Singaporeans honour Nathan at lying in state
SINGAPOREANS from all walks of life recounted fond memories of former president S R Nathan as they paid their last respects to him yesterday at Parliament House, where his body was lying in state.
Service engineer S. Sathanatham, 48, was the first in line at 7.30am, more than two hours before Parliament House was opened for the public to pay their respects.
"I came early because I expect there will be a long queue," he told The Straits Times.
"My son goes kart racing.
"In 2009, President Nathan signed his helmet because a family friend passed it to him.
"We kept that helmet and my son used it just once.
"So this is the least I could do. Mr Nathan was also part of the old guard who did a lot for this country."
A 700-strong group from the labour movement, led by labour chief and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, was also among the early birds.
"His heart has always been for the common folk, the people who need the most help," said Mr Chan of the former president after paying his respects.
Said Union of Security Employees president Hareenderpal Singh, 28: "Mr Nathan was also a union leader, and he united all the unions together.
"He was a very inspirational leader and we felt that paying our respects was the least we could do as a show of our solidarity as a union."
At 10am, a steady stream of people started to enter Parliament House.
First among them were President Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife Mary Tan.
"Mr S R Nathan will be sorely missed by Singaporeans. His heart and commitment to Singapore is an inspiration," said Dr Tan, after paying his respects.
Mr Nathan's family, including his 87-year-old wife Urmila, son Osith and daughter Juthika, were also present.
Veteran opposition leader Chiam See Tong, 81, who arrived in a wheelchair, stood up briefly as he paid his respects.
He also spoke to Mr Nathan's family.
According to Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, students and representatives from 120 schools were to pay their last respects to Mr Nathan yesterday.
Members of Parliament such as Tin Pei Ling, Louis Ng and Cheng Li Hui also came to pay their respects.
As of noon, close to 3,000 people had paid their respects in Parliament House, according to the State Funeral Organising Committee.
THE STRAITS TIMES