10 Best Memorable Quotes of S. R. Nathan That Should Be Kept in Our Hearts


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The late former president of Singapore, Mr S. R. Nathan, was a distinguished man of few words. Despite his passing, he had left Singaporeans some valuable pearls of wisdom:

1. “The question of peace, progress, and prosperity, it’s a motherhood statement, all of us like it. ”

This could probably mean that people feel good discussing about peace, progress, and prosperity, but not many are willing to embark on the tough journey to realize those ideals.

2. “Apprehension is natural, but it must not be concluded that it is a threat. Certainly not. ”

Misgiving and uncertainty are expected but we must never let them destabilize our social fabric.

3. “Whether in the office of the President or in the executive arm of Government, we’ll always need people of strong character and vision who resist populist pressures and the temptation to sacrifice the long-term interest of the nation in response to those who merely snipe without having to take responsibility.”

Here, S R Nathan warned against leadership that is more concerned with gain popularity and distancing themselves from responsibilities for decisions made.

4. “One of the things you must remember is that with all these gripes that you hear, people forget how we have arrived to this stage in our country. Could it have been done without the Government? That’s my question. Much has been achieved. There are probably faults that have to be remedied, but we just can’t distance ourselves from the Government.”

Singaporeans must continue to maintain a close relationship with their government, only then can inadequacies be identified and addressed for the sake of progress and prosperity. Distancing from and blaming the Government will not achieve anything.

5. “I’ve done the best I can. If it’s good enough for some people, fine. If it’s not good enough for some people, and there will always be noise in the environment, you can’t stop it. You don’t do it because you want to leave a legacy. You do the best you can.”

Mr Nathan is telling the Government to not be discouraged as dissidents are expected and continue to serve its people because it can do so.

6. “We can criticise, we can comment, we can abuse, we can say…but ultimately if it fails, we all fail. So that’s the duty we have. To uphold it, to let it grow, to let it stand in the eyes of the world as something important, something worth recognising. So that’s the duty.”

This could probably mean that the Government has the duty of governing and developing the country so that it can withstand criticisms, comments, and be recognized by the international community.

7. “I hear from my grandchildren about Facebook and whatever you have. So after I’ve stepped down, I have time and I will have to learn all that. But anyway, I’m not going into Facebook and tell stories. No point. Not all people on Facebook or whatever you call it, are honest people. Some of them are very critical of things without responsibility.”

Mr Nathan warns against irresponsible and/or dishonest posting on social media. He is indicating that critics must take responsibility for their words.


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8. “We cannot have a Presidency on the streets. The President’s duties are defined by the constitution and the people would not want the office to be so transparent to a point where the value and prestige of the position is lost.”

This means the President’s powers are limited by the country’s constitution and there is no need to demand for complete disclosure of the President’s office as it would weaken the President’s authority.

9. “The way I’ve been accepted by people of all races, of all strata of society, of all persuasions, who have embraced me and accepted me as their President. I’ve tried to behave in a way not to let them down either locally or internationally. I’ve tried to preserve in some ways the aura of the presidency which must be kept because it’s an institution above politics.”

The message is that a President has to maintain the dignity of his office as it concerns the country’s domestic and international reputation and image.

10. “Given my circumstances, given my lack of qualification, the need to succeed, the need to achieve, perhaps made you undertake all the missions and do your best. ”

Situations, inadequacies, motivation, and pure necessity for results are excellent reasons for an individual to face any and all difficulties and excel through effort.

Lastly, the late Mr. Nathan lauded the usefulness and virtue of an advice given by a British soldier in the form of a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “I am here to do the best I can. If what I do turns out to be right, all my critics will come to my point of view. But if what I do turns out to be wrong, 10 angels swearing my good intensions will not remedy the situation”.

The quote by Lincoln tells us all that our actions has to be upright only then can we convince others of our righteousness, while repercussions from wrongdoings cannot be ameliorated by claims of good intentions.

This means we have to be mindful of our conduct and its consequences at all times.

This article was first published on goodyfeed.com

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