Listen to the Brilliant Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore

September 19, 2016

Listen to the Brilliant Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore

I admire and respect Singapore’s  Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam for his intellect, eloquence  and  leadership. He is a living example of what a meritocratic society can produce, irrespective one’s race, colour, religion  and political bent. It is a culture of integrity and competence that makes Singapore what it is today. Malaysia pales by comparison.

DPM Tharman’s official resume (below) is impressive.–Din Merican

The Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore


DPM Tharman has served as Deputy Prime Minister in the Singapore Cabinet since May 2011. He was also appointed Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies on 1 Octöber 2015. He is in addition Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore’s central bank and financial regulator.

He has spent his career in public service, in roles mainly around economic policy and education. He served as Minister for Finance for eight years, over 2007- 2015. He was Minister for Education for five years, over 2003-2008. He spent much of his earlier professional life at the MAS, where he was the Managing Director before entering politics in 2001.

Among his current responsibilities, he leads the Skills Future initiative, which seeks to build the skills of the future among Singaporeans, and empower them to learn at every stage of life.

He was appointed by his international peers as Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), the key policy forum of the IMF, for an extended period of four years from 2011, and was its first Asian chair. He is also a member of the Group of Thirty, an independent global council of leading economic and financial policy-makers and academics.

He chairs the International Academic Advisory Panel that advises the Government on strategies for the university sector. In addition, he chairs the International Advisory Council of the Singapore Economic Development Board.

Besides his responsibilities in Government, he chairs the Board of Trustees of the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), which seeks to uplift educational performance and aspirations in the Indian Singaporean community. He also chairs the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute.

He was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 2001 in Jurong GRC, and has been reelected three times since. He was elected to the Central Executive Committee of the People’s Action Party in 2002, and was appointed 2nd Assistant Secretary-General in 2011.

He did his schooling in Singapore, before studying at the London School of Economics and Cambridge University for undergraduate and masters degrees in Economics. He later obtained a masters in Public Administration at Harvard University, where he was named a Lucius N Littauer Fellow.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics. He was also made the fifth Honorary Fellow of the Economic Society of Singapore, in  2010.

Married to Jane Yumiko Ittogi, a lawyer by background and now actively engaged in community work and the non-profit arts sector. They have a daughter and three sons.

Copyright @ The Government of Singapore. All rights reserved.

15 thoughts on “Listen to the Brilliant Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore

  1. I sometimes feel that it may not be a blessing to have an extremely elitist society that breeds the so-called leaders who are intellectually arrogant. Kipling: walking with the princes and don’t lose the common touch. In the USA, Congress representatives have to be voted once every two years. The system makes them humble and close to the electorate. Politicians are not so well qualified academically as their Singaporean counterparts.
    Dr. Phua,

    They are intellectually deficient with inferiority complex, not intellectually arrogant; they have nothing upstairs, and dishonest to boot.–Din Merican.

  2. Mr. Tharman Shangmugaratnam, aks Shang Da Man, being the DPM of Singapore since 2011 , is a living proof that discrimination, like protectionism practised in any form,any country, is regresive and costly to India, (and particularly to Malaysia).

    The government of India had asked him to speak frankly and he did with substantive brilliance and clarity.

    There are so much to be learned from his brilliant lecture ..and life(as he pointed out) is a never ending process (Not our NEP, of course) in learning to meet new challenges for a better future in this fast changing world of information, communication and technology, going forward

    Perhaps, the government of Malaysia should invite him deliver a lecture and speak frankly and learn something valuable from him.

    But then, can the Umno Baru government leaders ever learn , repeatedly making the same blunders after blunders , since the 1981 RM 2.5 b BMF Loan Loss, the Mother of all the Scandals that followed ???

  3. If we put Tharman and Zahid, both being Deputy PM together … it will be a learning experience for scholars to contrast how 2 countries situated side-by-side can have leaders of such differing capabilities …

  4. Singapore non-Lee leaders are technocrats, without real vision of their own. They are highly qualified technocrats who can analyze, see the work and opportunities that should be done but that does not qualify them to be political solutioners. The big issues here highligted are well-know, the details including the suggestions are real contribution but hardly visionary. He is asking Indians to apply Singapore solutions of looking at long term, cooperation between entrenched interests but the fact is India has a deep trust deficit between entrenched interest and no good process for resolving it. If the trust deficit is too high, only very high opportunity is an opportunity for India and there are not that many of them..

  5. Singapore has reached an almost settled situation were the elitists helm the nation and the massive rest are content to have this condition prevail until anything better comes up in the long run. A good leadership and working bees is the binary relationship between the Government and People that keeps the country ever progressing.

    The concentric circle of elitists within power center is kept small and increasingly tightened to keep competitors (of different political persuasion) off. The impending amendment to the Constitution for elected presidency is a case in point. The new criteria for eligibility to contest requires, a person from the public sector to have good character and experience in managing a government entity with a budget/assets no less than $500 million. Likewise those from the private sector must have held senior executive posiions with shareholders equity of $500 million (increased from the previous benchmark of $100 million) and having earned profits continuously over the last 3 years.

    The above change to come has disqualified Dr Tan Cheng Bock from re-contesting the next Presidential Election due in 2017, which he said he would be contesting early this year. He contested in a four corner 2011 PE (when the bench mark set then was $100 million) finishing second and securing 34.85% of total votes cast against 35.20% obtained by Dr Tony Tan, the current President. On the proposed changes Dr Tan Cheng Bock had this to say:” It would be a sad day for Singapore if a Constitutional change was made because of an individual”

  6. “For Forms of Government let fools contest; whatever is best administered is best”

    — Alexander Pope

    The lazy, hazy days of when fools, buffoons, guerrilla fighters, pirate captains, adventurers could rule a country are over. Politics is now too critical to be left to professional politicians to fool around. But I could be wrong of course seeing how the USA presidential election may turn out.

    At the end of the day, I’ll rather have a Tharman as a PM than the best you can name in Malaysia.

    Someone said India is radically different from Singapore, and therefore the Singapore “solution” is not applicable? You mean the Singapore miracle was achieved in just 5 years? No, it was achieved in 50 years. 50 years ago if someone from India had given a frank lecture that the Singapore then, (a newly independent nation with zero natural resources), were to adopt the same policy, someone would have said, well, India with its vast natural and human resources is different from Singapore.

    Remember a journey of a 1000 miles……?

    Tharman actually was proposing a 1st step to India, his ancestral homeland. I hope those listening to him, mostly Indians, felt a visceral sense of pride. The fact that they asked him to be “frank” was telling. Perhaps they thought that he being part of the Indian diaspora would find it emotionally difficult or queasy to tell the country his forebears left behind to escape wretched poverty how to be rich and prosperous. This shows the Indians of India today have a long way to go.

  7. One most often quoted off the street commentary I get to hear from mainland Chinese is that “China is too big to be run like a Singapore, despite the cultural similarity”. I think there is some truth in that. The same applies to India also. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see how India and China could be so different in the way it is organized. It is definitely a humbling experience for anyone studying the subject matter of what makes a society ticks. Taiwan and Singapore makes an interesting comparison also. Hong Kong another interesting comparison.

    I pray Singapore would fare well and continue to excel for the years to come.

  8. /// katasayang September 20, 2016 at 11:35 pm
    One most often quoted off the street commentary I get to hear from mainland Chinese is that “China is too big to be run like a Singapore, despite the cultural similarity”. I think there is some truth in that. The same applies to India also. ///

    Yes and no. And the solution is to carve out the huge country into smaller chunks, or start with selected cities. This was how China benefited and copied from Singapore – Goh Keng Swee proposed to China to set up SEZs in the coastal cities first. Then go westward. Same for Vietnam – start with Industrial Zones. Same for India – Singapore is helping with the masterplan for 100 cities (not sure about the exact figure). Malaysia not so big – how about Penang for a start? Penang is certainly smaller than Singapore. How about Johor? And if that is too big, how about Johor Bahru?

  9. He is right to say India has yet to unleash its full potential.

    Like China, India is one of the oldest civilisation……..and the biggest democracy, unlike communist and dictatorship China.

    On a right path for a few decades, it is unstoppable and will become the greatest superpower in this region, making the US and western countries very comfortable.

  10. I think India’s caste system is a big drag to the socia-economic and political progress.It sensibilities need to be tackled and overcome realistically and willfully.
    or faces a bleak future going into the fast changing world of ITC and robotics.

    It has weighed on heavily on the culture and the unequal lives of the 1.3 billions Indians , 1/2 of which living below poverty line.

    It is , both a hindrance and burden to the country in opening up for greater investment (FDI) and free trades- being overly restrictive and protective against productive growth and development, although it’s the world largest democracy in terms of population anf politics.

    Also, the lack research facilities and opportunities have resulted in millions of talented and skilful Indians losing in migrations to the developed countries. Singapore, USA, Great Britain and several Euro-zone countries have benefited.

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