Dr Wee Kim Wee 'a humble man and humanist'

Dr Wee Kim Wee, the late former president of Singapore, was remembered as a humble man and humanist at a ceremony held yesterday on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Speakers at the event, held at Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, included his daughter, Madam Wee Eng Hua, and former Straits Times (ST) editor-in-chief Peter H.L. Lim.

Dr Wee, who died in 2005, was celebrated as a "diplomatic journalist"and "People's President".

In a speech, Madam Wee, 73, said: "My father was a humble man and remained, until the end of his days, helpful to the poor, the forgotten and the people in need."

Dr Wee began his career as a clerk at ST, and became its deputy editor in 1959.

He guided the paper through a period of tense relations with the newly formed People's Action Party government, before serving as Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia from 1973 to 1980 and later as ambassador to Japan and South Korea.

He became Singapore's fourth president in 1985, and won over the hearts of the people during his eight years in office.

Mr Lim, who worked with Dr Wee at ST, described him as a tenacious journalist and an accessible editor.

"He would hold our hands when we needed him and, after he moved on to higher callings, he never forgot what it was like for a journalist in Singapore," he said.

Said NTU deputy president and provost Freddy Boey: "Throughout his life, journalism had a very special place in Dr Wee's heart. He is the epitome of the journalists that NTU aspires to produce."

A portrait of Dr Wee was revealed at the ceremony, and will be placed in the school.

Madam Wee, the fifth of seven children, said that besides being an esteemed journalist and statesman, Dr Wee was also a loving father who was sorely missed.

The biggest lesson he taught her, she said, was to "be a human being".

"That is what my father stood for, and what he believed in. He fought for the dignity of man."


This article was first published on November 5, 2015.
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