. tmorgan says:

    He follows in the footsteps of one of Singapore’s founding fathers S. Rajaratnam. Rajaratnam also co-founded ASEAN. http://viweb.freehosting.net/SRajaratnam.htm

  15. Anonymous says:

    Please limit your comments why not read the UN report, Tamils are Tamils, their flag will fly all over the world

  16. Waran says:

    Anonymous, Good to see you congratulating Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, there too, you wanted to Sinhalise his first name as Thaman, well, may be a typing error. The Rest of message shows your ignorance. The founder father of Singapore Mr. Lee Kuan Yew said in 1965; I have learned a lesson from Ceylon. Therefore he wisely introduced four languages Chinese-mandarin, English, Malay and Tamil as official languages . I hope you also, now can understand, why there was no need for state terrorism in Singapore. All citizens were equal and could live in peace and dignity. Hope you remember what Dr Colvin R. De Silva said in 1950′s “Two languages one nation, one language two nations”. Successive sinhala dominant governments with parochial mindset were the cause for the emergence of Armed Tamil Youths. More of the state terrorism created the end product that we saw among the Tamil youths. However, exaggeration of incidences and propaganda to demonise the liberation struggle got a firm foot hold in the minds of Sinhala masses. when repeated lies are spread by the politicians, these lies ultimately became as the truth. Two years into post war still the same hymns are sung by the So called patriots, a way of subjugating our brethrens. .

  17. So very proud of your achievements Tharman, both as a Tamil of Sri Lankan origin and a Singaporean.I recall another great son of Jaffna, my friend the Late Prof.Shan S. Ratnam, who was Chair of Obstetrics & Gynaecology for 25 years in the National University and became President of FIGO (International Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecology), with whom I collaborated with in IVF for over 20 years.
    It is so great to see Singaporeans honor and reward achievers like you, what ever their origins may be. Its a great place to work.We wish you all the very best in your new portfolio and good wishes from us at Monash in Australia. Henry Sathananthan http://www.sathembryoart.com

  18. Hussain Packir Saibo says:

    Sri Lankans should be proud indeed whatever they be Sinhalese, Tamil,Muslim,Christian,Buddhist or Hindu. We had Laxshman Kadirigamar as a shining example of a man who stood by his nation, a cultured gentleman who was more statesman than politician.Congratulations Mr.Tharman Rajaratnam

  19. Kumar Rajah says:

    Congratulations, Mr.Shanmugaratnam.
    I cannot understand why all this hallaboloo on your appointment.
    You are an educated man and an experienced man on Finance and the socio-economic factors not only in Singapore but also around the world. My vote is for you to lead the IMF.
    You are a Singaporean for the past so many years, and be one. You know there are so many arm chair critics who wait to split hairs when it comes to Tamils doing well.
    For example, You just tell them you are a low caste, and find where your place will be? Ha ha!
    So, don’t take all these negative and stupid e-mails seriously, but do your job well
    Good luck Sir.

    Kumar

  20. Waran says:

    Anonymous you are spilling the venom of racial hatred. There were terrorist activities between 1948-1976. There was only state terrorism. Just stop and think what this word means, no one is born a terrorist, they are made Why? in the case of Tamils, they face subjugation. No nation building was undertaken by the Sinhala politicians, they distroyed the country, Where Singapore first Prime Ministe Mr. Lee Kuan Yew in 1965 when he got separated from the Malaysian federation, He said that he had learned fron Ceylon, and he will not make theat mistake so he made four languages as the official language. If you don’t know Tamil is also an official language in Singapore. They only consider merit to give jobs, so you don’t have to bribe your politicians for jobs. There is lot to learn. Stop being parochial broaden your knowledge and be wise. All are born free and not slaves to others. Srilanka’s farlse propaganda that has gone on for over four decades is being found out by many countries. President MR is helping to isolate the country to fall on the laps of the Chinese.

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