Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong celebrated former president S R Nathan's 90th birthday last night by recounting Mr Nathan's many contributions in his "long and full life".
Mr Nathan was Singapore's sixth and longest-serving president.
He wore many hats, from clerk to unionist, ambassador to President, but his most important role, said Mr Lee, was that of "tree planter".
"Wherever he went, he nurtured young seedlings into mature trees," said Mr Lee in a speech at the Shangri-La Hotel, where he was among the more than 700 guests at the birthday celebration.
Mr Nathan, he explained, had grown young organisations like the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs into mature institutions.
He had also mentored promising officers, helping them reach their potential.
Singapore under his care grew into a modern, prosperous and stable nation, said Mr Lee.
Mr Nathan also literally planted trees, he added.
While he was ambassador to the US, Mr Nathan planted a Japanese Maple in the embassy garden in Washington, DC.
Mr Lee, who was in Washington, DC last week, said the tree was still lush and thriving, reported The Straits Times Online.
"As are the many other trees that Mr Nathan planted in the organisations he led and the people he touched," he said.
This article was first published on JULY 4, 2014.
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