S. Jayakumar



Shunmugam Jayakumar (b. 12 August 1939, Singapore–), better known as S. Jayakumar, is a former Singapore politician and diplomat.1 Trained as a lawyer, Jayakumar entered politics in 1980 as a People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate and held several key ministerial positions before his retirement from politics in 2011. He is considered part of the second-generation political leadership and served under three different prime ministers: Lee Kuan YewGoh Chok Tong and Lee Hsien Loong.2

Early life and education
Jayakumar received his secondary education at Raffles Institution. He then went on to read law at the University of Singapore (now the National University of Singapore).3 As an undergraduate, Jayakumar was active in student affairs, serving as vice president of the university’s student union and president of the university’s law society.4 He graduated in 1963 as the top student of the law faculty and was called to the bar in 1964.5


Early career
After graduation, Jayakumar stayed on at the university as a law lecturer from 1964 to 1971.6 He obtained his master of laws degree from Yale Law School in 19667 and was later appointed a sub-dean of the law faculty.8 During his time as a university lecturer, Jayakumar also served a brief stint as an assistant human rights officer in the United Nations Secretariat’s Human Rights Division in New York between July and December 1967.9


In 1971, Jayakumar was seconded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as Singapore’s permanent representative to the United Nations, succeeding Tommy Koh.10 He was also appointed as Singapore’s high commissioner to Canada that same year.11

After three years as a diplomat, Jayakumar returned to teaching at the University of Singapore. He served as dean of the law faculty from 1974 to 1980.12 During this period, Jayakumar was also a member of Singapore’s delegation to the 1976 United Nations Law of the Sea Conference.13

Political career
Jayakumar entered politics in 1980 when he resigned from the university to stand in that year’s general election as a PAP candidate.14 He was successful elected as the member of parliament (MP) for the Bedok constituency, which later became part of the East Coast group representation constituency (GRC).15


Jayakumar initially saw politics as a brief interlude to his career in academia.16 However, he eventually stayed on in politics and rose through the ranks. In 1981, Jayakumar was appointed minister of state for law and home affairs.17 He was also made chairman of a seven-member committee to review the censorship rules in Singapore.18 In 1983, Jayakumar took on the portfolio of acting minister for labour before being promoted to minister for labour the following year. He also held the concurrent appointment of second minister for law and home affairs.19

One of the major issues that emerged during Jayakumar’s term as labour minister was the Central Provident Fund (CPF) withdrawal age. Following the 1984 report of the Committee on the Problems of the Aged, which proposed that the retirement age should be raised from 55 to 65 years old in stages, Jayakumar suggested a corresponding raise in the CPF withdrawal age.20 His proposal, dubbed the “Jaya formula” by The Straits Times, would allow workers to withdraw their CPF savings at age 55, but they had to leave a minimum sum in their CPF accounts to cover their basic expenses for the next 10 years until they were 65 years old.21 No decision was made on changing the CPF rules until 1986 when a minimum-sum scheme was introduced for CPF members who reach 55 years old without properties worth at least S$30,000.22

In 1984, Jayakumar was among the select group of six younger PAP ministers (including Goh Chok Tong, Lee Hsien Loong, Ong Teng CheongTony TanS. Dhanabalan and Yeo Ning Hong) tasked with producing the 1999 blueprint for Singapore. This was part of the plan to develop Singapore into a “city of excellence”.23 That same year, Jayakumar was appointed as chairman of the Publicity and Information Committee and a member of the General Election Committee of the PAP.24

After the 1984 general election, Jayakumar was appointed as the minister for home affairs starting in 1985, a post he would continue to hold until January 1994. He remained second minister for law during this time. During his term in office, Jayakumar strengthened policies and legislation related to drug and inhalant abuse. He played a key role in the security operations surrounding the “Marxist conspiracy” of 1987, as well as the rescue operations following the Hotel New World collapse in 1986 and the hijacking of Singapore Airlines flight SQ117 in 1991.25

In 1988, Jayakumar took on the law portfolio, succeeding E. W. Barker following the latter’s retirement from politics. He continued in this appointment until 2008.26 As law minister, Jayakumar was involved in several key constitutional and legislative changes. These included the implementation of the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme, the GRC scheme, the Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) scheme, the elected presidency, and the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act.27

Between 1994 and 2004, Jayakumar served as the minster for foreign affairs in addition to continuing as law minister. As foreign minister, Jayakumar handled several high-profile issues involving various countries. These included the points of agreement on Malayan Railways land, water, customs, immigration and quarantine, airspace and the Pedra Branca disputes with Malaysia; haze and extradition issues with Indonesia; and the Flor Contemplacion case with the Philippines. He was also credited for his role in getting Singapore elected to a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) from 2001 to 2002.28

In August 2004, Jayakumar was appointed deputy prime minister.29 In 2007, Jayakumar was part of the Singapore legal team (which also included Tommy Koh and Chan Sek Keong) involved in the Pedra Branca case that was brought before the International Court of Justice.30

In 2008, Jayakumar stepped down as chairman of the Singapore Indian Development Association’s (SINDA) board of trustees. He had been in the position since 1991 when the self-help group for the Indian community was formed.31 That same year, Jayakumar relinquished the law minister’s portfolio and was succeeded by his former university student, K. Shanmugam.32 Between 2005 and 2010, Jayakumar served as the coordinating minister for national security.33 He was appointed senior minister in 2009 and served in that position until his retirement from politics in 2011.34

Retirement from politics
Jayakumar retired from politics in 2011. He also resigned as a permanent member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, a post that he had been appointed to on 1 July 1998.35 Jayakumar quashed rumours that he was a candidate in the 2011 presidential elections by saying that he had no intention to run for the office.36 Following his retirement, Jayakumar returned to the National University of Singapore’s law faculty as a professor of law on a pro bono basis. His new role involved providing guidance and advice to the faculty's Centre for International Law, which was launched in 2009.37


In 2012, Jayakumar was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan for his role in enhancing relations between Singapore and Japan.38

In May 2013, Jayakumar joined law firm Drew & Napier as a consultant for its international law, international trade and constitutional law practices. This role also involved mentoring the younger lawyers in the firm.39

Career timeline40
1964–1971: 
Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Singapore.
1971–1974: 
Singapore’s permanent representative to United Nations; Singapore’s high commissioner to Canada.
1974–1979: 
Dean of Law Faculty, University of Singapore; member of the Singapore delegation to the United Nations Law of the Seas Conference.
1980, 1984: 
Elected Member of Parliament for Bedok.
19811984: Minister of state for law and home affairs.
19841985: Minister for labour.
1985–1994: 
Minister for home affairs.
1988–2008: 
Minister for law.

1988, 1991: Elected member of parliament for Bedok GRC.
1991–2008: 
Board chairman of SINDA.
1994–2004: Minister for foreign affairs.
1997–2011: Elected member of parliament for East Coast GRC.
2004–2009: 
Deputy prime minister.
2005–2010:
 Coordinating minister for national security.
2009–2011: Senior minister.
2011–: Professor of law, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.
2013–: 
Joined Drew & Napier as consultant.

Awards

1980: 
Public Service Star (Bintang Bakti Masyarakat).41

2008: Became the fifth person to receive the title of Honorary Member for Life and Fellow for Life from the Singapore Academy of Law.42
2009: Eminent Alumni Award (National University of Singapore).43

2012: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan).44

Family45
Wife: Dr Lalitha Rajahram.
Children: 2 sons, 1 daughter.



Author

Jaime Koh



References

1. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 264. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
2. Vasil, R. (2000). Governing Singapore: A history of national development and democracy. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, p. 143. (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 VAS)
3. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 264. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
4. Jayakumar is top law student. (1963, February 16). The Straits Times, p. 6; The Law Society. (1962, June 24). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 264. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]);
Jayakumar is top law student. (1963, February 16). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 264. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
7. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, p. 205. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
8. Jayakumar back after stint at the UN. (1974, June 29). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Our new man in the United Nations. (1971, June 10). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Jayakumar back after stint at the UN. (1974, June 29). The Straits Times, p. 15; Our new man in the United Nations. (1971, June 10). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. S’pore’s envoy to Canada. (1971, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Jayakumar back after stint at the UN. (1974, June 29). The Straits Times, p. 15; Jaya quits law dean post in NUS. (1980, June 25). New Nation, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2006).  Who’s who in Singapore 2006. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, p. 205. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
14. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 264. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Prof J third new face in PAP line-up. (1980, September 24). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Three Acting Ministers promoted. (1984, May 31). Singapore Monitor, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Jayakumar, S. (2011). Diplomacy: A Singapore experience. Singapore: Straits Times Press, pp. 9–10. (Call no.: RSING 327.5957 JAY)
17. Two new MPs made junior ministers. (1981, September 19). The Straits Times, p. 1; Three Acting Ministers promoted. (1984, May 31). Singapore Monitor, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Seven-man panel to review censorship. (1981, May 21). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Three Acting Ministers promoted. (1984, May 31). Singapore Monitor, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Jaya reveals his thinking on CPF. (1984, July 4). The Straits Times, p. 1; Pow Chong, G. (1984, September 23). CPF ruling put off for two years. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Jaya reveals his thinking on CPF. (1984, July 4). The Straits Times, p. 1; The Jaya formula. (1984, July 5). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Pow Chong, G. (1984, September 23). CPF ruling put off for two years. The Straits Times, p. 1; Thomas, M. (1986, August 26). CPF minimum-sum scheme to begin in January next yearThe Business Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Younger PAP leaders to produce 1999 blueprint. (1984, December 12). Singapore Monitor, p. 2; The men who came up with the concept. (1984, December 12). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Who’s who in the PAP’s election machinery. (1984, November 7). Singapore Monitor, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. The new cabinet. (1985, January 1). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Not just a colleague, but also a mentor and friend. (2011, April 21). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Jaya in full charge of Law portfolio. (1988, September 11). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Not just a colleague, but also a mentor and friend. (2011, April 21). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Not just a colleague, but also a mentor and friend. (2011, April 21). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 264. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
30. Gunasingham, A. (2011, June 10). Pedra Branca case is special to him. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Almenoar, M. (2008, July 15). Jaya steps down as Sinda board's headThe Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Zakir Hussain. (2010, October 30).  'Will I step down? Let PM decide'The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Jaya takes on security. (2005, August 29). Today, p. 11; Lin, R. (2010, October 28). Cabinet changes from Nov 1The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Leong, G. (2013, April 12). Jayakumar joins Drew & Napier as consultant. The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
35. Jayakumar resigns from Presidential Council for Minority Rights. (2011, September 10). Today, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Toh, E., & Ong, A. (2011, June 10). 'President is not a separate political centre'The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. Jayakumar returns to NUS law faculty. (2011, September 14). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Former senior minister Jayakumar receives award from Emperor of Japan. (2012, May 8). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/ 
39. Leong, G. (2013, April 12). Jayakumar joins Drew & Napier as consultant. The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/ 
40. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 264. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, p. 205. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
41. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, p. 205. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
42. Thomas, S. (2008, August 21). Jaya receives law academy top honourThe Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
43. NUS recognises 20 outstanding alumni for their contributions. (2009, November 10). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/ 
44. Former senior minister Jayakumar receives award from Emperor of Japan. (2012, May 8). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/ 
45. Low, K. T. (Ed.).(2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, p. 205. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)



The information in this article is valid as at 22 November 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Diplomats
Personalities
Biographies
Politics and Government
Politicians