Ex-minister given top civilian honour

Ex-minister given top civilian honour
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Former senior Cabinet minister S. Dhanabalan has been conferred the nation's top civilian honour, the Order of Temasek (First Class).

Mr Dhanabalan, 77, is only the eighth person in Singapore's history to receive the award. It was last given to former president S R Nathan in 2013.

Mr Dhanabalan is a member of the Council of Presidential Advisers and the Presidential Council for Minority Rights.

He tops this year's list of 3,888 National Day Award winners, who include military staff, public servants, community and grassroots leaders and educators.

Former Singapore National Employers Federation president Stephen Lee, 68, received the Order of Nila Utama (First Class), another one of Singapore's highest state awards.

Six others received the Distinguished Service Order: non-resident ambassador to Israel Winston Choo Wee Leong; non-resident ambassador to Switzerland Tee Tua Ba; chairman of the Centre for Liveable Cities advisory board Liu Thai Ker; Gardens by the Bay chief executive Tan Wee Kiat; former Tiong Bahru MP Ch'ng Jit Koon; and former senior minister of state for education and the environment Sidek Saniff.

Sixteen people also received Commendation Medals for their contributions during the Sabah earthquake.

Mr Dhanabalan said in an e-mail that he is "gratified to be bestowed this honour".

"I have been fortunate to have worked with a team of outstanding and dedicated people whether in politics or the corporate world and we share this honour together.

"I continue to be blessed with people with the same qualities in what I am doing now."

He retired as chairman of Temasek Holdings in 2013 after a 17-year tenure.

This came after a career spanning over five decades in the private sector and in politics, 15 of them as a minister from 1978 to 1993.

He was also the chairman of Singapore Airlines from 1996 to 1998 and chairman of DBS Group Holdings from 1999 to 2005.

Mr Dhanabalan was appointed to the board of Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC last August.

He was among the founding board of directors when GIC was established in 1981, and had served until 2005.

GIC group president and former civil service head Lim Siong Guan said Mr Dhanabalan "possesses an abiding sense of duty to do all he can for Singapore's future".

"Mr Dhanabalan's deep understanding of the country's reserve management goals means Singaporeans today, our children, and our children's children continue to be in the forefront of his dedicated service to the nation," he added.

Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng said Mr Dhanabalan played a key role in shaping the investment company's "values and ethos as an active investor and shareholder, a forward-looking institution and a trusted steward".

"He was a leader, a mentor and a steward, steering the company through our transformative years against the backdrop of globalisation and volatility. His exemplary service as one of Singapore's outstanding leaders continues to be an inspiration to us all," Mr Lim added.

Mr Peter Seah, who is the chairman of DBS Bank, said that Mr Dhanabalan made significant contributions as one of the founding members of DBS.

"In the early years, we were known as the Development Bank of Singapore. He personally wrote the bank's prospectus and was instrumental in securing credit lines for the bank," Mr Seah added.


This article was first published on Aug 9, 2015.
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