Social media tributes: Othman Wok 'an independence fighter, a fearless leader and a true gentleman'

Ministers, family and ex-colleagues of Mr Othman Wok pay tribute to the the former cabinet minister who died on Monday (April 17) at the age of 92.
The late Mr Othman Wok was lauded on social media by ministers for his contributions to Singapore.
The late Mr Othman Wok was lauded on social media by ministers for his contributions to Singapore.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM

SINGAPORE - Condolences poured in on social media for the late Mr Othman Wok, a member of independent Singapore's first Cabinet, who died aged 92 on Monday (April 17).

Mr Othman, who died at 12.21pm at Singapore General Hospital, had been in poor health for some time.

He was lauded by ministers for helping to make Singapore multiracial in a turbulent time.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said in a Facebook post on Monday that "Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious harmony... is due to the courage of leaders like Mr Othman Wok at a critical juncture of our history".

He added that Singapore's trajectory "could have been so different".


Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam wrote his condolences in both English and Malay on his Facebook page, saying that "we are indebted to him, and will always be".


Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said Mr Othman was "an independence fighter, a fearless leader and a true gentleman".


Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said on Facebook that Mr Othman's passing filled his heart with sadness.


"He was keenly aware that race and religion could become major fault lines and conflicts could arise out of suspicion, misunderstanding and prejudice," he said.

Dr Yaacob also thanked Mr Othman for "paving the path towards progress for our local Malay/Muslim community".

Mr Othman was by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's side in the fight for a multiracial and multi-religious Singapore, and championed the advancement of social welfare services, as minister for social affairs from 1963 to 1977.

"Othman Wok" trended on Twitter on Monday afternoon, with many expressing their condolences.

New Zealand's High Commissioner to Singapore Jonathan Austin tweeted a tribute to Mr Othman, sharing photos of him with then-deputy New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore Brian Lendrum.