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Singapore’s government celebrates 2,000 year old Tamil community in new book

Singapore’s Minister for communications and information launched a new book describing how there has been a thriving Tamil community within Singapore dating back more than 2000 years, at an event celebrating Tamil history on Saturday.

The book entitled ‘From Sojourners to Settlers – Tamils in Southeast Asia and Singapore', explains the significance of the Tamil population in shaping Singapore's identity and many of its successes.

"Today, Tamil is one of our four official languages, and community and state-supported efforts to promote the Tamil language and culture continue with vigour,” minister S Iswaran said.

The book explains how the famous Singaporean banking system saw its origins from the South Indian Chettiars and moneylenders, who provided the sources of credit for banking to thrive. The Singaporean bank, DBS bank now stands as the largest financier in South East Asia with $402 billion in assets today.

Iswaran adds that the journalistic sector also should pay homage to the influence of Tamil Muslims, who helped established Singapore's first non-English presses.

In 2015, Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong presented India’s prime minister Narendra Modi a copy of the Tamil Murasu, which first reported on India’s recognition of Singapore as an independent country in 1965.

Singapore also holds significant ties with Eelam Tamils, with former Deputy Prime Minister and senior statesman, Sinnathamby Rajaratnam having been born in Jaffna. In 2017, Singapore’s Foreign Minister said Jaffna “holds special significance” for his country, during a visit to the region.