Singapore bids farewell to ex-prez Nathan
Indian-origin former Singaporean president SR Nathan, who passed away earlier this week, was laid to rest after a state funeral on Friday. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described Nathan as one of Singapore's greatest sons.
Nathan, 92, had spent 40 years in Singapore civil service and two-terms as President from 1999 to 2011. He suffered a stroke on July 31 and was in intensive care of a hospital till he passed away on August 22.
The family held a private cremation after the state funeral service. Seven eulogies were delivered at the state funeral service, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre in the afternoon. "He played a leadership role in the Indian community. But he was also a President for all Singaporeans, and cared deeply about racial and religious harmony," said Lee.
A lone bugler from the military band sounded the 'Last Post' after the state funeral for the Singapore-born Nathan.
A minute of silence was also observed, after which the Rouse was sounded – a symbolic call back to duty after respect has been paid to the memory of the deceased.
Singaporeans, led by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, and diplomats paid their last respects to the late president at Parliament, where he was laid to rest with full honours.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife also paid respects to Nathan, making a brief stop-over in Singapore en-route to Kenya.
Abe told Nathan's wife that Japan will never forget Nathan as he was the first head of the state to visit Hiroshima and meet the atomic bomb victims during a state visit to Japan in 2009. "For me, President Nathan was a great son of Singapore, a great educator, leader and statesman. He was also a great friend of Indonesia," wrote former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the condolence book he signed at Singapore Embassy in Jakarta.
Ambassador-at-large Gopinath Pillai, in his tribute at the state funeral service, said giving back to the Hindu and Indian communities was of great importance to Singapore's late President. Nathan was one of the founders of self-help group Singapore Indian Development Association. As the chairman of the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) he ensured better accounting procedures were put in place.
Pillai said Nathan had told him that he took on the role of chairman of HEB because he felt that just as there were credible Indian ministers who had won the respect of all races in Singapore's political arena, the various Indian institutions here should also be credible.