While waiting in line at a briyani stall in Newton Food Centre years ago, Nominated MP Ganesh Rajaram realised that the person in front of him was then Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim.
Speaking during the debate on the President's Address yesterday, Mr Ganesh said: "What struck me then was his humility and graciousness - no one would have noticed that a minister was in the queue. He was friendly, approachable and got his food without fuss - all this, with his trademark smile. I was impressed."
To the Nominated MP, it underscored the former minister's down-to-earth personality.
Mr Ganesh was among several parliamentarians who paid tribute yesterday to three retired ministers - former communications and information minister Yaacob, former trade and industry minister Lim Hng Kiang and former manpower minister Lim Swee Say - who recently stepped down from Cabinet.
He said Singapore owes a debt of gratitude to them for their dedicated service and contributions.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli also expressed his "highest appreciation" for Dr Yaacob's contributions. He took over from Dr Yaacob as Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs in last month's Cabinet reshuffle. Speaking in Malay, he said: "Mr Deputy Speaker, allow me to record my highest appreciation to Dr Yaacob Ibrahim for his excellent contributions as the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs for 16 years. We have benefited from his leadership during his tenure."