Ex-Singapore president Nathan dies
Former Singapore president S. R. Nathan, whose colourful career included stints as a spymaster and diplomat, died in hospital on Monday, the government said in a statement.
The 92-year-old veteran public servant, who was closely associated with Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, was hospitalised on July 31 after suffering a cerebral stroke.
“The Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues are sad to learn of the passing of Mr S. R. Nathan and would like to convey their condolences to his family,” the statement said.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote in tribute of Singapore’s longest-serving president: “I remember him as a man guided by a deep sense of duty to the nation. He stepped up each time duty called.”
Nathan started his career as a social worker and rose up the ranks to become ambassador to Malaysia and the United States, two of the most prestigious jobs in the Singapore government service.
It was during his tenure as ambassador that he had to defend Singapore’s caning of an American teenager, Michael Fay, for vandalism in 1994, which caused a serious diplomatic rift with Washington.
Nathan also served as an intelligence chief in the military and held various positions in the private sector.
He was elected to two six-year presidential terms between 1999 and 2011.
Singapore’s president is the head of state but also has the power to protect the country’s reserves, veto senior government appointments, stop executions and review detention orders in internal-security cases.