President Tony Tan visits family of late pioneer leader Othman Wok

The public can pay their respects to the late Mr Othman Wok at the house at 46 Kew Avenue from 6pm on Monday (April 17).
The public can pay their respects to the late Mr Othman Wok at the house at 46 Kew Avenue from 6pm on Monday (April 17).ST PHOTO: ZHAKI ABDULLAH

SINGAPORE - President Tony Tan Keng Yam visited the family of the late pioneer leader Othman Wok on Monday afternoon (April 17), at their house in Kew Avenue.

He penned a condolence message and spoke with family members.

The body of Mr Othman, who died earlier on Monday at the age of 92, was brought back to his house at about 2.45pm in a hearse from Singapore Muslim Casket.

Mr Othman, who was Singapore's first Minister for Social Affairs from 1963 to 1977 and one of the signatories of the Separation Agreement when Singapore separated from Malaysia, died at at the Singapore General Hospital after being in poor health for some time.

His funeral will be held at Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery on Tuesday.

The public can pay their respects at the house at 46 Kew Avenue from 6pm on Monday, said Mr Munir Shah, 64, who is Mr Othman's son-in-law.

Speaking to reporters at the house, Mr Shah said of the late Mr Othman: "We are really deeply honoured that he has been a part of Singapore's history during the days of independence, the formation of Malaysia and the break away from Malaysia."

He said Mr Othman had been warded in the hospital several times over the past months.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had visited Mr Othman in the hospital earlier in the day, he added, but had arrived just four minutes after Mr Othman died.

Among those who visited the family on Monday afternoon were Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, Mufti Fatris Bakaram, Singapore’s highest Islamic authority, and former mufti Syed Isa Semait.

Dr Yaacob described the late Mr Othman as a “multiracial icon” who was both a local and national leader.
Also at the wake were those who worked with Mr Othman at his constituency when he was MP.

Major (Ret) Abbas Abu Amin, 79, who succeeded Mr Othman as MP for Pasir Panjang constituency from 1980 to 1991, told reporters at the house that he learnt a lot from Mr Othman.

“He was very down to earth, he always believed that going to the ground solved the problems,” said Maj (Ret) Abbas.

“I respect him very much for his kind contributions and for his guidance to me.”

In the evening, Mr Othman’s family was visited by former foreign minister George Yeo, former Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi, Deputy Prime Ministers Tharman Shamugaratnam and Teo Chee Hean, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing.

At around 9pm, Prime Minister Lee and Mrs Lee visited the family.