Like most Singaporeans, I did not get up close to Former President S R Nathan. I did not get invited to Istana to meet him. I am one of the many millions who only knew him from media reports of him. S R Nathan was Singapore elected-President for a good 12 years from 1999 to 2011. He was the President when Singapore faced the Global Financial Crisis and the SARS crisis. They were turbulent times.
I saw S R Nathan in photos, newspaper reports and on TV. I think I knew him well enough even we were miles apart, a mere citizen and a President. I felt comforted when looking at him. He had this ever-ready smile.His training in social work stood out.
S R Nathan still looked good at 91 years old in January 2015 during the launch of his book “S R Nathan in Conversation”. He was about a month younger than my mom. This is another connection I felt. Both went through the Japanese Occupation and survived the horror.
What impressed me most and most memorable were pictures of him doing his morning walk at East Coast Park. Then I saw another photo of him recently in his Sarong and barefooted outside his home before he was elected as President. This is what we normally do as common citizens. He connected with us. He was not that “atas” given his position and history.
Remembering a great man as I write this.