Former Cabinet minister talks about his cancer fight

SINGAPORE - Former Cabinet minister Othman Wok was diagnosed with cancer but said he has been resting since his operation in May this year.

The 88-year-old, who was one of the 10 Old Guard ministers who formed Singapore's first Cabinet after independence in 1965, shared details about his ongoing fight with colon cancer during an interview, which was published yesterday in Malay-language newspaper Berita Harian.

In that report, Mr Othman said he had surgery for the cancer in May this year, and was told by his doctor not to drive and to rest during the following six months. He said he gauged his current state of health to be at about 70 per cent, but added that his doctor told him "not to worry about my sickness".

"I have to continue life as usual," he said, adding that he hoped to resume driving after November. "If I can't drive, I will just have to stay at home."

Mr Othman was a prominent journalist at daily Malay newspaper Utusan Melayu before he became part of Singapore's first Cabinet, where he was social affairs minister.

He suffered a heart attack and had bypass surgery in 2000.

Mr Othman also said in the interview with Berita Harian that the achievements of the Malay community so far are a result of efforts taken to transform their own lives. He added that the community had also enjoyed improved standards in education.

He said many Malay students these days study in universities both here and overseas. Those who have succeeded have secured high positions in the Government and private sectors.

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