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Biography of Mr Ong Teng Cheong

1936 - Mr Ong Teng Cheong was born in Singapore on 22 January (second eldest of 5 children).

1946 - Enrolled in Zhong Zheng Primary School, completed primary education in 1949.

1950 - Enrolled in Chinese High School, graduated in 1955.

1953 - Met Madam Ling Siew May during a joint activity between Chinese High School and Nanyang Girls' School.

1956 - Went overseas to Australia to pursue a degree in architecture.

1961 - Graduated from University of Adelaide with Bachelor of Architecture degree.

1962 - Started career as an architect (in Australia), and later joined Singapore Civil Service as a town planner.

1963 - Married Madam Ling Siew May.

1965 - Offered a Colombo Scholarship (Master's).

1966 - Birth of Tze Guan, eldest son of Mr and Mrs Ong, in Liverpool.

1967 - Graduated from University of Liverpool with Masters in Civic Design (Town Planning).

1967 - Joined the Ministry of National Development (Planning Department).

1968 - Birth of Tze Boon, second son of Mr and Mrs Ong, in Singapore.

1971 - Left the Civil Service and started his own practice.

1972 - Established Ong & Ong Architects and Town Planner, together with his wife, Mrs Ong Siew May.

1972 - Contested in General Election in Kim Keat and won. Served as Member-of-Parliament (MP) until Aug 1993 (contested in a total of 6 general elections).

1975 - Appointed as Senior Minister of State for Communications. Subsequently also appointed as Acting Minister of Culture (1977), Minister for Communications (1978) and Minister of Labour (1981).

1981 - Appointed as Chairman of People's Action Party (PAP).

1983 - Appointed as NTUC Secretary-General (until 1993) and appointed as Minister without Portfolio.

1985 - Appointed as Second Deputy Prime Minister in January (until Nov 1990).

1990 - Appointed as Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) in November (until Aug 1993).

1993 - Resigned as DPM, MP and PAP Chairman to contest in Presidential Election in August.

1993 - Became Singapore's first Elected President on 1 September (until 31 Aug 1999).

1994 - Conferred the labour movement's highest award: The Distinguished Comrade of Labour on 1 May. His citation read: "In the decade that he was NTUC Secretary-General, Mr Ong Teng Cheong transformed the labour movement's dreams, and his own aspirations for workers, into reality - for the benefit of the working people in Singapore."

1998 - Conferred one of Britain's highest honours: The Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George, by Queen Elizabeth II, in July.

1998 - Received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Liverpool.

1999 - His wife, Mrs Ong Siew May, passes away on 30 July, at the age of 62.

1999 - Completed the 6-year Presidential term on 31 August.

2002 - Mr Ong Teng Cheong passes away on 8 February, at the age of 66.


In honour of the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong's contributions towards the labour movement, the Ong Teng Cheong Institute of Labour Studies was formed with the renaming of the Singapore Institute of Labour Studies (SILS) in March 2002. (The SILS was set up in 1990 by National Trade Union Congress as a non-profit institution with the focus on training, education and research on labour issues).

In honour of the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong and his contributions to the arts and music in Singapore, the Ong Teng Cheong Professorship in Music was launched on 2 October 2002.

The Ong Teng Cheong Education Trust Fund was started in November 2002 by National Trade Union Congress to subsidize course fees for union leaders who wish to pursue their studies either locally or overseas.

In February 2003, the Singapore Institute of Planners conferred an Honorary Fellow on the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong, one of the pioneer planners in Singapore who was part of the local team working alongside with the foreign team in drawing up the Urban Renewal & Development Project, Singapore for the United Nations Development Programme (Special Fund) in 1971.

The Ong Teng Cheong Concert (held at the Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay, on 6 April 2003) was dedicated to the late former President who had supported the development of the Esplanade, from its inception until his passing.



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