Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong led the tributes to newly retired Temasek Holdings chairman S Dhanabalan on Tuesday, saying Singapore has been fortunate to have had leaders like him who led with conviction and dedication.
Mr Dhanabalan's strong conviction was what made him valuable as a Cabinet minister, Mr Lee said, as he was prepared to voice his disagreements with policies and also searched his conscience to "do the right thing".
Speaking at a dinner at the Ritz Carlton Hotel to mark Temasek's 39th anniversary, Mr Lee told the audience of 350 guests: "Singapore has been lucky to have had stewards like Dhana to take care of our affairs. They believe in what they are doing. They dedicate their hearts and souls to the task."
Mr Dhanabalan stepped down as Temasek chairman last week after 17 years at the helm of the investment company.
That marked the end of a career spanning over five decades in the private sector and in politics, 15 of them as a minister from 1978 to 1993.
Mr Lee recalled how Mr Dhanabalan had long resisted the idea of Group Representation Constituencies, as he felt that people would vote based on a person's character and abilities rather than on race.
But he eventually concluded that it would be many years before race "would cease to matter in Singapore", and that it was important to safeguard minority representation in Parliament, Mr Lee said.