S R Nathan's state funeral: He planted seeds in us to be better Singaporeans, says Chan Chun Sing

Mr S R Nathan and Mr Chan Chun Sing at the launch of Mr Nathan's book, 50 Stories From My Life. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The late former president S R Nathan planted "the seeds in us younger Singaporeans, to be better Singaporeans for a stronger Singapore", said labour movement chief and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing.

In his eulogy at the state funeral for Mr Nathan on Friday (Aug 26) afternoon, Mr Chan shared the lessons he had learned from Mr Nathan over the years, including most recently in the labour movement.

Speaking in Mandarin, he recounted their first meeting 20 years ago. Mr Nathan had been asked by the Ministry of Defence to set up a think-tank, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, and Mr Chan - then a young army officer - was assigned to assist him.

"Mr Nathan taught me the first of many important lessons. That is, only the lack of imagination can set us back," recalled Mr Chan.

"He told me that he had never set up a think-tank either. But, if you understand the mission and purpose, then fear not how to complete it... We will figure it out together."

Mr Nathan also showed how to care for others, treating his staff officers as family. And when Mr Chan became secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Mr Nathan shared his experience and insights as a veteran of the labour movement.

Just last May, despite his health and busy schedule, Mr Nathan visited the NTUC to share his views, reminding them to "stay focused as a labour movement that not only takes care of our working people, but also our country".

He also asked if the labour movement would "be our brothers' keeper" and take care of each other.

"Yes, we will, Mr Nathan," said Mr Chan. "We will take care of each other. We will take care of Singapore. Your pioneer generation toiled, with blood, sweat and tears, to give us the chance to be called Singaporeans. We, the younger generation, will build on it."

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