While Sir Stamford Raffles was the founder of Singapore, Lieutenant-Colonel William Farquhar was the First Resident Minister from 1819 to 1823. It was he who governed the new settlement in the absence of Raffles, who was stationed in Bencoolen.
Among other challenges, Farquhar had to work within a limited budget. To fund the administration, he raked in revenue through the sale of licences for vices such as gambling dens and gaming houses, and through the sale of opium and alcohol.
Raffles was furious when he returned to Singapore and saw what was happening, as he regarded these activities as immoral.
Despite the prosperity achieved through Farquhar's diligent planning and governance, he was sacked.
John Turnbull's book, "Translations from the Hakayit Abdulla, Bin Abdulkadar, Munshi (1874)", records the day of his departure:
"It is not because he is a great man or a little man, rich or poor, but because of his amiability - on that account only; from this comes the excessive love of the people for him.
"Thousands of people followed him from his house to the seashore, each and every one bidding him goodbye, and offering their respects; and in receiving each, he was detained two hours before he could get into the vessel, his tears flowing.
"The people in the prows now fired cannons, guns, and crackers, some sang, some fiddled, each to their notion... making the whole sea resound... The appearance of the scene was as a father amongst his children, till all were weeping; he wept also."
We saw a similar moving farewell for our late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Other colonial residents are remembered by landmarks, such as Crawford Street, Crawford Lane, Crawford Bridge after John Crawfurd; Church Street after Thomas Church; Raffles Institution after Sir Stamford Raffles.
Singapore used to have a Farquhar Street. It was located between Beach Road and North Bridge Road. However, it was expunged in 1994 due to street realignment and site development.
Shouldn't we consider naming another road to honour this man who laid the foundation of modern Singapore?
Tay Zi Han (Ms)