By Rifat Halim
Singapore, May 19th 2011
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