SINGAPORE - Mr Lee Seng Giap was by the side of then Permanent Secretary Ngiam Tong Dow in early talks with China that paved the way for the establishment of bilateral ties in 1990.
He was also there in 1994 when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was Deputy Prime Minister at the time, met former Chinese Vice-Premier Li Lanqing to discuss the Suzhou Industrial Park.
His was the voice heard on television in the 1980s and 1990s when then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew delivered his National Day Rally speech.
"As long as they don't come back and tell me I've done a bad job, I'm very lucky," said the veteran translator and interpreter, now 79.
Earlier this month, Mr Lee was honoured by Minister of State for Communications and Information and Education, Ms Sim Ann, for being one of Singapore's pioneers in the field of translation.
"He has helped to groom many outstanding translators... We need more of such translators in public service," she said then.
Translator Lee Hui Huan, who is in his 60s, said: "Seng Giap does not hesitate when he interprets, he does it confidently.
"This helps the image of a small country on an international stage - that is how you want to come across to foreign counterparts."