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SR Nathan encouraged many to better their lives: eulogy speakers

Friday, August 26, 2016 - 17:16

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SINGAPORE'S former president SR Nathan could relate to the common man and encourage them to make a difference in their lives, said eulogy speakers at the state funeral service of Mr Nathan.

SINGAPORE'S former president SR Nathan could relate to the common man and encourage them to make a difference in their lives, said eulogy speakers at the state funeral service of Mr Nathan.

This approach was borne out of Mr Nathan's sense to give back to society, said Ambassador-at-large Gopinath Pillai, at the service on Friday.

In a quavering voice, Mr Pillai said: "He was one of the founders of Sinda (Singapore Indian Development Association) and believed firmly that every child irrespective of race or religion should have the opportunity to develop to his full potential.

"He spearheaded many initiatives at Sinda which have led to the betterment of many lives."

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Mr Nathan passed away on Monday, aged 92. He was once a school dropout and a runaway, but later rose through the ranks in public service, culminating in taking the highest office of the land. He was Singapore's sixth and longest-serving president.

Mr Nathan also left an impact on the labour movement, spurring it on to fight for workers' rights, said labour chief Chan Chun Sing in a speech delivered in English, Malay and Mandarin.

Recounting how Mr Nathan once said that "the small man is important" and the trade union movement should ensure that workers will have no fear in speaking up, Mr Chan said: "Yes, Mr Nathan, the Labour Movement will remember your words. You showed us the courage to stand up and speak without fear as a people."

Fairfax Asia chairman and chief executive Ramaswamy Athappan, who is a family friend, remembered how the late Mr Nathan, despited being hospitalised, had phoned him at a late hour. Mr Nathan wanted to ask for assistance for volunteers who had trouble entering Singapore to promote their cause.

The volunteers were a group of four women from India who were making a trip on motorcycles around Asia, hoping to raise awareness about female feticide in India. However, they could not enter Singapore because they did not have proper vehicle insurance.

Citing this example, together with other anecdotes, Mr Pillai said: "This reflects the true love he showed those who had the privilege of knowing him. There are many others who have benefited from Mr Nathan's love.

"He has deeply touched the hearts of all those who knew him."

The state funeral service which has ended, will be followed by a private cremation at Mandai Crematorium. A private wake was held for Mr Nathan on Tuesday and Wednesday. His body was then lying in state at Parliament House on Thursday.

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