Foreign leaders offer condolences

S R Nathan, former president, during an interview following his recently launched book, S R Nathan In Conversation.
S R Nathan, former president, during an interview following his recently launched book, S R Nathan In Conversation.PHOTO: ST FILE

Foreign leaders and diplomats offered their condolences to the family of former president S R Nathan and the Republic yesterday, while Singaporeans turned up at overseas missions to pay their respects.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak posted a message at 7.35am yesterday on Twitter: "My deepest condolences to the family of former Singapore president S R Nathan and the people of Singapore."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did the same, tweeting that he was saddened by Mr Nathan's death. "Singapore has lost a distinguished leader who was widely admired," he said.

Mr Nathan died on Monday evening at the Singapore General Hospital, three weeks after suffering a stroke.

In a letter to President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit expressed their "sincere sympathy and condolences for the loss of such a statesman" to Mr Nathan's family and the people of Singapore.

The Philippine Embassy in Singapore said on its Facebook page that Mr Nathan was a great friend of the Philippines and the Filipino community in Singapore.

A spokesman for the US State Department sent condolences during a daily press briefing.

"President Nathan was a lifelong civil servant whose career spanned all five decades of the US-Singapore relationship, including six years as Singapore's ambassador to the United States and 12 as its President," said spokesman Mark Toner. "We extend our deepest condolences to President Nathan's family and the people of Singapore."

Yesterday, the British High Commission also lowered the Union Jack to half-mast as a sign of respect to Mr Nathan.

British High Commissioner to Singapore Scott Wightman said on Twitter: "Former President S R Nathan served Singapore and its people selflessly. I offer my deepest sympathy to his family and to the country."

New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore Jonathan Austin called Mr Nathan "a true patriot who served Singapore with distinction", and tweeted a photo of him greeting Mr Nathan in the Maori tradition by rubbing their noses.

Overseas Singapore missions arranged for condolence books for overseas Singaporeans and foreign dignitaries to pen their condolence messages.

Singaporean G. Arron, 43, a sub-contractor for a local oil and gas company in Johor Baru, described Mr Nathan as humble.

"I saw him once at a Eurasian restaurant along Ceylon Road... he seemed like a down-to-earth person," he told The Star.

Condolence books have also been opened at the Singapore Embassy in Washington, DC, and the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei. Despite a protest outside the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta yesterday over the alleged mistreatment of a retired Indonesian general at Changi Airport, signing of the book was not disrupted.

The Singapore Embassy in Tokyo will open its doors to the public today.

•Additional reporting by Walter Sim, Jermyn Chow, Trinna Leong, Francis Chan and Jeremy Au Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Foreign leaders offer condolences'. Print Edition | Subscribe