SINGAPORE - Former Cabinet minister S. Dhanabalan was conferred Singapore's top civilian honour, the Order of Temasek (First Class), for his contributions to the country's success and prosperity.
The former Temasek Holdings chairman was among 450 people who received their awards from President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the National Day Awards investiture on Sunday night, held at the University Cultural Centre.
This year's awards, which come on the 50th year of Singapore's independence, recognised the hard work and dedication of its pioneers and those who made outstanding contributions to nation-building.
Mr Dhanabalan, 78, was commended for his stellar contributions as a leader and mentor to the community, businesses and in Government throughout much of Singapore's independence.
In Singapore's initial years, he was in a select group of pioneers driving its economic strategies. Later, he steered Temasek Holdings through a period of global volatility as its chairman from 1996 to 2013.
He was in the Cabinet for close to 17 years, starting in 1976.
He retired from politics in September 1992 but returned three months later to be the Minister of Trade and Industry for a year when Singapore's two deputy prime ministers were diagnosed with cancer.
Mr Dhanabalan helmed a wide array of ministries that included foreign affairs, culture, community development, national development as well as trade and industry.
He is only the eighth individual to be conferred the Order of Temasek (First Class). Most recently, former president S R Nathan received the award in 2013.
The country's next-highest award, the Order of Nila Utama (First Class), was given to former president of the Singapore National Employers Federation, Mr Stephen Lee, who stepped down last year after holding the post for 26 years.
Mr Lee was lauded for his contributions in strengthening the tripartite relationship among businesses, unions and the Government, as well as ensuring Singapore's economic progress.
Six veteran public servants, including two former parliamentarians, received the Distinguished Service Order.
Former Tiong Bahru MP Ch'ng Jit Koon and former senior minister of state for education Sidek Saniff were honoured for their contributions to the Chinese and the Malay/Muslim community respectively, as well as the grassroots.
The other four Distinguished Service Order recipients were: former defence chief Winston Choo; former police commissioner Tee Tua Ba; chairman of the Centre for Liveable Cities advisory board Liu Thai Ker; and Gardens by the Bay chief executive Tan Wee Kiat.
Thirteen individuals were given the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of their contributions in sectors such as religious harmony, the arts, sports and education.
The Commendation Medal was awarded to 16 teachers, guides and instructors for their actions during the Sabah earthquake in June.
They guided the Tanjong Katong Primary School pupils on Mount Kinabalu under their care to safety.
Five of them lost their lives : teachers Mohammad Ghazi Mohamed and Terrence Sebastian Loo, guide Muhammad Daanish Amran as well as two Malaysian trainers Ricky Masirin and Valerian Joannes.
Their family members received the posthumous awards.
The citation for the group said: "Their actions under difficult circumstances exemplify the spirit of educators."
Teacher Mohamed Faizal Abdul Salam, 28, who sustained a skull fracture while shielding a pupil, told The Straits Times: "It's a very nice gesture to be given this award, and for it to be given to our colleagues who passed away, because everybody played an important role when it happened."