President S.R. Nathan, also known as Sellapan Ramanthan , was born in Singapore on 3 rd July 1924.
Nathan spent his childhood at Muar, Johor with his family. His father had been posted to the Malayan town as a lawyer’s clerk for a firm that serviced rubber plantations, but Great Depression and rubber slump of the 1930s sent the family’s fortunes crashing.
Nathan’s father accrued debts, and eventually killed himself when Nathan was eight.
Education :He received his primary education in Anglo-Chinese Primary School and Rangoon Road Afternoon School, and his secondary education at Victoria School. Nathan, worked as a translator for the Japanese Kempatai during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. After the war, he completed his secondary education through self- study and entered the University of Malaya ( then in Singapore) where he graduated in 1954 with a Diploma in Social Studies.
1971-79: Director, Security & Intelligence Division, Ministry of Defence.
As Director of the Security and Intelligence Division, he dealt with various terrorist acts in Singapore,such as the hijacking of Air Vietnam in October 1977 and the hijacking of a Vietnamese freighter(cargo ship) in 1978. The most noted was the Laju hijacking where Mr Nathan made his first public appearance.
1982-88: Executive Chairman, The Straits Times Press (1975) Ltd
Upon his retirement from the Civil Service in the 1980s, Nathan headed the Singapore Press Holdings, serving first as chairman in both the Straits Times Press and the Times Publishing Bhd., then overseeing their merger in 1984 to become the Singapore Press Holdings.
1955 - 1956 : Medical Social Worker, Singapore Civil Service with stints in Woodbridge and the Leprosy Centre
1956 - 1962 : Seamen's Welfare Officer, Ministry of Labour
1962 - 1964 : Assistant Director, Labour Research Unit, Ministry of Labour
1964 - 1965 : Director, Labour Research Unit, Ministry of Labour; later the Ambassador to Egypt in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1966 : Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, rising to the rank of Deputy Secretary
1971 : Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs
1971- 1979 : Director, Security and Intelligence Division, Ministry of Defence and serving as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence 1973 : Chairman, Mitsubishi Singapore Heavy Industries (Pte.) Ltd.
1979 - 1982 : First Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1980 - 1988 : Director, Singapore National Oil Company
Feb 1982 - 1988 : Executive Chairman, Straits Times Press (1975) Apr 1988 - 1990 : High Commissioner to Malaysia
Jul 1990 - June 1996 : Ambassador to the United States 1996 - 1999 : Ambassador-at-large 15 Jul 1996 : Director, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, NTU; the first for the institution. 18 Jul 1996 : Pro-Chancellor, National University of Singapore1 Sep 1999 : President of Singapore,
- After Nathan's appointment as President of Singapore, he took interest in building a caring society for the nation. He started the President’s Challenge initiatives in 2000. The initiatives has been a success so far, raising over $80 million dollars for more than 400 of its beneficiaries.
~ His contributions to the Hindu community include initiating fund-raising for the Sri Sivan Temple which was relocated from Dhoby Ghaut to Geylang East, starting the first Tamil-English kindergarten, and starting a family counselling unit for needy Indian families. Jan 1982 - May 1983 : Chairman, Hindu Advisory Board May 1983 - Apr 1988 : Chairman, Hindu Endowment Board Aug 1991 - Aug 1993 : Term Trustee to the Board of Trustees, Singapore Indian Development Association.
In 1956, Mr Nathan was appointed as Seamen's Welfare Officer in the newly established Registry of Seamen.
Several years later, Mr Nathan went on to serve in the National Trades Union Congress, leaving his indelible mark on the labour movement in Singapore.
Mr Nathan rose through the ranks of government service, and his impressive portfolio included senior appointments in various Ministries, culminating with his appointment as the Director of Security and Intelligence and as the First Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- While at the Ministry of Defence, Mr. Nathan proved himself as a selfless man with extraordinary courage.
In 1974, he successfully negotiated with the hijackers of a passenger ferry named Laju to secure the release of those who had been taken hostage.After retirement from government service,Mr Nathan served as Executive Chairman of the Straits Times Press,High commissioner to Malaysia,Ambassador to the USA, and the founding director of the Institute Of Defence and Strategic Studies(S Rajaratnam school of International Studies)
- Chancellor of NUS since 1999, President Nathan has extended his strong support to University initiatives and student activities. He has graciously hosted countless University events at the Istana and his regular presence as Guest-of-Honour for student activities such as the annual Rag and Flag Day has been greatly appreciated by our campus community.
President Nathan has provided strong support for the University's efforts to raise funds for its education and research. Under his distinguished patronage, the NUS Centennial Campaign, which was launched in 2002 at the Istana, surpassed its goal of $100 million ahead of NUS' Centennial celebrations in 2005. For the launch of the University's Annual Giving drive in 2005, President Nathan's personal letter appealing to fellow alumni to give in support of bursaries for needy undergraduates helped raise about $1million which went to assist many students.
His contributions to the Hindu community include initiating fund-raising for the Sri Sivan Temple which was relocated from Dhoby Ghaut to Geylang East, starting the first Tamil-English kindergarten, and starting a family counselling unit for needy Indian families.
1963 : NTUC medal for helping in the growth of a non-communist labour movement
1964 : Public Service Star
1967 : Public Administration Medal (Silver)
1974 : Meritorious Service Award with particular mention of his work towards "healthy, non-communist trade unions" and in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in building "a new ministry, give shape to its fundamental policies and also set up some of our first diplomatic missions abroad.