S R Nathan

So long, but memories remain

Madam Urmilla Umi Nandey (in wheelchair), wife of former president Nathan, with her children at Parliament House on Aug 25, three days after his death. Mr Nathan died at the age 92.
Madam Urmilla Umi Nandey (in wheelchair), wife of former president Nathan, with her children at Parliament House on Aug 25, three days after his death. Mr Nathan died at the age 92.ST FILE PHOTO

Singapore said goodbye to many things in 2016. From people, to places, to mindsets, the past 12 months gave us plenty to reflect upon. Jose Hong gives a sampling of the events that marked milestones this year.

Remembering the 'People's President'

Tributes flowed in for former president S R Nathan, who died on Aug 22. Many mourners, from political leaders to members of the public, spoke of his humility and dedication to society.

He served as president from 1999 to 2011, and had carved a distinguished career in the civil service lasting about 40 years.

Throughout, Mr Nathan built bridges and was concerned for all in society, values that remain his legacy with many remembering him as the "People's President".

He spearheaded the President's Challenge, which raised over $160 million for the past 15 years to help the less fortunate.

As someone who touched many lives in his 92 years, his departure has left a large hole.

"He was integral in our lives and so his absence is immense," said his daughter, Ms Juthika Ramanathan. She said the family's adjustments "have been made easier by the tremendous support and love shown by our relatives, many friends and even strangers".

Ms Juthika, 57, said they have always marked the end of the year as a quiet family affair.

"It will be the same this year but instead of his presence, we will carry his memory into the new year."

When asked what she thought Mr Nathan would have wanted Singaporeans to do in 2017, she responded: "For the country and the people he loved, he would want us to live united as a society undivided by race, religion or language... and to show kindness and empathy to all whom we come across."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2016, with the headline 'So long, but memories remain'. Print Edition | Subscribe