Just a day after Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong suffered a fainting spell on the podium during his National Day Rally speech Sunday August 21, Sellapan Ramanathan or SR Nathan, sixth President of Singapore, died Monday evening August 22 at the Singapore General Hospital, aged 92 years old. He has been confined there for about three weeks, after suffering a stroke in July 31 that placed him in a critical condition.
Channel new Asia reports that news of the death was first released in a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office. In it, the PMO said that Prime Minister Lee and the Singapore cabinet were deeply saddened to hear of Nathan’s passing, and gave condolences to his family. They gave the former president’s time of passing at 9:48PM at the SGH Intensive Care Unit.
It also added that Nathan’s remains will lie in state at Parliament House on Thursday August 24 starting 10 in the morning; mourners can attend the public viewing until 8 in the evening. A state funeral service will be held Friday August 24in the National University of Singapore’s Cultural Centre, where his remains will be moved from parliament House after 12 noon. Those who cannot make it can instead write down their condolences and tributes at special writing boards to be installed at the Istana starting Tuesday August 23 at 6 in the morning.
SR Nathan served as President from 1999 to 2011, the longest serving head of state for Singapore. Born there in 1924 but spending his boyhood in Malaysia, Nathan worked as a translator for the Japanese Civilian Police during the World War II occupation of Singapore and completed his education while working. He entered the civil service and was assigned posts in national security and foreign affairs, including Ambassador to the US. Nathan also established the Southeast Asian political think tank, the Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies. He was elected unopposed by other candidates on 1999, and again on 2005. In 2009 during the global recession he authorized the use of national reserves amounting to $4.9 billion in order to stabilize Singapore’s economy. While successful, Nathan declined to run for a third term citing reasons of age.
After his political career Nathan became an author, publishing two autobiographies and a children’s book while serving in several academic positions.
The current President of Singapore, Tam Keng Yam, wrote on Facebook his admiration for Nathan’s policies and the establishment of the IDSS and the President’s Challenge fundraising initiative, which Tam has continued. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed his condolences on Twitter, while US State Department spokesman Mark Toner issued a statement paying tribute to Nathan’s tenure as Ambassador to the country from 1990 to 1996.
He is survived by his wife, son, daughter, and three grandchildren.
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