SINGAPORE – Dr R. Theyvendran, former secretary-general of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) and a veteran community leader, died on Tuesday (Dec 29) at the age of 79.
His cremation took place on Thursday, and he is survived by his wife and son.
Dr Theyvendran, who was fondly known as Denan, was also active in various community organisations, including as chairman of Tamils Representative Council (TRC), an umbrella body of about 30 Tamil organisations in Singapore, and the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI).
“He took TRC to new heights. Many new initiatives were established during his tenure, most notably bursaries for students,” said TRC chairman V. Pandiyan, 58.
“A man with a good heart, he never said no to anyone who approached him. He always lent a helping hand, whether monetary or otherwise to many organisations and individuals,” he added.
Mr Pandiyan said Dr Theyvendran’s passing is a loss to Tamil organisations and the community.
Dr Theyvendran, who is of Sri Lankan ancestry, also helmed the Ceylon Sports Club and the Singapore Ceylon Tamils’ Association.
Mr M. Lukshumayeh, president of Ceylon Sports Club, said: “He was a giant of a man. His heart and soul was for others and his vision was to see as many people come up in life. I will certainly not see somebody like him in my lifetime.”
Ceylon Sports Club and the Indian Association, which are neighbours in Balestier Road, were scheduled to observe a minute of silence, with their lights off, as a mark of respect on Thursday night.
“It is a moment for us to come together to celebrate the life of this extraordinary man who has positively impacted our lives and whose achievements and legacy will live on,” said Mr Lukshumayeh.
Among Dr Theyvendran’s other notable contributions were as chairman of the Telecoms Credit Co-operative, second deputy chairman of the Singapore National Co-operative Federation, project chairman of the rebuilding of Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple in Ceylon Road, adviser to Sembawang Tamils Association and chairman of the SecureGuard Security Services co-operative.
He was also a trustee of the Print and Media Association, Singapore, the national representative body for the printing industry.
The veteran businessman had a reputation for turning troubled organisations around, and after joining loss-making printing company Stamford Press in 1983, grew it into Stamford Media International in 2001.
The company was named one of the top 50 Enterprise Companies in 1996 and in 2000, and ventured into areas such as e-commerce, software development and technology.
Dr Theyvendran was a member of the MDIS governing council from 1989 to 2020, where he had “contributed immensely to the growth of MDIS”, the not-for-profit private education institution said in an obituary on Wednesday.
When he joined, it had been making losses of about $60,000 a year. Within three years, he turned it around and it ran a surplus of more than $1 million.
“Whichever roles and responsibilities he undertook, he was very focused and did it extraordinarily well,” said Dr T. Chandroo, chairman of SICCI who served as vice- chairman when Dr Theyvendran was chairing the association.
“His energy and enthusiasm would last through the entirety of the task he embarked on and I had never seen lethargy in him. His style of leadership had always mesmerised me,” he said.