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Chengara Veetil Devan Nair or C. V. Devan Nair (b. 5 August 1923, Jasin, near Malacca, Malaysia - d. 7 December 2005, Canada) was Singapore's third President and first Indian President.
The son of a rubber plantation clerk, Nair moved from Malaysia to Singapore with his family when he was ten. He received his early education at Rangoon Road Primary School. He went on to pursue his Senior Cambridge Certificate at Victoria School. Although he lacked formal learning at a higher level, Nair exhibited intellectual finesse and perseverance through independent learning.
After World War II, Nair joined the teaching profession, as there was a dire need for teachers. He first taught in St. Joseph's Institution and then St. Andrew's School. During this time, his interest in the trade union movement was ignited. He assumed the responsibility of General Secretary of the Singapore Teachers' Union in 1949.
The next few years seemed bleak for the idealistic Nair, as he was detained by the British authorities for participating in anti-colonial activities in 1951. Despite these difficulties, his passion for workers' welfare saw him return to trade union activities soon after his release in April 1953. This time, he served as the Secretary of the Singapore Factory and Shopworkers' Union.
In 1954, Nair was called to be one of the convenors of the People's Action Party. He was also a Member of the Central Elective Committee. Again, in 1956, Nair was detained by the British. He was released three years later when the PAP came into leadership. Nair was appointed Political Secretary to the Minister of Education, a position he relinquished after a year. He returned to teaching.
In 1961, Nair played an instrumental role in the establishment of the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC). He was also heavily involved in the parliamentary politics of Malaysia, as he earned himself a seat in the Bungsar constituency. After his term, he returned to assume his duties with NTUC. As the first Secretary-General of NTUC, he went on to become its President in 1979. That same year, Nair stood for elections at the Anson constituency and gained himself a seat. His Member of Parliament status stood for only two years.
On 23 October 1981, Devan Nair became Singapore's third President. He continued to champion worker's rights during his term. In 1985, Nair resigned from his position as head of state due to health reasons.
1963 : Public Service Star for his role and leadership in the labour movement
1976 : the National University of Singapore, then known as the University of Singapore, conferred upon him an Honorary Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa)
Nair married Dhana Lakshimi in 1953. The couple had known each other since childhood as Nair and Dhana's brother were good friends. Throughout Nair's struggle in the trade union, Dhana had been a pillar of support for her husband. The couple has three sons and a daughter.
Who lives if Malaysia dies? A selection from the speeches and writings of DAP leaders. (1969). Petaling Jaya, Selangor: Democratic Action Party
(Call no. : RCLOS 329.9595 DEM).
Tomorrow - the peril and the promise: report by the Secretary General to the 2nd triennial delegates conference. (1976). Singapore: Singapore National Trades Union Congress.
(Call no.: 331.88095957 NAT)
Socialism that works the Singapore way. (1976). Singapore: Federal Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 335.0095957 SOC).
Asian Labour and the dynamics of change. (1977). Singapore: Singapore National Printers.
(Call no.: 331.095 NAI)
Trade Unions in Singapore (not available in NLB's collection).
Nair, C. V. D. (1982). Not by wages alone: Selected speeches and writings of C.V. Devan Nair, 1959-1981. Singapore: Singapore National Trades Union Congress.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 NAI)
Singapore Government. . C.V. Devan Nair: Circumstances relating to resignation as President of the Republic of Singapore. Singapore: Singapore National Printers.
(Call no.: RSING 324.22095957 CVD)
A new consensus, a new goal: Address by C. V. Devan Nair, President of the Republic of Singapore at the opening of the first session of the sixth parliament on 25 February, 1985, and addenda to the President's address. (1985). Singapore: Information Division, Ministry of Communications & Information.
(Call no.: RCLOS 354.5957 NEW)
Comrade president. (October, 1981). [Singapore]: The Monitor.
(Call no.: RSING 324. 22095957 COM)
Devan: nation builder, people's president. (1981). Singapore: Singapore National Trades Union Congress.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5700924 DEV)
MCN International Pte Ltd. (2005). Former Singapore President Devan Nair dies at age 82. Retrieved December 7, 2005 from www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/182396/1/.html
President's Office, Republic of Singapore. (1999). Mr C V Devan Nair - third president of the Republic of Singapore. Retrieved December 23, 2004, from //www.istana.gov.sg/history.html#nair
The information in this article is valid as at 2005 and correct as far as we can 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.
Nair, C. V. Devan, 1923-2005
Labor unions-- Singapore
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