Old Guard leader Othman Wok turns 91

At the National Day Parade 2015, three surviving Old Guard leaders – Mr Othman Wok, Mr Jek Yeun Thong, and Mr Ong Pang Boon, sat next to a seat left empty in honour of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION
Mr Othman Wok's granddaughter Indriana looks on as her grandfather works on the original typewriter that churned out the dozens of ghost stories he wrote for Utusan Melayu in this photo taken in 2000. NP PHOTO: WONG KHING CHONG
Mr Othman Wok, carrying out gotong royong, or community activities, in 1966 with residents of Kampong Mat Jambul, Pasir Panjang constituency. PHOTO COURTESY OF MR OTHMAN WOK

SINGAPORE - Former Cabinet minister Othman Wok celebrated his 91st birthday on Saturday. He was born on October 8, 1924.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attended Mr Othman's birthday celebrations, where he presented Mr Othman with a photo album.

PM Lee wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday evening: "Mr Othman was one of the multi-racial team of founding leaders who built Singapore. I gave him an album of photos of memorable moments in his life journey, including a dashing photo of him as an officer cadet in SAF uniform. Glad he liked it."

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim also attended Mr Othman's birthday celebration.

Dr Yaacob wrote: "At Encik Othman Wok's 91st birthday celebrations. May Allah continue to bless him with good health and happiness."

He also posted a selfie of himself with Mr Othman and Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, Maliki Osman.

Mr Othman was among 10 leaders who signed the Independence of Singapore Agreement on Aug 9, 1965.

He was also one of three Old Guard leaders honoured at the Jubilee National Day Parade in August. The other two were Mr Ong Pang Boon, 86, and Mr Jek Yeun Thong, 85.

Born in Singapore to a Malay-language-teacher father and a housewife mum, Mr Othman attended Sekolah Melayu Telok Saga and Raffles Institution.

He was a prominent journalist at daily Malay newspaper Utusan Melayu before he became part of Singapore's first Cabinet.

"I didn't want to be a politician, I wanted to be a journalist," he once told My Paper in an interview in 2012.

He ended up being Singapore's social affairs minister from 1963 to 1977. He later served as Singapore's ambassador to Indonesia.

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