Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sent a condolence letter to the widow of former Cabinet Minister Chua Sian Chin on Thursday, saying his death was a sad loss to Singapore.
His contributions, however, would live on in Singapore's policies and institutions, PM Lee added. Mr Chua, 81, died on Wednesday of heart failure.
He belonged to the pioneer generation of leaders who had led the country to independence and set it on the path to growth, said PM Lee.
"Like quite a few others, he was born in Malaya, in his case Malacca, but came to Singapore to seek his future and make it his home," he wrote in the two-page letter addressed to Mrs Alice Chua.
In a political career spanning 27 years, Mr Chua had helmed the Health, Home Affairs and Education ministries. He was first elected into Parliament in 1968 and retired in 1991.
PM Lee recounted how Mr Chua had improved public health standards and promoted medical specialisation as Health Minister. Later on, as Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Chua strengthened the Penal Code and established Singapore's community policing system. And during his stint in education, he enhanced the vocational and technical streams and promoted biligualism.
In his letter, PM Lee also wrote of how Mr Chua was studying law in London when he met Dr Goh Keng Swee, an Old Guard leader who was then Singapore's deputy prime minister.
It was during that period that he met founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Mr Chua later recounted what a "profound impression Mr Lee had made on him and his fellow students", wrote PM Lee.
After his graduation, Mr Chua returned to Malaya to work as a barrister, and later joined Lee & Lee, before going into politics.
As an MP, he was also known for his humility and his dedication towards the residents of his MacPherson ward, said PM Lee.
MacPherson was then a brand new estate, and Mr Chua had ensured that his residents settled well into their new homes. He had also personally groomed many of the grassroots volunteers there, some of whom are still serving today, noted PM Lee.
"Many older residents remember him fondly for his hard work and attention to their welfare," he said.