Tharman Shanmugaratnam

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Tharman Shanmugaratnam
தர்மன் சண்முகரத்தினம்
Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the official opening of Yuan Ching Secondary School's new building, Singapore - 20100716 (cropped).jpg
Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore
Assumed office
21 May 2011
Serving with Teo Chee Hean (2009)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Wong Kan Seng
Co-ordinating Minister for Economic & Social Policies
Assumed office
1 October 2015
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Position established
Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore
Assumed office
1 May 2011
Deputy Lim Hng Kiang
Preceded by Goh Chok Tong
Minister for Finance
In office
12 May 2016 – 22 August 2016
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Heng Swee Keat
In office
1 December 2007 – 30 September 2015
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Lee Hsien Loong
Succeeded by Heng Swee Keat
Minister for Manpower
In office
21 May 2011 – 31 July 2012
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Gan Kim Yong
Succeeded by Tan Chuan-Jin
Second Minister for Finance
In office
2005 – 1 December 2007
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Minister for Education
In office
1 August 2003 – 1 April 2008
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Teo Chee Hean
Succeeded by Ng Eng Hen
Member of Parliament
for Jurong GRC (Taman Jurong)
Assumed office
3 November 2001
Preceded by Ravindran Ramasamy (Bukit Timah GRC – Jurong)
Constituency Jurong GRC (Taman Jurong) (2001)
Personal details
Born (1957-02-25) 25 February 1957 (age 60)
Political party People's Action Party (2001)
Spouse(s) Jane Yumiko Ittogi
Alma mater Anglo-Chinese School,
London School of Economics,
University of Cambridge,
Harvard University

Tharman Shanmugaratnam (Chinese: 尚达曼; pinyin: Sháng Dámàn; Tamil: தர்மன் சண்முகரத்தினம்; born 25 February 1957) is a Singaporean policy-maker and politician. He is currently Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies. He is also Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore's central bank and financial regulator.

Tharman is also Chairman of the Group of Thirty, an independent global council of leading economic and financial policy-makers, having succeeded Jean-Claude Trichet in Jan 2017. In Apr 2017, he was appointed as Chairman of the G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance, to review the system of multilateral financial institutions. He was previously 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 March 2011; he was its first Asian chair.

He has spent his working life in public service, in roles related to economic policy and education. He served as Minister for Finance for eight years, over 2007 to 2015,[1] and as Minister for Education for five years, over 2003 to 2008.[2] He was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in 2011.

Tharman is a Board member of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and chairs its Investment Strategies Committee.

Tharman chaired the tripartite Council for Skills, Innovation and Productivity (CSIP) until May 2017, which developed programmes to spur industry transformation and job upskilling across the economy.. He also chairs the International Advisory Council of the Singapore Economic Development Board, and the International Academic Advisory Panel that advises the Government on strategies for the university sector.


Tharman served as the Chief Executive of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in 1998, before he entered politics in 2001.

Political career[edit]

Tharman was elected to Parliament at the 2001 general election. Following the election, he was a Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Education. He then served as the Minister for Education from 2003 to 2008. In May 2006, he was also appointed to the post of Second Minister for Finance.[3]

In December 2007, Tharman was appointed as Minister for Finance. He continued to concurrently hold the post of Minister for Education until March 2008.[4]

In June 2008, Tharman was admitted to the Group of Thirty (also known as the 'Consultative Group on International Economic and Monetary Affairs'). This international body is made up of 30 leading financiers and academics, with Paul Volcker as the Chairman of its Board of Trustees.

In March 2011, Tharman was appointed by his international peers as the Chairman of the policy steering committee of the IMF, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC).[5][6] He was the first Asian to head the IMFC, coming after Youssef Boutros Ghali, Egypt's former Minister of Finance, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, who had been Italy's Economy and Finance Minister, and Gordon Brown, the United Kingdom's Chancellor of the Exchequer, who chaired the committee for eight years until he became Prime Minister.[7][8] In announcing Tharman's selection, the IMF said that his "broad experience, deep knowledge of economic and financial issues, and active engagement with global policy makers will be highly valuable to the IMFC".[5][6]

Tharman succeeded Jean-Claude Trichet as Chairman of the Group of Thirty, an independent global council of leading economic and financial policy-makers from January 1, 2017. He has been a member of the Group since 2008.

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

At the 2011 general election, Tharman's team in Jurong Group Representation Constituency (Jurong GRC) won 66.96% of votes against the team from the National Solidarity Party.[9]

Following the 2011 election, Tharman was appointed as one of two Deputy Prime Ministers of Singapore. He was also appointed as the Minister for Manpower from May 2011 to July 2012, in addition to his role as the Minister for Finance.

After the 2015 general election, Tharman was appointed as the Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies.[1] He remains Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Tharman covered Heng Swee Keat's duties at the Finance Ministry after Heng had a stroke during a Cabinet meeting, on 12 May 2016. Tharman relinquished his appointment as the Covering Minister for Finance after Heng Swee Keat resumed his duties on 22 August 2016.

Legal charge and conviction[edit]

While serving as Director of the Economics Department of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in 1993, Tharman was charged under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in a case involving the release of Singapore's 1992 second-quarter flash projections to a research director, Raymond Foo, and economist Manu Bhaskaran, of Crosby Securities, and to journalist Kenneth James and editor Patrick Daniel of the Business Times.[10]

The OSA case, which stretched over more than a year, was reported extensively in the Singapore press. Tharman contested and was eventually acquitted of the charge of communicating the GDP growth flash projections. Senior District Judge Richard Magnus then introduced a lesser charge of negligence, because the prosecution's case was that the figures were seen on a document that he had with him at a meeting with the private economists which he had attended with one of his colleagues. Tharman contested this lesser charge too, and took to the witness stand for a few days.

The court nevertheless convicted him together with all the others in the case, including the editor of Business Times newspaper which published the figures. Tharman was fined S$1,500, and the others S$2,000. As there was no finding that he knowingly communicated any classified information, the case did not pose any hurdle to his subsequent appointment as the Managing Director of the MAS, or to his subsequent higher national responsibilities.


Tharman attended Anglo-Chinese School, where his contemporaries included former Attorney-General Steven Chong and his successor and incumbent V. K. Rajah.[11] He went on to London School of Economics (LSE), where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics; LSE subsequently honored him with an Honorary Fellowship in 2011.[12] He subsequently obtained a master's degree in economics from the University of Cambridge, and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University, where he also received a Lucius N. Littauer Fellow award for outstanding performance and potential.

Personal life[edit]

Tharman is a Singaporean of Ceylonese Tamil ancestry,[13][14] and is a Hindu. One of three children, Tharman is the son of Emeritus Professor K. Shanmugaratnam,[14] a renowned histopathologist known as the "father of pathology in Singapore" and also a founding director of the Singapore Cancer Registry and founding member of the Singapore Medical Association.[15][16][17]

He is married to Jane Yumiko Ittogi, a lawyer of Chinese-Japanese heritage.[18] She is actively engaged in social enterprise and the non-profit arts sector. The couple have a daughter and three sons.

Since 1995, Tharman has a Chinese translation of his name, Sháng Dámàn (尚达曼), which was given by a leading language specialist.[18]


  1. ^ a b Singapore, CNA. "PM Lee and Singapore's new Cabinet sworn in". CNA. 
  2. ^ May Wong (29 March 2008). "PM Lee unveils cabinet changes". Channel News Asia. Singapore. 
  3. ^ The Government of Singapore (21 June 2006). "The Cabinet – Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam". 
  4. ^ Asha Popatlal (29 November 2007). "PM Lee to relinquish Finance Minister post, Tharman takes over". Channel News Asia. Singapore. 
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Michael Richardson (22 October 1993). "Singapore Puts Top Prosecutor on News Leak". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ "ACS old boys turn up in white & blue for reunion". The Straits Times. 31 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "LSE announces its new Honorary Fellows". 
  13. ^ "Mutton munchy". The Straits Times. 12 July 2015. 
  14. ^ a b "Tamils in Federated Malaya and Singapore". Daily News. 19 February 2016. 
  15. ^ "Aiyoh! After 16 years, he still can't say 'lah'". The New Paper. Courtesy of 4 September 2010. 
  16. ^ "Interview with Emeritus Professor K Shanmugaratnam" (PDF). SMA News. Singapore Medical Association. 38 (5). May 2006. 
  17. ^ "Working Overtime". The Straits Times. Courtesy of 1 May 2010. 
  18. ^ a b "Try discipline with love – Acting Education Minister Tharman: My kids, their Mandarin and their future in China". The New Paper. Singapore. 9 June 2004. Archived from the original on 22 January 2008. (The canes) are for his three sons, aged 10, 12 and 13 and an 8-year-old daughter; His lawyer-wife, Madam Jane Yumiko Ittogi, is of Japanese-Chinese parentage and can speak Teochew; Mr Tharman revealed that the Chinese translation of his name, Shang Da Man, was given by a language specialist in 1995. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Teo Chee Hean
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Ng Eng Hen
Preceded by
Second Minister for Finance
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Lee Hsien Loong
Minister for Finance
Succeeded by
Heng Swee Keat
Preceded by
Gan Kim Yong
Minister for Manpower
Succeeded by
Tan Chuan-Jin
Preceded by
Wong Kan Seng
Deputy Prime Minister
New office Co-ordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies
Parliament of Singapore
New constituency Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC
(Taman Jurong)