Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was among several political leaders who paid tribute to the late Dr Dixie Tan yesterday, pointing to her dedication as an MP and her role in promoting special education.
Mr Lee noted that she had entered politics at the same time as he did, in 1984, when for more than a decade, the MPs were all men.
Together with Dr Aline Wong and Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, they were the only women MPs elected that year.
"Far from being intimidated by their male colleagues, all three more than held their own, and stood out in the House," Mr Lee said in a condolence letter to her husband, Dr Tan Ngoh Chuan, 83.
Dr Tan had died of brain cancer on Wednesday. She was 78. She also left behind a son, two daughters and a grandson.
Recalling her quiet self-confidence, and natural warmth and concern for others, PM Lee added: "She knew her mind and spoke softly, but with conviction.
"She pressed for what she believed in and felt passionately about, and ministers took her points and requests seriously."
Mr Lee and other leaders also stressed that she worked hard as an MP for Ulu Pandan, from 1984 to 1991. Mr Lee noted that she entered politics even though her sons, Russell and Kenneth, who had intellectual disabilities, needed her care.
"She fulfilled her public as well as family duties amply." he said.
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said she had to close her cardiologist practice as a result of her MP work.
"We found her apolitical, but imbued with a sincere desire to serve," Mr Goh said in a Facebook post.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam recalled how she "participated constructively in the development of government policies, especially in the areas of health and education", including in the Advisory Council for the Disabled in 1988, which he chaired as education minister then.
"Dixie was an inspiration for all Singaporeans, and her passing away is a loss for our country," he said in a condolence letter.
Her wake is at Mount Vernon Sanctuary Grace Hall today and tomorrow. The funeral service will be on Sunday at Paya Lebar Methodist Church.
This article was published on April 25 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.