Dhanabalan inducted into Indian Hall of Fame

IRSHATH MOHAMED

Former Cabinet Minister S. Dhanabalan was among 15 individuals who were inducted into the Indian Hall of Fame Singapore (IHFS) on Saturday.

He was awarded the S. Rajaratnam Excellence Award for Political Achievement - Post Independence.

"This award is a surprise to me. Because I have not been very involved in the Indian and Tamil societies," said the 84-year-old.

"I am glad to receive this award and I hope this inspires others to come and serve the community.

"I never considered myself a politician who made a special contribution to the Tamils of Singapore but my focus was making a contribution to Singapore as a whole.

"I was active in SINDA and I tried to help the community as much as possible by using my administrative and business experience in promoting the welfare of Indians in Singapore."

Mr Dhanabalan served in various Cabinet portfolios from 1980 to 1994. He was Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for National Development, Minister for Culture, Minister for Community Development and Minister for Trade and Industry when Mr Lee Kuan Yew and subsequently Mr Goh Chok Tong were Prime Ministers.

"I have been quite active in work apart from my political office," he said.

"The work that I did when I was in politics must have attracted the attention of those who thought I could do something else. They approached me and I agreed. I am glad they did because I think I made a contribution."

"I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time. I was not known much as a political figure. I did more for the economy."

Mr Dhanabalan also served as the chairman of Singapore Airlines, Temasek Holdings and DBS Bank, Director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, member of the Council of Presidential Advisers and the Presidential Committee of Minority Rights.

"Minister Rajaratnam was one of the pioneers. He was the only Indian among the first group in the Cabinet," he said.

"I looked up to him and I am glad I had the opportunity to serve under him for a number of years. I learnt much from him. He set the political tone for our foreign affairs."

Mr Rajaratnam was Foreign Minister from 1965 to 1980 and Deputy Prime Minister from 1980 to 1985.

The IHFS was set up in 2019 to recognise Singapore Indians who have made significant contributions in various fields and professions.

The management council is led by former editor of the Indian Movie News magazine S.A. Nathan and the panel of advisers is chaired by cardiologist and community leader V.P. Nair.

The inaugural awards ceremony was held last year when former President SR Nathan was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame.

In this second iteration of the awards, which was held at the Singapore Recreational Club, Cultural Medallion winner Santha Bhaskar was posthumously awarded the IHFS Excellence Award for Performing Arts.

The IHFS-C. Kunalan Excellence Award for Sports Person was awarded to Glory Barnabas, a member of Singapore's golden generation of track and field athletes who won numerous medals at the SEAP Games from 1965 to 1975, former runner Maimoon Abu Bakar and P.C. Suppiah, Singapore's first long-distance runner at the Olympics.

The IHFS-C. Kunalan Excellence Award for Sports Official was bestowed on the late George Suppiah, a football referee who officiated at the 1974 World Cup.

Former Ambassador K. Kesavapany, late businessman Ameerali Jumabhoy, clinical professor Raj Mohan Nambiar, Dr K. Vellasamy, Justice Choor Singh, Singapore's first head of navy Jaswant Singh Gill and pioneer labour contractor and philanthropist B.Govindasamy Chettiar were the other inductees.

 irshathm@sph.com.sg

"I was active in SINDA and I tried to help the community as much as possible by using my administrative and business experience in promoting the welfare of Indians in Singapore."

- Mr S. Dhanabalan

 
 
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