Former MP and Minister of State Bernard Chen dies after short illness, aged 72

Former MP and Minister of State Bernard Chen dies after short illness, aged 72
Former Member of Parliament and Minister of State Bernard Chen Tien Lap, 72, died on Wednesday morning after a short illness, a former People's Action Party parliamentary colleague disclosed on Wednesday.

SINGAPORE - Former Member of Parliament and Minister of State Bernard Chen Tien Lap, 72, died on Wednesday morning after a five-month battle with cancer, his son Francis Chen told The Straits Times on Wednesday.

Mr Chen served as a People's Action Party (PAP) MP from 1977 to 2001 and was Minister of State for Defence from 1977 to 1981.

According to The Straits Times, his former parliamentary colleagues, including President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, former Cabinet ministers S. Dhanabalan and Mr Lim Chee Onn, and Mr S. Chandra Das, visited Mr Chen at his home during the months that he was ill.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Mr Goh paid tribute to Mr Chen, whom he called a "righteous man of service".

President Tony Tan Keng Yam also sent a condolence message to Mr Chen's wife, Louisa.

Mr Tan wrote: "Bernard was committed to a lifetime of service. He began his distinguished career in the Public Service in 1967 in the Economic Development Board (EDB) and subsequently served in the Ministries of Defence and Finance before becoming Minister of State for Defence from 1977 to 1981. He represented the constituencies of Radin Mas, Clementi, Pasir Panjang, Brickworks and West Coast as a Member of Parliament over a period of more than 20 years. After retirement from public office, Bernard contributed his wealth of management experience to the development of Singapore’s private sector as General Manager and Director of Fraser & Neave (F&N) and Chief Executive Officer of Intraco. He was also Chairman of Singapore General Hospital and a Director of DBS Bank.

"Deeply concerned about promoting the welfare of our workers, Bernard served as Adviser to the Union of Keppel Shipyard Employees of Singapore and later as a Director of the Singapore Labour Foundation. For his contributions to the union movement, Bernard was awarded the NTUC Friend of Labour Award in 1979 and the NTUC Meritorious Service Award in 1986.

"As a Catholic, Bernard was deeply religious and a strong advocate of family values and education. He was Chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS) for 10 years and also the Chairman of Catholic Junior College Management Committee. Up till the last days of his life, Bernard was still involved in helping to raise funds for the redevelopment of Novena Church. When Mary and I visited Bernard at your home last Friday, he talked passionately about the details of the church rebuilding plans.

"Bernard was always approachable and ready to help. When I was elected into Parliament in 1979 and joined the Cabinet as Senior Minister of State for Education, Bernard gave me useful advice on the workings of the Cabinet and Parliament, and readily shared his experience in constituency work. He was a good friend and we continued to keep in touch after he retired from politics.

"Bernard made lifelong contributions to Singapore’s development in the private, public and people sectors. It was a privilege for me to have worked with him as a Cabinet colleague and Member of Parliament. His passing is a loss to all of us.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time of grief."

candicec@sph.com.sg

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