Biography of Tharman Shanmugaratnam
Tharman Shanmugaratnam is a politician from Singapore. A member of the governing People’s Action Party (PAP), he has been the country’s Finance Minister since 2007. He served as the Education Minister from 2003 to 2008.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam Early Life
Tharman was born in 1957. He is of Sri Lankan Tamil ancestry. He studied at the Anglo-Chinese School, and subsequently obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the London School of Economics.
He went on to gain a Master’s degree in Economics from Cambridge University, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, where he received a Lucius N. Littauer Fellow award for outstanding performance.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam Career
Much of Tharman’s earlier professional career was spent at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore’s central bank and financial regulator, where he was the Director of Economics and eventually the Managing Director. He was awarded the Singapore Public Administration Gold Medal in 1999.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam Political Career
Upon entering politics in 2001, Tharman was appointed a Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Education. He then served as Minister for Education between 2003 and 2008. In May 2006, he was also appointed to the post of Second Minister for Finance.
In December 2007, Tharman was appointed Minister for Finance. He continued to concurrently hold the post of Minister for Education until March 2008.
In 2002, Tharman was appointed to the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the PAP, and is currently its Assistant Treasurer. He has been elected to the CEC at each of the biennial Party conferences since then. Tharman is a Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC.
Tharman was admitted to the Group of Thirty in June 2008. Also known as “The Consultative Group on International Economic and Monetary Affairs”, the group has thirty members, with Paul Volcker as Chairman of its Board of Trustees.
Tharman is also Chairman of the Ong Teng Cheong Institute of Labour Studies, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA).
He served for five years as Chairman of the Singapore-Liaoning Economic and Trade Council (SLETC), which was established to advance stronger links between Singapore and Liaoning Province, China.
Legal Charge and Conviction
While serving as economics director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore 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, Mr Raymond Foo, and economist Manu Bhaskaran, of Crosby Securities, and to journalists Kenneth James and Patrick Daniel of the Business Times.
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 Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam Private Life
Tharman is married to Jane Yumiko Ittogi, a lawyer of Japanese-Chinese parentage. They have four children, three sons and one daughter. All of his children are of school-going age in their teens.