SINGAPORE: A top Indian-origin engineer who played an important role in developing the Port of Singapore Authority and the Changi airport has died at the age of 94.
A Vjiaratnam died yesterday without seeing the book about his life, Engineered For Success, get launched next month.
Mr Vjiaratnam was born in 1921 in the northern Ipoh city of Peninsular Malaysia. He later moved to Singapore, and went on to study civil engineering at Brighton College of Technology in Britain on government scholarship in 1950.
On return from Britain, he joined the then Public Works Department and played a key role in the formation of the Port of Singapore Authority in 1964. He also played an important role in developing Changi Airport.
Mr Vijiaratnam also played an important role in the port’s containerisation programme, among other things, and rose to become its chief engineer.
He was also the first pro-chancellor of Nanyang Technological University, serving from 1992 to 2005.
Mr Vijiaratnam was the only Singaporean to represent the country in hockey, rugby, soccer and cricket. He played for about a decade from 1946.
He was part of the national hockey team that went to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He was also chairman of a local newspaper, Tamil Murasu for 10 years from 1995.
A chartered engineer, he became the first Asian to serve as vice-president of the Britain-based Institution of Structural Engineers.
Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president Tan Eng Liang, a water polo player who also went to the 1956 Olympics – said: “Vijiaratnam was exceptional in being able to play four sports at a high level, and that athletes today could learn from him. He was a role model in the way he was able to juggle both sports and a successful career.”