Biography of Suppiah Dhanabalan

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Ministry of Finance Suppiah Dhanabalan Biography
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Suppiah Dhanabalan (born August 8, 1937) was a high-profile political leader in Singapore in the 1980s. He was appointed to several heavyweight cabinet positions in the 1980s and early 1990s under Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong.

When then Prime Minister Lee 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 S 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.

Suppiah Dhanabalan felt that while the other three were all of Prime Ministerial material, 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 an Indian Prime Minister. Lee left the ultimate decision to the second generation ministers themselves, who went on to choose Goh.

Dhanabalan is a Singaporean of Tamil Indian descent. Raised as a Hindu by his father, the late A.Suppiah. But being a devout Christian (Brethren), he 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.

Supiah Dhanabalan Education
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  • Studied at Victoria School
  • B.A. (Economics) 2nd Class Hons (Upper), University of Malaya

Suppiah Dhanabalan 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

Suppiah Dhanabalan Career in Politics

  • Member of Parliament 1978-1996
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs 1980-1988
  • Minister for Culture 1981-1984
  • Minister for Community Development 1984-86
  • Minister for National Development 1987-1992
  • Minister for Trade and Industry 1992-1993

Suppiah Dhanabalan Career after Politics

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

Other Contributions

  • Member, Presidential Council of 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