Farewell to the President

President, PM hail Mrs Mary Tan's empathy and warmth

President Tony Tan said his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, brought warmth to the highest office in the land.
President Tony Tan said his wife, Mrs Mary Tan, brought warmth to the highest office in the land.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
President Tony Tan Keng Yam teases Mrs Mary Tan that it is now his turn to take a picture with his past and present Personnel Security Officers after Mrs Tan had taken one with her past and present female Personnel Security Officers, on Aug 23, 2017.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam teases Mrs Mary Tan that it is now his turn to take a picture with his past and present Personnel Security Officers after Mrs Tan had taken one with her past and present female Personnel Security Officers, on Aug 23, 2017. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Confetti was showering down on a buggy carrying President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife Mary at this year's Chingay parade in February.

Mrs Tan leaned forward to dust off some confetti on the buggy driver's hair.

That endearing moment, captured on video, was a spontaneous gesture typical of her warm personality, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recounted yesterday.

"Singaporeans will remember her fondly for her grace, empathy and warmth," he said in a speech at the farewell reception for Dr Tan at the end of his six-year term.

Thanking Mrs Tan, 76, for her contributions and support for her husband throughout his years of public service, PM Lee noted how she was always by Dr Tan's side as he carried out his duties as president, whether he was engaging foreign dignitaries or meeting Singaporeans from all walks of life.

"She would put everyone at ease with a friendly word and a gentle smile," he said, to murmurs of agreement from many among the 200 guests at the Istana.

Dr Tan, 77, said his wife brought warmth to the highest office in the land. "In this journey, I have been so blessed to share it with Mary. Throughout our marriage, she has been a tremendous source of strength and wise counsel," he said.

https://youtu.be/8ZXLCK665_U

He added that she has been a key pillar of support, both before and during his presidency.

"She has a genuine empathy for people which has brought warmth to this office and helped me throughout my career."

As applause resounded through the banquet hall, Dr Tan stepped down from the stage - and into the arms of Mrs Tan, his biggest supporter. They embraced, before Dr Tan was swarmed by well-wishers, his wife by his side.

https://youtu.be/3Mix9psQ0Sk

Joanna Seow and Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2017, with the headline 'President, PM hail Mrs Mary Tan's empathy and warmth'. Print Edition | Subscribe