Nelson Mandela "a saint who bore absolutely no rancour": George Yeo

Former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo (above) joined former and current local politicians in paying tribute to the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela on Friday, Dec 6, 2013, describing him as "a saint who bore absolutely
Former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo (above) joined former and current local politicians in paying tribute to the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela on Friday, Dec 6, 2013, describing him as "a saint who bore absolutely no rancour towards his erstwhile tormentors". -- ST FILE PHOTO: LIM WUI LIANG

Former Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo joined former and current local politicians in paying tribute to the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela on Friday, describing him as "a saint who bore absolutely no rancour towards his erstwhile tormentors".

Speaking to Singapolitics, Mr Yeo said: "He was gracious and exuded goodwill. He did not talk like a conventional political leader about power or strategy, just his hopes for reconciliation and South Africa's future as one people.

"The way he approached (former South Africa prime minister Hendrik) Verwoerd's wife in an unbelievable spirit of reconciliation moved all South Africans."

Mr Verwoerd is remembered as the man behind the conception and implementation of apartheid.

Mr Yeo added that without Mr Mandela, "the history of South Africa after the end of apartheid would have been poisoned at the beginning."

Mr Yeo had met Mr Mandela in 1992, as part of the Singapore delegation that spent 13 days in South Africa on trip led by then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.