Former SM Tharman Met Wife In University, She Left Legal Practice To Serve Community
As Singapore’s presidential hopefuls step into the limelight, their partners are also drawing much attention, as citizens begin to wonder who their future First Lady might be.
All eyes were recently on Sybil Lau, Mr Ng Kok Song’s wife. Now, the buzz is around Ms Jane Yumiko Ittogi, wife to former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
This was especially after the latter opened up about his spouse in a rare Facebook post.
Tharman shares about wife Jane in Facebook post
Updating his profile photo on Tuesday (25 July), Mr Tharman took the chance to share a glimpse of his love story with his wife and more about her as a person.
He began the post by sharing about her interactions with residents, who would often converse in English, Mandarin, Teochew or Malay with her.
What never fails to amuse the couple is when someone attempts to speak in Japanese, which leaves Ms Jane stumped.
Mr Tharman clarified that his wife doesn’t understand Japanese despite her name.
Grew up in a Teochew-speaking kampong
Yes, Ms Jane was born to a Japanese merchant father and a Singaporean Chinese mother. However, she apparently grew up in a kampong or village where most people spoke Teochew, a Chinese dialect.
Like many locals at the time, Ms Jane began primary school without knowing any English. Comparing her to him who was engrossed in sports as a child, Mr Tharman said that his wife “enjoyed learning from teachers and books”.
Her determination brought her all the way to the London School of Economics (LSE), where she completed her Master’s degree in Law.
Mr Tharman made it to the same university after his National Service (NS) but was a few years her junior.
However, since they shared the same circles of friends “who were deeply interested in social issues”, romance eventually blossomed between the two.
Left legal practice to serve the community
Naturally, after completing her studies, Ms Jane worked in law for a while but left the legal practice over 20 years ago to do community work.
She first began by reaching out to disadvantaged children and young teens in Jurong. She also helped to uplift former inmates, some of whom went on to become community leaders and volunteers, and even the couple’s friends.
To reach even more people, Ms Jane set up the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Tasek Jurong Limited 10 years ago.
She currently chairs the NGO, which helps families beyond her husband’s constituency.
Besides engaging with the community through her organisation, Ms Jane is also apparently working on her Japanese so she can converse with folks who’d like to practise the language with her.
A beloved couple in the Singapore community
Mr Tharman additionally shared in his post that he and his wife have been married for 33 years now.
They have four children together, who are all following their own paths.
Looking at the comments on his post, it’s clear that netizens are appreciative of Mr Tharman opening up about his loved ones.
Above all, many expressed their confidence in his wife making for a fine First Lady. Whether that will come true will depend on the outcome of the upcoming election.
But seeing Ms Jane’s dedication to helping others and her constant presence by her husband’s side, we’re sure Mr Tharman has a strong pillar of support no matter what happens.
Here’s wishing him all the best in his presidential bid.
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