The life of S R Nathan
We flip through the photo archives for a look back at former president S R Nathan's life.
1942: It was the middle of World War II and the beginning of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. Mr Nathan met Lieutenant Tsutomu Kokubu, whose fatherly interest in the then 18-year-old boy resulted in a lifelong friendship. Lt Kokubu, so different from the stereotypical image of the occupying Japanese force, taught Mr Nathan to stand up for himself. He once told him: "Be careful with power. It can sway one's head." Mr Nathan studied hard and became a valued interpreter.
1958: "It's difficult to describe love," said the man who courted Madam Urmila Nandey for more than a decade before marrying her in 1958. Mr Nathan first saw her when he cycled past her house in Muar. He was then 18 and she, 13. Sixteen years on, they wed in a simple Hindu ceremony at Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road.
1974: Mr Nathan became director of the Security and Intelligence Division at the Ministry of Defence in 1971. Three years later, two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two members of the Japanese Red Army hijacked the ferryboat Laju in Singapore waters. Mr Nathan volunteered and led 12 government officials who went to Kuwait on a special Japan Airlines flight as guarantors of safe passage for the hijackers. Upon his return to Singapore, he was greeted by his wife and children.
1982: After Mr Nathan retired from the civil service, he became executive chairman of The Straits Times Press, the predecessor of Singapore Press Holdings.
1999: On the morning of his nomination as president, Mr Nathan made time for reporters waiting outside his home in Ceylon Road clad in a shirt and sarong and barefoot. He was elected unopposed as President of Singapore.
2000: He initiated the President's Challenge, a movement to help the less fortunate. In 2001, The President's Star Charity show raised over $1.5 million.
2005: He was sworn in for a second term at the Istana State Room. That night, he pledged to reach out to all Singaporeans and foster a more cohesive and inclusive community.
2011: Mr Nathan stepped down from his post as president, declining to run for a third term despite there being no term limit. He and his wife were at Haig Girls' School to cast their votes for the presidential election on Aug 27 that year.
2016: Mr Nathan dies peacefully on Aug 22 at 9.48pm at the Singapore General Hospital, surrounded by loved ones.
His experiences in words
"I went on to take up calligraphy during my presidency. I presented several examples of my calligraphy to people, including the Shaolin temple in China. I found calligraphy very therapeutic. When you are practising it, you are alone, in silence, and you concentrate purely on the structure of the character and its formation. I really enjoyed it."
- On learning Mandarin and calligraphy after becoming president
"My wife played a vital role - although she herself was working as a teacher, she was able to manage the home and our two children. She must have missed me sometimes at home... My lifestyle was demanding. But she managed, even if sometimes she moaned about it!"
- On making time for family and private pursuits at the height of his career
"I was against alcohol after seeing what happened to my father, so I never drank... In 1964, when I was with NTUC, I had to go to Algeria to represent Singapore at the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organisation meeting. This involved networking, mobilising support. My friends told me, 'You have to invite these fellows, the Africans, for a drink.' So they would drink alcohol and I would drink orange crush."
MR S. RAJARATNAM
"He could be very forgetful. After I'd left the ministry to go to The Straits Times, I was summoned to go and see him. He started to give me a number of things to do. I told him. 'Sir, I don't work here any more.' 'Where are you?' 'The Straits Times.' 'Ah yes, The Straits Times.'."
- On former foreign minister S. Rajaratnam
MR GOH CHOK TONG
"My wife was part of the entourage and she was limping badly. Chok Tong noticed. Later he said to me, 'Look, this situation is not fair on her. How do you feel about coming back to Singapore?' He was not imposing any decision on me - I was touched by his concern... When he got back to Singapore after the trip, he made the necessary arrangements. My wife still remembers his considerateness."
- On then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, who visited Mr Nathan when he was Singapore's Ambassador to the United States
"On one occasion, I had to perform on the President's Star Charity show, a television programme organised every year by Mediacorp to raise funds for the President's Challenge. I am not much of a singer - reciting a poem seemed a safer choice! ...I practised the passage over and over again. It felt like being back at school! But the end result was worth the effort, and I was touched by the generosity of those who called in during the show to pledge donations."
- On the President's Challenge, which he started in 2000