The man who tops the list of recipients of this year's National Day Awards says he owes a lot to his main mentor - a former president.
The mentor is the late former president S R Nathan. And the man getting the top award is Public Service Commission (PSC) chairman Eddie Teo.
Mr Teo, 70, was given the Order of Nila Utama (First Class) - one of Singapore's top national honours. He is the only recipient of the award this year.
A total of 4,323 individuals, including public servants, community and grassroots leaders and educators, will receive National Day honours this year. Each year, the awards recognise individuals for their contributions to Singapore.
Two people were awarded the Distinguished Service Order: former ambassador to Japan Chin Siat Yoon and the Singapore Management University board of trustees' chairman Ho Kwon Ping.
Seven others received the Meritorious Service Medal.
Mr Teo said in a statement yesterday that he is "deeply honoured and truly grateful" for the award.
Mr Teo joins a small group of individuals who have been conferred the Order of Nila Utama for their contributions. The others include former deputy prime minister Toh Chin Chye, Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh and Mr J.Y. Pillay, chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers.
He is a President's Scholar who started his public service career with the Security and Intelligence Division (SID) in 1970.
His public service career spanned some 35 years before his retirement in 2005. It included permanent secretary appointments at the Ministry of Defence and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
However, it was his early years in the SID working with his "greatest mentor", Mr Nathan, that left a deep imprint on him. Mr Nathan was director of the SID from 1971 to 1979.
"He taught me the values, discipline and instincts required for public service," said Mr Teo, who later became director of the SID in 1979 and held that post until 1994.
He was appointed permanent secretary for defence from 1994 to 2000 and also held the same position in the PMO from 1998 to 2005.
After retiring, he was appointed Singapore's high commissioner to Australia, before returning to become PSC chairman in 2008.
As chairman of the PSC, Mr Teo has championed recruiting students from diverse backgrounds as scholarship holders.
"I would like to thank my fellow PSC members, who are all busy people with important jobs or big organisations to run, who nevertheless are willing to volunteer their time and energy to contribute to the public good," he said.
"I thank them for being willing to challenge my views and for disagreeing with me, in order that I can make better decisions."
Mr Teo also helmed the Presidential Elections Committee that vetted potential candidates in 2011, and was a member of the Constitutional Commission on the elected presidency last year.
Yesterday, he thanked his wife Antonia for her support. They have two sons, Paul and John.
Mr Teo joins a small group of individuals who have been conferred the Order of Nila Utama. The others include former deputy prime minister Toh Chin Chye, Ambassador-at- Large Tommy Koh and Mr J.Y. Pillay, chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers.
Mr Teo was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 2006.
He acknowledged the dedicated public servants he has worked with, saying: "Without them, things would not work, and the Singapore Public Service would not be so highly regarded by so many countries in the world."