Biography of The President

President of Singapore
Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam

Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam was born in Singapore on 7 February 1940. He received his early education in St Patrick's School and St Joseph's Institution. Dr Tan graduated from the University of Singapore with a First Class Honours Degree in Physics in 1962, and went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he obtained a Master of Science degree. He later obtained a PhD in Applied Mathematics at the University of Adelaide.

Dr Tan started his career as a lecturer with the Physics Department of the University of Singapore in 1964, after obtaining his Master of Science degree. He joined the University again as a lecturer with the Department of Mathematics after obtaining his doctorate in 1967. In 1969, he left the University to begin a career in banking with the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), where he rose to become General Manager. He left OCBC in 1979 to enter politics.

Dr Tan was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1979 and was appointed Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Education. From October 1983 to January 1985, Dr Tan served as the Minister for Finance and concurrently as the Minister for Trade and Industry. From January 1985 to December 1991, he served as the Minister for Education.

In December 1991, Dr Tan stepped down from the Cabinet to return to the private sector as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OCBC. Dr Tan rejoined the Cabinet in August 1995 and was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence. In August 2003, Dr Tan was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for Security and Defence.

Dr Tan championed the development of higher education in Singapore as Minister for Education, Minister-in-charge for National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological Institute (1981-1983) and Deputy Prime Minister overseeing higher education (1995-2005).  Under Dr Tan’s guidance, university education in Singapore became more globalised and was made accessible to more Singaporeans regardless of their family or financial background.

Dr Tan was also part of the trade union movement.   He was appointed Chairman of NTUC Investment and Cooperative Committee in 1979 and served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of NTUC Income from 1980 to 1991.  In 1988 Dr Tan was awarded the NTUC Medal of Honour by the National Trade Union Congress.

Dr Tan retired from the Cabinet in September 2005 and was appointed Deputy Chairman and Executive Director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation Private Limited (GIC), Chairman of the National Research Foundation and Deputy Chairman of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council, and Chairman of Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH).

In July 2011, Dr Tan stepped down from his positions at the GIC and SPH to contest in the Presidential Election. He was elected on 27 August 2011, and was sworn in as the seventh President of the Republic of Singapore on 1 September 2011.

Dr Tan has been conferred numerous honours for his work. He was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal by the New York Foreign Policy Association for his outstanding leadership and service in both the public and private sectors. For his contributions towards Singapore’s development into a global hub of scientific research and education in his earlier roles as Education Minister and subsequently as Chairman of the National Research Foundation, Dr Tan was inducted into the Honorary Senate of the Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in July 2012. Dr Tan was also awarded the Great Gold Medal by Comenius University (Slovakia) and the King Charles II Medal by the Royal Society of United Kingdom.  He has honorary doctorates from the Loughborough University, Murdoch University, The University of Sheffield and The University of Adelaide.

Dr Tan married Madam Mary Chee Bee Kiang in 1964. They have four children (three sons and one daughter) and five grandchildren.

Career

  • 1964 Taught in Physics Department, University of Singapore
  • 1967-69 Lecturer in Mathematics, University of Singapore
  • 1969-79 Submanager, later General Manager, Overseas-Chinese Banking Coporation (OCBC)
  • 1979 Member of Parliament
  • 1979-80 Senior Minister of State for Education
  • 1980-81 Minister for Education
  • 1980-81 Vice-Chancellor, National University of Singapore
  • 1981-83 Minister-in-charge for National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological Institute
  • 1981-86 Minister for Trade & Industry
  • 1983-85 Concurrently Minister for Finance
  • 1985-86 Minister for Health
  • 1985-91 Minister for Education
  • 1992-95 Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd
  • 1995-2003 Minister for Defence
  • 1995-2005 Deputy Prime Minister
  • 2003-2005 Co-ordinating Minister for Security and Defence
  • 2005-2011 Chairman, National Research Foundation; Chairman, Singapore Press Holdings;
         Deputy Chairman, Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council;
         Deputy Chairman & Executive Director, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation

Amongst Honorary Awards

  • 1988 National Trades Union Congress Medal of Honour
  • 1994 Doctor of Science, honoris causa Loughborough University
  • 1995 Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Murdoch University
  • 1998 Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, The University of Sheffield
  • 2005 Eminent Alumni Award, NUS
  • 2006 Honorary Fellowship, Singapore Academy of Medicine
  • 2011 New York Foreign Policy Association Medal
  • 2013 Great Gold Medal Comenius University
  • 2014 Doctor of Philosophy, honoris causa The University of Adelaide
  • 2014 King Charles ll Medal Royal Society of United Kingdom