After death of Othman Wok, only two members of independent Singapore's first Cabinet remain

(From left) Mr Othman, Mr Ong and Mr Jek were last photographed together in public during the National Day Parade in 2015, which marked Singapore's Golden Jubilee.
(From left) Mr Othman, Mr Ong and Mr Jek were last photographed together in public during the National Day Parade in 2015, which marked Singapore's Golden Jubilee. PHOTO: MCI

SINGAPORE - With the death of Mr Othman Wok, only two members of independent Singapore's first cabinet remain.

They are former Ministers Ong Pang Boon, 88, and Jek Yeun Thong, 86.

The two men, together with Mr Othman, 92, who died on Monday (April17) at the Singapore General Hospital, were part of the People's Action Party's (PAP) Old Guard - the pioneer generation of leaders during Singapore's early years that were a key part of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's team.

Mr Othman, Mr Ong and Mr Jek were last photographed together in public during the National Day Parade in 2015, which marked Singapore's Golden Jubilee.

Both Mr Ong and Mr Jek have held various key ministerial posts.

Mr Ong was appointed Minister for Home Affairs in 1959 when the PAP won the Legislative Assembly General Election and formed the government of self-governing Singapore.

He went on to hold other portfolios, including education, labour, the environment and communications, during his political career, which lasted until 1988.

During his stint as Home Affairs Minister, Mr Ong spearheaded the "anti-yellow culture" campaign, a nationwide anti-vice movement targeting pornography, gambling dens, prostitution and secret societies.

Mr Jek, who joined politics in 1963, was appointed Labour Minister in 1963 and tasked with reforming the trade unions that had been taken over by communists.

He also held ministerial positions for Culture, and Science and Technology during his political career. He stepped down from politics in 1988.

As Minister for Culture, Mr Jek promoted Asian art and values as a "cultural ballast" against Western decadence.

He also held diplomatic positions - as High Commissioner to both the United Kingdom and Denmark.

Mr Ong and Mr Jek are the only remaining signatories to the Independence of Singapore Agreement signed in 1965, when Singapore separated from Malaysia.

The other eight who signed the independence agreement are Mr Lee, Mr Othman, former deputy prime minister Toh Chin Chye, former finance minister Goh Keng Swee, former law minister E W Barker, former culture minister S Rajaratnam, former health minister Yong Nyuk Lin and former national development minister Lim Kim San.