S. Dhanabalan

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S. Dhanabalan bigraphy, stories - Singaporean politician

S. Dhanabalan : biography

August 8, 1937 –

Suppiah Dhanabalan (born August 8, 1937), also known as S. Dhanabalan, DUT(First Class), is a former Singaporean politician. He was a high-profile political leader in Singapore in the 1980 and held several cabinet positions in the 1980s and early 1990s under prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong.

Personal life

Dhanabalan is a devout Christian (Brethren) and attends a small church in Bukit Panjang – Bukit Panjang Gospel Chapel. He is married to Christine Tan Khoon Hiap and they have one son and one daughter.

Early life and education

Dhanabalan was born in 1937 to a Singaporean of Tamil Indian descent. He was raised as a Hindu by his father, A. Suppiah. But later in his life he became a devout Christian (Brethren). He went to Victoria School; and later to University of Malaya where he earned his B.A. degree in Economics, earning a Second Class Honours (Upper Division).

Career after politics

  • Nuri Holdings Senior Advisor 1994-1999
  • Singapore Airlines Chairman 1996-1998
  • Chairman, Temasek Holdings – 1996-Current
  • Chairman, DBS Bank – 2010
  • Chairman, Parameswara Holdings Ltd – Current
  • Director, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation – Current

Other contributions

  • Member, Presidential Council for Minority Rights – Current
  • Member and Council Chairman Emeritus, Asia Business Council – Current
  • Founder Member, Singapore International Foundation
  • Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) President 1996-2002

Early career

  • Administrative Officer (Ministry of Finance) 1960-61
  • Economic Development Board 1961-1968
  • DBS Vice President 1968-1970
  • DBS Executive Vice President 1970-1978

When Lee Kuan Yew was preparing for his successor, he identified a handful of ministers he considered suitable for the job, including Tony Tan, Ong Teng Cheong, Goh Chok Tong and Dhanabalan.

In his public account of why he chose them and what he felt were their strengths and weaknesses, Lee said his preferred successor was Tony Tan who is currently the 7th President of the Republic of Singapore. He felt that while the other three were all of prime ministerial calibre, each had a particular weakness: Goh was too stiff, lacking eloquence in public speaking, and Ong was too closely aligned with the Chinese-speaking masses, lacking appeal to other communities. In the case of Dhanabalan, Lee felt the 76% ethnic Chinese electorate was not yet ready for a prime minister of Indian ethnicity. Lee left the ultimate decision to the second generation ministers themselves, who went on to choose Goh.