Tony Tan Biography

Tony Tan Keng Yam is the current and seventh president of Singapore. This biography profiles his childhood, life, political career, achievements and timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: February 7, 1940

Nationality: Singaporean

Famous: Educators Presidents

Age: 80 Years, 80 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Aquarius

Also Known As: Tan Keng Yam Tony

Born in: Singapore

Famous as: Seventh President of Singapore

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Spouse/Ex-: Mary Chee Bee Kiang

father: Tan Seng Hwee

mother: Jessie Lim Neo Swee

City: Singapore, Singapore

More Facts

education: University of Adelaide, National University of Singapore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, St. Joseph's Institution, Singapore

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Tony Tan Keng Yam is the seventh president of Singapore. He was a bright student and attended the University of Singapore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Adelaide, ultimately earning his doctorate in applied mathematics. While he is best known for his political career, he started off teaching physics and mathematics at the University of Singapore and a few years later took a position as a banking manager at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation. Ten years later, he was elected to serve in Singapore's Parliament. He also joined the Singapore Cabinet and served in several different roles during his tenure including Minister for Finance, Minister for Education, among others. Outside of his Cabinet posts, he continued his work with the University of Singapore as Vice Chancellor. His emphasis on education and reform is a common theme throughout his career with many achievements in standardizing Singapore's educational system as the country reached greater economic heights. In 2010, he decided to run for the presidency and won in 2011. He has championed investments in society and encouraged fundraising and volunteerism among his constituents. His achievements and leadership have been celebrated with awards on many occasions by several institutions.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • After finishing his higher education, he went on to teach math and physics at the University of Singapore in 1964.
  • Five years later, he took a position with Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) where he worked for ten years.
  • His political career began in 1979 when he became a member of parliament and soon after was appointed a Senior Minister of State of Education.
  • In 1980, he joined the Cabinet of Singapore and served in several positions separately during his time in the Cabinet, including the Minister for Trade and Industry, Minister for Finance, Minister for Education and Minister for Health. He made some of his most important contributions during his time as the Minister for Education during which he made many changes to the educational system.
  • He oversaw the merger of Singapore University and Nanyang University to form the National University of Singapore in 1980.
  • He served as Vice Chancellor for a year at the University of Singapore and then moved up to Minister-in-charge for another two years until 1983. He was the youngest Vice Chancellor in the history of the university.
  • In 1991, Tan relinquished his Cabinet position, but kept his place in Parliament, and took up the position of chair and CEO at the OCBC.
  • He returned to serve in the Cabinet in 1995 and took the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence.
  • In 2003, he become coordinating Minister for Security and Defence but kept his position of the Deputy Prime Minister.
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  • After stepping down from the Cabinet for a second time, he assumed the chairman position of the National Research Foundation, deputy chairman of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council as well as the role of the Executive Director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and Chairman of Singapore Press Holdings Limited in 2005.
  • In 2010, he resigned from his positions and started his campaign for the presidency of Singapore.
  • He won the presidency in 2011 and remains in office currently. He is the seventh president of Singapore.
  • During his political career, he has steadfastly worked towards economic solvency for Singapore, while also pushing backup plans should economic crisis occur. His presidency is marked by his encouragement of social economy, termed "social reserves," which includes volunteerism and social movements.
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Awards & Achievements
  • In 1988, he was presented the National Trades Union Congress Medal of Honour for his work on elevating and preserving the economic status of Singapore during his time as Minister for Trade and Industry.
  • He was awarded the National University of Singapore Eminent Alumni Award in 2005 for his contributions to the institution.
  • Most recently, his leadership and service was honored with a medal from the Foreign Policy Association in 2011.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • He is married to Mary Chee Bee Kiang and they have four children - three sons and one daughter.
  • He modernized standards for education in his country by making significant changes to Singapore's educational system, including the requirement that students had ten years of primary schooling before moving on to higher or career-based schooling.
  • He has contributed to several institutions and organizations including his alma maters - the Singapore Dance Theatre, the Singapore Computer Society, SJI International, among others.
  • He created the term "social reserves" for his efforts in cultivating social movements and giving.
  • He was the youngest Vice Chancellor appointed at the University of Singapore.
  • His trademark symbol for his presidency is a pair of black glasses on white background.

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- Tony Tan Biography
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Last Updated
- October 05, 2017
Tony Tan

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