Featured News Was Tharman Shanmugaratnam's father asked to be Singapore's second President?

Was Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s father asked to be Singapore’s second President?

Follow us on Instagram and Telegram

Mr Tharman's father, Professor Kanagaratnam Shanmugaratnam, was known as the "Father of Pathology" and has a hard-earned place of honour in Singapore's medical history, given his significant contributions to cancer research and healthcare in Singapore

SINGAPORE: As the country is abuzz with Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s announcement last Thursday (8 June) that he plans to contest the upcoming Presidential Election, a source who spoke to digital magazine Jom has said that the ruling party politician’s father was once offered the presidency, way back in the 70s.

Mr. Tharman’s father, Professor Kanagaratnam Shanmugaratnam, was known as the “Father of Pathology” and has a hard-earned place of honor in Singapore’s medical history, given his significant contributions to cancer research and healthcare in Singapore.

He established the Singapore Cancer Registry (SCR) in 1967 and served as director of SCR from 1968 to 2002, playing a pivotal role in shaping cancer research and treatment strategies in the nation.

Prof Shanmugaratnam is also widely regarded as an international authority on nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and his groundbreaking research in this area has significantly contributed to advancements in the diagnosis and management of the disease.

His impact extended beyond Singapore’s borders, as Prof Shanmugaratnam actively participated in numerous international organizations. He was president of the International Association of Cancer Registries from 1984 to 1988 and played a key role in the International Council of Societies of Pathology from 1974 to 1978.

Prof Shanmugaratnam served as the head of the International Reference Centre for the Histological Classification of Tumours of the Upper Respiratory Tract from 1972 to 1995, further cementing his global influence in the field.

Even after retirement, Prof Shanmugaratnam continued to contribute to the medical community. He was an emeritus consultant at the National University Hospital (NUH) and served as an emeritus professor of pathology at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

In a report published on Friday (9 June), Jom – which is founded by noted writer Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh – cited an unnamed source and said: “…one source told Jom that Kanagaratnam Shanmugaratnam, Tharman’s late father and renowned pathologist, was once asked by the party to serve as Singapore’s second president.

“He declined, and the role was instead filled by Benjamin Sheares (from 1971 to 1981). Now, at the second time of asking, the Shanmugaratnams have said ‘yes’.”

Singapore’s first four Presidents were all appointed to the role. Until 1991, the President was selected by Parliament and a constitutional amendment that year made the president directly elected by a popular vote, which was subsequently first held in 1993.

Four individuals have served as head of state since the elected presidency scheme was enacted. Interestingly, three of the four elected presidents have been People’s Action Party (PAP) politicians, while the remaining past president, S. R. Nathan, was a career civil servant.

If elected, Mr Tharman will not only become Singapore’s fourth PAP Minister-turned-President, but he will also be the third former Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) to clinch the role.

The trend of PAP Ministers being made president has led to questions on how independent these ex-politicians are, given their long careers as members of the ruling party. Mr Tharman, for instance, has spent 22 long years as a PAP politician.

While he declined to discuss in detail the issue of independence at this point, given that he has yet to resign from his political roles, Mr Tharman told the press yesterday (11 June):

“But those who know me, know me quite well. They know who I really am and my views. So I’ll talk about that later. I really don’t want to get into what appears to be a campaign messaging at this point.”

Tharman might become 4th PAP minister and 3rd DPM to become President, out of 5 elected presidencies

Tharman promises he will not be “on the same team” as the Govt if elected

Read also:

PE2023: Will Tan Kin Lian be a Goliath slayer? – Singapore News

PE2023: In the race, Lim Hng Khiang? Or Khaw Boon Wan? – Singapore News 

PE2023: Get a real president this time, we have already wasted six years – Singapore News

PE2023: Have a real contest or simply make it an Endorsed Presidency – Singapore News

PE2023: Restore integrity of the presidency, let’s have a real fight this time – Singapore News

- Advertisement -
Follow us on Instagram and Telegram

Follow us on Instagram and Telegram