Mr C V Devan Nair was elected to be the third President of the Republic of Singapore by the Parliament
on October 23, 1981. Before this, he led the trade union and is able to form them into a well-knitted and
forward looking force with dedication towards welfare of labour under the principle of joint labour.
He also initiated the establishment of the NTUC
insurance co-operative INCOME, the taxi co-operative COMFORT and the WELCOME
chain of co-operative supermarkets.
He is born in Malacca on August 5, 1923 and came over to Singapore when he was 10 years old.
He received his primary school education at Rangoon Road Primary School and after that at Victoria
School where he passed his Senior Cambridge examination in 1940.
When World War 2 had ended, he started off as a normal teacher at St Joseph's Institution and after some time
at St Andrew School. His teaching career led him to become a part of the trade union, taking the post of
General Secretary of the Singapore Teacher's Union in 1949.
In 1951 he was detained by the British
authorities as part of a general drive against anti-colonial activities and
remained under detention until April 1953. But once he was released, he became active in the movements of the
trade union again.
In 1954 he was one of the convenors of the
People's Action Party and became a member of the Central Executive Committee.
In 1956 he was again detained by the British and
remained in custody until 1959 when the PAP came to power and appointed him Political
Secretary to the Minister for Education. But he resigned from his appointment a year later for his
passion for teachings brought him back to being a teacher. In the same year, he was appointed the
Chairman of Prisons Inquiry Commission and he launched the Adult Education Board, becoming its first Chairman.
In 1961, he helped to find the Singapore National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) and was elected as the
first Secretary-General. He also stood for election to the Malaysian Parliament in 1964 and won the seat at
Bungsar constituency. He served for five years, establishing the Democratic Action Party of Malaysia
in the process. He became its first Secretary-General.
When his service term in the Malaysian Parliament is over in 1969, he returned back to Singapore and resumed his
post as the Secretary-General of NTUC with the mission to modernise and expand the labour movement.
He became its first president in 1979. He was also president of the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Asian Regional Organisation,
from 1976 to October 1981.
In 1979 Mr Nair stood for election in a
by-election for the Anson constituency and won. He stood for election again in
the 1980 General Election, and retained his seat as MP for Anson. He resigned in
October 1981 when he became President of the Republic of Singapore.
In recognition of Mr Nair's achievements and his
leadership of the labour movement, he was awarded the Public Service Star in
the 1963 National Day Honours. In 1976, the University of Singapore (now the
National University of Singapore) conferred on him an Honorary Doctor of
Letters (Honoris Causa).