President Tony Tan Keng Yam pays tribute to late pioneer diplomat Maurice Baker

Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore on July 5, 2017 PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - The late pioneer generation diplomat Maurice Baker helped place Singapore on the world map during its early years of nationhood, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday (July 12), the president paid tribute to Mr Baker, who died at the age of 97 the day before.

Dr Tan highlighted Mr Baker's achievements in diplomacy, in particular how he helped to rebuild Singapore's ties with Malaysia afterSeparation.

Mr Baker was appointed High Commissioner to Malaysia in 1969.

Singapore had separated from Malaysia just four years earlier, and its northern neighbour had declared a state of emergency after the 1969 racial riots.

"Amidst the tumultuous times, Mr Baker played a key role in rebuilding Singapore's ties with Malaysia. He was resourceful and tapped on his good personal relations with the Malaysian leaders," said Dr Tan.

He added: "Despite the momentous contributions he made in that important chapter of Singapore's history, Mr Baker remained humble and once described himself as a 'novice' in international affairs during that period."

Mr Baker, who taught English language and literature at the then-University of Singapore, was also well respected in academia and well-loved by his students for his personable nature, wit, and engaging lessons, said the President.

"Singapore benefitted tremendously from Mr Baker's lifelong contributions to public service. He was a pioneer and role model to many in the diplomatic circle," he said.

Dr Tan called his passing a great loss to his family and to Singapore.

"But I am glad that his son Bernard is now continuing Mr Baker's legacy as a respected diplomat," he added.

The younger Mr Baker, 60, is Singapore's High Commissioner to New Zealand.

Dr Tan said that he and his wife Mary were deeply saddened by his death, and that their thoughts and prayer were with Mr Baker's wife Barbara and her family.

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