National Day Rally 2014: PM Lee pays tribute to Lee Kuan Yew's former driver, Rahmat Yusak

Mr Rahmat Yusak receiving his Public Service Medal (Bronze) from then President Yusof Ishak. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF ZULKIFLI RAHMAT
Mr Rahmat Yusak receiving his Public Service Medal (Bronze) from then President Yusof Ishak. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF ZULKIFLI RAHMAT
Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew visiting constituencies in the fight against communism in Singapore, with Mr Rahmat Yusak in the driver's seat. In his National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was the boy whose face was hid
Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew visiting constituencies in the fight against communism in Singapore, with Mr Rahmat Yusak in the driver's seat. In his National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was the boy whose face was hidden by the windshield. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF ZULKIFLI RAHMAT
Mr Rahmat Yusak (left) with former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Rahmat was Mr Lee's driver when the latter was visiting constituencies around the island in the battle against the communists. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF ZULKIFLI RAHMAT
Mr Rahmat Yusak (left) with former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Rahmat was Mr Lee's driver when the latter was visiting constituencies around the island in the battle against the communists. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF ZULKIFLI RAHMAT

SINGAPORE - Mr Rahmat Yusak, who died two weeks ago aged 95, helped in his own way to drive Singapore forward.

In the 1960s, he was assigned to drive an open-topped Land Rover carrying former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in the back seat. Mr Lee was visiting constituencies to rally supporters against the communists.

Mr Lee paid tribute to Mr Rahmat in 1980, writing in the People’s Association 20th anniversary magazine about how the cheerful man had sacrificed many weekends for his work. “I cannot adequately express my abiding gratitude... he drove that exposed Land Rover with full confidence, bringing me to all 51 constituencies. (He) understood what was at stake.”

For his services, Mr Rahmat was awarded a Public Service Medal (Bronze) by late former president Yusof Ishak. A widower who left behind six children when he died on Aug 5 from pneumonia, he shared Mr Lee’s belief in a good education.

At the National Day Rally on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid tribute to Mr Rahmat, whose son, Mr Mohamed Zulkifli, a senior journalist at Berita Harian, had written to the PM to say: "My father was only a driver, but I hope people like him will not be forgotten when Singapore honours its Pioneer Generation."

PM Lee said: "We will never forget your father, Mr Rahmat Yusak, nor the many pioneers who built Singapore."