by Rev Sng Chong Hui
Those 4 words sum up the life of our beloved former President of Singapore, the late SR Nathan who passed away peacefully on 22 August 2016.
Unlike many Presidents in the world who have a bright start in their lives, born with a silver spoon or from illustrious families, SR Nathan had a very humble beginning.
At the age of 8, his father took his own life. He came to Singapore to study but was expelled from school at age 16. He then ran away from home. Went to Muar and survived by taking on odd jobs, giving tuition, delivering letters and even worked as a hawker assistant.
Then came the Japanese Occupation. He started learning Japanese from a Japanese-English dictionary. And he became an interpreter for the Japanese until the war ended.
Thereafter he pursued his studies in the University of Malaya. Upon graduation he joined the Public Service, where he quickly rose through the ranks.
As director of the Security and Intelligence Division, Nathan displayed his bravery in the Laju incident. He led a group of Singaporean officials as guarantors to accompany the terrorists on board a plane to Kuwait.
Thank God for his safe return together with the other Singaporeans.
Then he became our first elected minority President serving from 1999 to 2011.
As I watched the news I am totally amazed by the tributes and accolades of his achievements during his Presidency.
He had helped Singapore sailed through many diplomatic storms and even improved bilateral ties with other countries.
He strengthened the Labor Movement and Trade Unions. He initiated the President’s Challenge, which has since raised more than $160 million for various beneficiaries.
And most of all, he is widely remembered for his friendly rapport with people, especially those who have special needs.
He died at a ripe age of 92. He lived a full, tough and eventful life. He left a legacy of good works, great examples and grand inspiration that humble beginning can lead to honored ending.
Thus so says our God in Zechariah 4:10 NLT
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin …”