Is Singapore’s newly elected President, Tharman Shamugaratnam of Indian origin?


One more India-origin elected as a president of a country !! Singapore has elected Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam as the next President of the Republic of Singapore with 70.4% of the vote.

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Former Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam is selected as the next president of Singapore with 70.4% of votes creating a record. He is the first non-Chinese President voted in by the public.

Soon after this news, most of the mainstream media including Hindu Tamil, Times Now, CNBC TV, The Times of India, NDTV, and The Indian Express reported the news mentioning that Tharman Shanmugaratnam is an Indian origin. Some of the posts with such a claim can be seen here and here.

What is the truth?

When searching with relevant keywords we found a BBC article mentioning that Tharman Shanmugaratnam belongs to a family of Tamil origin, native to Sri Lanka. His father Kanakaratnam Shanmugaratnam was a famous pathologist in Singapore. He is also known as the “Father of Pathology” in Singapore.

We also found an article dated February 2016 by Sri Lankan media, Daily News quoting Tharman Shanmugaratnam while mentioning about his father Shanmugaratnam. This article has a list of Tamils in Federated Malaya and Singapore who in the last century traced some of their roots to then Ceylon.

Tharman was born on February 25, 1957, in Singapore, into a culturally diverse family. Another article on the Asian Scientist website mentions that Tharman’s father, Kanagaratnam Shanmugaratnam was born in April 1921 at the Lanka Dispensary, Singapore. There is very little information in the public domain about his mother. Tharman’s wife Jane Yumiko Ittogi, was born to a Japanese merchant father and a Singaporean Chinese mother.

Another article dated July 2015 by Singapore media, Straits Times mentions about a new cookbook on Ceylonese Tamil cuisine. This cookbook was launched in 2015 and proceeds from sales of the cookbook were to go towards funding community initiatives in the Ceylon Tamil community, reported the article. It further stated that the cookbook was launched by the then Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who has Ceylonese roots.

A Sri Lankan media, Colombo Gazette mentioned that new Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam is of Sri Lankan ancestry.

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The article further quoted an X post by Ali Sabry, Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Minister congratulating Tharman Shanmugaratnam. He said “His achievements and his Sri Lankan ancestry are indeed an inspiration” in the post.

The Quint published the same information earlier and updated it by mentioning that the earlier version of the story incorrectly identified Tharman Shanmugaratnam as an Indian origin politician.


It is clear from all the above-stated available information that Tharman Shanmugaratnam is not an Indian origin but of Sri Lankan Tamil ancestry.

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