Ministers pay last respects at private wake for former president S R Nathan

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Ministers and MPs past and present recall their personal moments with former president S R Nathan.
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Body of Mr S R Nathan taken to his residence in Ceylon Road where a private wake will be held until Wednesday. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - Eight pallbearers marched slowly and solemnly with Mr S R Nathan's casket on their shoulders into his family home on Tuesday (Aug 23) morning.

The hearse carrying his body arrived at the Ceylon Road house from the Singapore General Hospital at about 10.45am.

Mr Nathan died peacefully at the hospital on Monday night at the age of 92.

There will be a private wake for family until Wednesday, before the lying in state at Parliament House from 10am on Thursday.

At the wake was Mr Nathan's nephew, who wanted to be known only as Jack. The 66-year-old described him as a "fantastic" uncle.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife arrived at about noon to pay their respects.

Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam arrived at about 12.45pm.

DPM Teo spoke fondly of Mr Nathan's caring nature and called him a "giant of his times" in a doorstop interview outside Mr Nathan's home.

He recalled an incident during the Sars outbreak in 2003 when thermometers were provided to all schools. Mr Nathan called him and said: "Please make sure you look after the kids with special needs as well."

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Mr Tharman said the former President had a deep connection to the Indian community, but was "multiracial to the core".

"Mr Nathan personified multiracialism and he is one of those who made Singapore what it is today," he said.

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Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said that Mr Nathan's contributions to Singapore have been "immense but probably under-appreciated".

"That is because he was not a political leader until he became President. But if you know his life story, from young, he was a very remarkable... public servant," he said outside Mr Nathan's home after he paid his last respects.

Mr Goh Chok Tong says Mr S R Nathan's contribution to Singapore in "under-appreciated". ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Mr Nathan's state funeral will be held at 4pm on Friday at the University Cultural Centre, which will be followed by a private cremation at Mandai Crematorium.

Condolence boards have been set up at the Istana for members of the public to pen tributes to the former President.

Condolence books will also be opened at all Overseas Missions for overseas Singaporeans and friends.

Singapore's longest-serving president had a distinguished career in the civil service before becoming President from 1999 to 2011.

He is survived by his wife Urmila Nathan, his daughter Juthika, his son Osith and three grandchildren.

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PM Lee and his wife Mrs Lee arrived at about noon to pay their respects. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Mrs Lee hugs a family member of Mr S R Nathan. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
The hearse carrying the body of former president S R Nathan arrived at his Ceylon Road home at about 10.30am. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Eight pallbearers prepare to bring Mr S R Nathan's casket into his family home. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Pallbearers carrying Mr S R Nathan's casket on their shoulders into his family home. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

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