Othman Wok: 1924-2017

Excerpt from PM Lee Hsien Loong's letter to Mr Othman's widow, Lina Abdullah

Former cabinet minister Othman Wok and his wife Lina Abdullah.
Former cabinet minister Othman Wok and his wife Lina Abdullah. PHOTO: ST FILE

"Encik Othman was steadfast and unwavering in believing in a multiracial, multi-religious, meritocratic Singapore.

His dedication and courage was most clearly shown during Singapore's turbulent years in the 1960s, when Singapore was part of Malaysia, and then separated from Malaysia to become an independent republic. In a vicious fight against the communalists, Encik Othman faced great pressure and threats on his life for joining the PAP.

If he had faltered, history might have taken a different course. But he stood resolutely by his convictions, and that made all the difference for Singapore.

His firm belief that one could build a multiracial, multireligious society, based on justice and equality, helped keep the dream alive through those dark days when Singapore was not the master of our destiny.

After Separation, Encik Othman's conviction gave heart to Malay Singaporeans, and made it possible for us to remain a multiracial society.

The Singapore we know today could not have existed without Encik Othman and others of our founding generation.

Mr Lee (Kuan Yew) remembered the staunch support that Encik Othman had shown, and the great debt that he owed Encik Othman for his loyalty and service to Singapore, when he (Mr Lee) spoke on the occasion of his 75th birthday...

Singaporeans will always remember Encik Othman as one of our founding fathers, whose courage and passion helped set Singapore on a path of peace and progress.

His passing is a deep loss to the nation."

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2017, with the headline 'Excerpt from PM Lee Hsien Loong's letter to Mr Othman's widow, Lina Abdullah'. Print Edition | Subscribe