Fitting farewell to a founding father

Pallbearers carrying Mr Othman Wok's coffin outside Sultan Mosque yesterday. A Singapore flag was draped over the coffin, with the crescent and stars lying over the head and close to the heart of one of the nation's founding fathers.
Pallbearers carrying Mr Othman Wok's coffin outside Sultan Mosque yesterday. A Singapore flag was draped over the coffin, with the crescent and stars lying over the head and close to the heart of one of the nation's founding fathers.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The solemn sound of prayer filled the air at Sultan Mosque yesterday afternoon as loud thunder rumbled overhead and heavy rain poured down on Singapore.

Like showers of blessing, the thunderstorm gave a poignant touch to the funeral of pioneer leader Othman Wok. Family, friends and ordinary Singaporeans gathered at the mosque in Kampong Glam to bid a final farewell to one of the nation's founding fathers and a key member of independent Singapore's first Cabinet.

Mr Othman, 92, died on Monday in Singapore General Hospital. He had been hospitalised for a chest infection and stomach complications.

At the mosque, Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram led customary prayers for the dead before Mr Othman's coffin was brought out of the prayer hall. Mourners, including political leaders, watched as a Singapore flag was draped over the coffin. The coffin was then placed on a ceremonial gun carriage for the journey to the Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery for the burial.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a Facebook post yesterday, noted that many braved the rain to pay their respects to Mr Othman, whom he described as "a man who at a pivotal moment, made a critical difference. Encik Othman will always be remembered as a man whose courage and conviction helped Singapore achieve racial and religious harmony".

A memorial service will be held this evening at Victoria Concert Hall for invited guests.

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Fitting farewell to a founding father'. Print Edition | Subscribe