Singapore's first Asian postmaster-general Indian-origin M Bala Subramanion passes away

Gurdip Singh
·2-min read

Singapore, Feb 5 (PTI) Singapore's first Asian postmaster-general and a veteran community leader, Indian-origin M Bala Subramanion, passed away due to old age ailments at his residence here, according to a media report on Friday.

He was aged 103 and would have turned 104 on March 5, The Straits Times reported.

Subramanion died peacefully at his residence on Wednesday evening. He is survived by his 87-year-old wife Sumitra Bala Subramanion, a daughter and two granddaughters, it said.

Subramanion and his wife celebrated 55 years of their marriage the day before his death.

He was learning Japanese up to his final days, mastering his pronunciation of the language.

'He was a voracious reader and loved poetry very much. He was an ardent fan of Omar Khayyam's poems,' the report quoted his wife as saying.

According to Arun Mahizhnan, 75, Special Research Adviser at the Institute of Policy Studies, Subramanion was an exemplary lifelong learner and an ardent reader.

'More than his age, his wisdom and commitment to the community are extraordinary. Till his last day, he was very much interested in what the Indian community can do better. He never lost his enthusiasm for new ideas,' Mahizhnan said.

Subramanion joined the public service in 1936 as a probationary clerk in the colonial Postal Services Department. After World War II, he studied the postal system in Britain on a two-year scholarship. After working there for a few years, he returned in 1955 to be assistant comptroller in the Postal Services Department.

Subramanion's biography 'Singapore, My Country' by Nilanjana Sengupta was launched in July 2016 by then Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the Fullerton Hotel -- the former General Post Office where he had an illustrious 35-year career.

He became Singapore's first local comptroller of post in 1957, exactly 100 years since the British set up the postal service in Singapore.

He became the first Asian postmaster-general -- the equivalent of chief executive -- in 1967, a post he held till he retired in 1971. He received the Public Service Gold Medal from Singapore's first President, late Yusof Ishak, in 1965.

Active in the Indian community, Subramanion served as president and trustee of the Singapore Indian Association. He also contributed actively to the Hindu community in Singapore, going door-to-door to raise funds for the refurbishment of the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road and the Sri Sivan Temple.

He was among those honoured for their contributions to the community at the Hindu Endowments Board's 50th anniversary dinner in 2019. PTI GS SCY