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."