Singapore's founding fathers

Singapore's founding fathers

On Monday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in Parliament a new committee that will gather views from the public and conceptualise a memorial for Singapore's founding fathers. He said his father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, did not act alone and worked alongside others to build the nation.

Godwin Ng and Ling Yuanrong take a look at some of them.

DR GOH KENG SWEE (1918-2010)

Key appointment: Deputy Prime Minister (1973-1984)

Legacy: Dr Goh was the economic architect of Singapore. He established the Economic Development Board (EDB) in 1961 to attract foreign investments and transformed Jurong from swamp land into industrial estates. As the nation's first Defence Minister, he recognised Singapore's vulnerability and pushed for national service (NS). Roping in Israeli defence advisers, Dr Goh drew the blueprint for NS. He once said: "It's a minor miracle that we ever got off the ground."

Fast Fact: His frugality was well known among friends. Former PAP MP Chan Chee Seng once told The Straits Times: "When we stopped for a 10-cent sugarcane drink at a hawker's stall, Dr Goh would pay only for himself. When we drove his old Vauxhall car, we had to pay for the petrol." But the former Finance Minister applied that same thriftiness to the nation's economy, laying the foundations for Singapore's economic prosperity today.

MR S. RAJARATNAM (1915-2006)

Key appointment: Deputy Prime Minister (1980-1985)

Legacy: He wrote the Singapore Pledge, which the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew said was "his most enduring legacy". As foreign minister, he also represented Singapore in the Bangkok Declaration of 1967, which led to the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Fast Fact: Mr Rajaratnam met his Hungarian wife, Ms Piroska Feher, at a book club in London, where he was sent to study law by his father. They were remembered by many here as a generous couple. Their Filipino maid, Ms Cecilia Tandoc, once told The Straits Times: "When I went home to visit my family in the Philippines, Mr Rajaratnam paid for my plane ticket and he doubled my pay. He said it was because I was on holiday."

DR TOH CHIN CHYE (1921-2012)

Key appointment: Deputy Prime Minister (1959-1968)

Legacy: He headed the team that designed our national flag and coat of arms, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said is the embodiment of the "values, aspirations, spirit and pride of our nascent nation". Majulah Singapura was also chosen by Mr Toh as the National Anthem.

Fast Fact: A man with humble beginnings, he worked as a hawker assistant in his early 20s and grew sweet potato and tapioca during the Japanese Occupation. His passion for politics was ignited after witnessing a starving man die before his very eyes. Dr Toh was also Minister for Health from 1975 to 1981.

MR LIM KIM SAN (1916-2006)

Key appointment: Minister for National Development (1963-1965)

Legacy: He put a roof over our heads. As chairman of the Housing and Development Board (HDB), Mr Lim tackled Singapore's chronic housing shortage by spearheading public housing efforts in the 60s, moving half a million Singaporeans from slums to affordable HBD flats. As of last year, over 80 per cent of the population live in such flats.

Fast Fact: His passion for golf was such that his final wish before his death in 2006 was to have his ashes strewn over a golf course. Dr Lim Kiat Beng, Mr Lim's son, said in his eulogy: "He achieved a handicap of nine in his heyday. He told me that in many a dream, he dreamt that he was Tiger Woods."

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