The magnificent 13 of the Laju hijack
After the passing of former president S R Nathan, there has been much talk about the 1974 Laju hijack and the bravery of the 13 men who traded places with the hostages. Who are these men?
In 2011, before he retired from the highest office, the late president S R Nathan hosted a small tea reception attended by seven of 12 Singaporean men.
It was a private function and some of the men were recognisable faces to Istana staff.
"It was our first and only reunion, and we recounted some of the things that happened in 1974. We were at ease with the results (of the crisis)," says Mr Tee Tua Ba, 74, the former commissioner of police.
Mr S. Rajagopal, 76, a retired counter terrorism officer with the Internal Security Department, was also there, as were several commando officers. He took pictures of the gathering.
He tells The New Paper on Sunday: "I met the President at an earlier event and told him we should have a gathering for the men.
"We had not seen each other as a group since."
That was the day 13 men traded places with hostages of the Laju ferry to guarantee safe passage out of Singapore for four hijackers.
The details were never shared publicly and none of the men believed in self-glorification.
As a result, for more than 30 years, few outside the group knew of the men's readiness to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Then before retiring, Mr Nathan revealed to The New Paper what took place on the Feb 8, 1974, Japan Airlines flight to Kuwait with the four Laju hijackers.
And he gave even more details in his book, An Unexpected Journey: Path To The Presidency.
Among the 13 were commandos, including LTC (Retired) Clarence Tan Kim Peng, Singapore's first US-trained special forces soldier.
And ISD officers including director Yoong Siew Wah who, like the others, was ready to lay down his life.
But there were also two non-security men who had acted as interpreters during the crisis.
One was a former official of the Syariah Court while the other had worked at the then-Singapore Broadcasting Corporation.
Both had died before the Istana reunion.
There has only been one publicly seen picture of the 13 men, taken at a press conference after the men had safely returned to Singapore on Feb 9.
They never again assembled as a group for more than 35 years.
- MELVIN SINGH and HARIZ BAHARUDIN
S R Nathan and the other 12 men
Mr S R Nathan
Director, Security and Intelligence Division, whom Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Defence Minister Goh Keng Swee told to lead the 13-men exchange.
Captain Clarence Tan Kim Peng
Commanding officer of the Singapore Armed Forces Regular Battalion, the precursor of the 1st Commando Battalion. He was one of the first local officers to attend the ranger and airborne courses conducted by the US Army. He was involved with the elite soldiers until 1988, then he became a defence attache in Australia before retiring in 1992.
Captain Gwee Peng Hong
Commando officer who was the commanding officer of the first batch of NS commandos.
Mr Teo Ah Bah
Mr Tan Lye Kwee
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Mr Yoong Siew Wah
Director of Singapore's Internal Security Department (ISD), 1971 to 1974. He was previously the Director Of The Corrupt Practices Investigation bureau and an officer in the Singapore special branch in the 1950s.
Mr Tee Tua Ba
Officer-in-charge of Marine Police, 1974 to 1976. He became Commissioner of Police before retiring in 1997. He is now serving as non-resident ambassador to Switzerland.
Mr Seah Wai Toh
Superintendent of police. He later became deputy director of ISD after 1974 and was involved in negotiating the surrender of four Vietnamese hijackers of an Air Vietnam flight in 1977.
Mr S. Rajagopal
Assistant Superintendent, counter terrorism unit, ISD. His career was packed with dangerous assignments. He was involved in the Air Vietnam operations. Masquerading as a doctor, he boarded and got the injured out of the plane. Now 76, he serves as the honorary treasurer of the Singapore Police Retirees' Association.
Mr Andrew Tan
Assistant Superintendent, counter terrorism unit, ISD.
Mr Saraj Din
Assistant Superintendent, ISD.
Haji Abu Bakar
Religious teacher who was approached by the Ministry of Defence because of his fluency in Arabic. A civilian, he volunteered to join the men on the flight to Kuwait. He went on to become ustaz abu bakar and remained involved in the rehabilitation of terrorists. He died on jan 25, 2005.
Haji Abdul Rahman
Broadcaster with the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation and fluent in Arabic.