Mr. Nathan has passed away at the Singapore General Hospital on 22 Aug after complications from a stroke he suffered 3 weeks ago. He is survived by his wife, a son, a daughter and three grandchildren.
His body will lie in state at the Parliament House from 10am on 26 Aug to 12pm on 27 Aug. Members of the public who wish to pay their last respects may do so at Parliament House from 10am to 8pm on Thursday.
Before being elected as the 6th President of Singapore, Mr. Nathan had led a distinguished career in public service over 40 years. Below are some of his notable contributions during his time.
1974 Laju Hijacking
In 1974, the Shell oil refinery complex at Palau Bukom was attacked by 4 terrorists and when they failed to blow up the oil tanks, they hijacked the Laju ferry at the Bukom jetty and took its 5 crew members, hostage. The terrorists then demanded a safe passage out of the country with a party of guarantors in exchange to release the hostages. Mr. Nathan who was then the Director of the Security and Intelligence Division had led the party of 12 other guarantors to accompany the terrorist on their flight to Kuwait.
In an interview with The New Paper in 2011, he recounted the incident for the first time to the media, “Whether we’d be allowed to land, whether we’d be refuelled and sent off somewhere, whether we’d be roaming around the world looking for a haven to land, there was uncertainty.” Mr. Nathan, together with 12 other civil servants and SAF commandos earned themselves a Meritorious Service medal for their act of bravery.
2000 President’s Challenge Charity Drive
Mr. Nathan started the President’s Challenge in the year 2000 as a fundraising campaign to raise funds for the less fortunate people in Singapore and has since raised about S$160 million for more than 800 charities.
In a speech he gave at the launch of the President’s challenge in 2007, he said “It goes beyond donating and receiving money. It can involve volunteering to help organize fundraising events for President’s Challenge, helping the President’s Challenge beneficiaries, or even just by taking part in the events. I urge Singaporeans to show that we care in many different ways and that we are willing to give more than just our money.”
2008 Global Economic Crisis
It was the first time the nation ever dipped its reserves to help fund a $20 billion Resilience package that kept many jobs running and ease the cash flow for many firms. It was a tough decision for him to make at that point and after 11 days of deliberation where he consulted with Council of Presidential Advisors and quizzed the ministers extensively before approving the Government’s request decisively. Singapore eventually averted what would have been one of the country’s biggest financial crisis.
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