Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Farewell former President S.R. Nathan

I know this posting is late. I wanted to wait 6 months after Mr. S.R Nathan's passing on 22 August 2016 before penning down this story...

I was away when I received news that Singapore's 6th President Mr S.R. Nathan has passed away. It was about two months before his passing that he wrote me a note to compliment me about the book that I had written. I was saddened by the news and wanted to attend the public wake when I returned to Singapore. 
When I came home the next day, I received a WhatsApp message from a journalist asking me if I had visited the family. I replied, "No" as I wanted to attend the public wake.

"Pls come to the house now. Mrs Nathan asked for you."
"She knew me?"
"She asked one of the Malay women, "Are you Hidayah Amin?" The woman replied, "No. Hidayah is much younger." Mrs Nathan asked, "Where is Hidayah Amin? I want to meet her. My husband talked so fondly of her."

Oh my. I quickly went to the Nathan's residence to pay my respect. I introduced myself to Mrs Nathan.

"Finally, we got to meet you! My husband always talked about you. You're the one who got burgled in Cambridge, right? He thought highly of you and asked the grandkids to be like you. He said, "Whatever I invest in this girl, I got back every penny."

I was introduced to the grand-children and Juthika, Mr S.R. Nathan's daughter who seemed happy to meet me. What a sad occasion to be meeting the family who got to know me from their father's stories. Juthika told me her father was going through the Kampung Tempe book before he fell ill.

When I saw Mr Nathan resting in his coffin, tears flowed down my cheek. How many Presidents do you know, took a keen interest in you and your education/achievements? And how many Presidents do you know, took time to listen to you over coffee? Farewell Mr Nathan. Thank you for believing in me. 

What I wrote on my FB on 24 August 2016: 
The late Mr. S.R Nathan had helped many of us when we were students. May he be rewarded for his kind deeds.
"He recalled a group of Malay students who did well and were admitted to prestigious British universities including Cambridge University and Imperial College London.
But they could not go on their own dime or that of self-help group Mendaki, which does not fund overseas education.

When he heard about their plight, Mr Nathan personally arranged for donors to pay their fees.
He went a step further and asked public agencies to give the students internships and jobs so that they would return to Singapore.
"He said we should do what we can to help them succeed in the universities there and then come back and be leaders of the community here in Singapore," said Mr Tan." - read article
*Shame on Mendaki, which despite having millions in funds, didn't help us. They didn't even groom us whom Mr Nathan believed could be future leaders of the community. Get rid of the Hang Nadim syndrome - it won't benefit the community and Singapore!

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