Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and other political leaders paid tribute to the late Dr Dixie Tan on Thursday, pointing to her dedication as a Member of Parliament and her role in promoting special education.
Mr Lee noted that she had entered politics at the same time as he did, in 1984, where for more than a decade the MPs were all men. Together with Dr Aline Wong and Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, the three of them were the only women MPs elected in that year.
"Far from being intimidated by their male colleagues, all three more than held their own, and stood out in the House," Mr Lee said in a condolence letter to her husband, Dr Tan Ngoh Chuan, 83.
Dr Dixie Tan had died of brain cancer on Wednesday. She was 78. She left behind her husband, a son, two daughters and a grandson.
Recalling her quiet self-confidence, and natural warmth and concern for others, he added: "She knew her mind and spoke softly but with conviction. She pressed for what she believed in and felt passionately about, and ministers took her points and requests seriously."
Mr Lee and other political leaders also stressed that she worked hard as an MP for Ulu Pandan, from 1984 to 1991.
Mr Lee noted how she entered politics even though her sons, Russel and Kenneth, had special needs - they had intellectual disabilities - and required her care and attention.
"Dixie was a hardworking MP, who cared for her residents and spoke up for their interests in Parliament...She fulfilled her public as well as family duties amply. Her passing is a sad loss to us all." he said.
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong related how her cardiologist practice suffered as a result of her MP work, and she eventually closed it down. "We found her apolitical but imbued with a sincere desire to serve," said Mr Goh, in a Facebook post.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam recalled how she "participated constructively in the development of government policies especially in the areas of health and education", including to the Advisory Council for the Disabled in 1988, which he chaired as Education Minister then. These included its recommendations to raise the quality of special education schools by increasing funding and improving standards of special education teachers.
"Dixie was an inspiration for all Singaporeans and her passing away is a loss for our country," he said in a condolence letter to her husband.