Sellapan Ramanathan (3 July 1924 - 22 August 2016) is a Singaporean politician who was the sixth President of the Republic of Singapore. Usually referred to as S. R. Nathan, he was first sworn in on 1 September 1999. In 1999 and 2005, he was elected President in uncontested elections. In 2009, he surpassed Benjamin Sheares to become Singapore's longest-serving President. His 12-year term ended on 31 August 2011. S.R. Nathan passed away on 22 August 2016, because of the stroke that he has since 31 July 2016.[1][2][3]

Nathan, a Tamil, is married to Urmila (Umi) Nandi, a Bengali of Indian descent. They have a daughter, a son, and two grandchildren.


Early lifeEdit

Nathan is a Singaporean of Tamil and Viswakarma descent; his childhood was spent with his two older brothers and grandparents, V. Sellapan and Apiram, in Muar, Johor, in a house overlooking the sea. His father had been posted to the Malayan town as a lawyer's clerk for a firm that serviced rubber plantations, but the 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.

The young Nathan returned to his birthplace, Singapore, to live. He received his primary education in Anglo-Chinese Primary School and Rangoon Road Afternoon School, and his secondary education at Victoria School. He started working before completing his studies. During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, Nathan worked for the Japanese Civilian Police as a translator. After the war, whilst working, 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 (Distinction).Template:Citation needed

Becoming PresidentEdit

During the presidential elections in 1999, a Straits Times survey showed that nearly 80 per cent of Singaporeans hoped for a contest. Nathan was elected unopposed as President on 18 August 1999. His nomination was strongly supported by Lee Kuan Yew. He succeeded the fifth President of Singapore, the late Ong Teng Cheong, and was sworn in on 1 September 1999.

On 12 July 2005, Nathan announced that he was seeking re-election as President. He submitted an eligibility application to the Presidential Elections Committee; by 6 August 2005, three more people had also submitted forms. On 13 August 2005, after considering the candidates' applications, the Committee issued a Certificate of Eligibility to Nathan, but declined to do so for the other candidates. Nathan returned unopposed on nomination day, 17 August 2005. He was sworn in for a second term of office on 1 September 2005 as he is Singapore's first ever 2-term President in office.[4]

Post PresidencyEdit

On 1 July 2011, he announced that he would not be seeking a third term in office as President. He cited age as one of the reasons, saying that he did not believe he could undertake indefinitely the heavy responsibilities and physical demands of the position of Head of State at the age of 87 and he left office on 1 September 2011, succeeded by President-elect, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam.[5] A few weeks later, his book titled "An Unexpected Journey--Path to the Presidency" was launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

In 2012, the Indian government conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman to Nathan in recognition of his contribution in building closer links between Singapore and India.[6]

As President, S.R. Nathan has been the university patron of Singapore Management University from 2000 to 2011, and after he completed his term of office, he became a distinguished Senior Fellow of the SMU School of Social Sciences. He held a similar position at Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS). In 2015, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of NUS gave him its Distinguished Arts and Social Sciences Alumni Award for lifetime achievement.


Former president S.R. Nathan was warded in Singapore General Hospital on 23 April 2015, after he suffered a stroke last Thursday. The last person who had a stroke is Chiam See Tong, which is in 2011. Mr Nathan first came along during the Japanese occupation, when Lee Kuan Yew was serving National Service.

Mr Nathan, who previously was frequently seen taking walks along East Coast Park, said in an interview with The Straits Times in January that he had not been able to do so for more than six months.

On 26 August, a state funeral was held to honour Nathan. His body was conveyed by a ceremonial 25-pounder gun carriage from Parliament House to the University Cultural Centre of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The state funeral procession passed by landmarks of significance to his life, including City Hall, where he had attended three National Day Parades; The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, formerly the Fullerton Building which had housed the Marine Department where he had worked; and NTUC Centre, recalling Nathan's time in the labour movement. Speakers who delivered eulogies at the state funeral included Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Ambassadors-at-Large Tommy Koh and Gopinath Pillai. The music played at the ceremony included the song "Thanjavooru Mannu Eduthu" ("The Sands of Thanjavur") from the Tamil film Porkkaalam (Golden Age, 1997), about a dollmaker who moulds a doll of a beautiful lady with sand, clay and water from different lands, and eventually gives life to the doll. It was Nathan's favourite song as he saw it as a metaphor for Singapore's multiracial heritage.

The state funeral was followed by cremation at Mandai Crematorium.

President's ChallengeEdit

After Nathan's appointment as President of Singapore, he took interest in building a caring society for the nation.Template:Citation needed He started the President's Challenge initiatives in 2000. The initiative has been a success so far, raising over $80 million for more than 400 of its beneficiaries.

Personal lifeEdit

Nathan, a Tamil, is married to Urmila (Umi) Nandi, a Bengali of Indian descent. They have a daughter, a son, and two grandchildren.


External linksEdit

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