PM Lee pays tribute to pioneer generation leader

Family members and friends reciting prayers at the burial of the late Haji Mohamed Ariff Suradi who was laid to rest at the Pusara Abadi Muslim Cemetery on 25 February 2014.

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday paid tribute to one of Singapore's first generation of leaders, Mr Mohamed Ariff Suradi, who died on Tuesday at the age of 84.

PM Lee, writing on his Facebook page, said: "Was sorry to learn of the passing of Haji Mohamed Ariff Suradi.

"He belonged to our pioneer generation of leaders, who set Singapore on the path of growth and success."

Mr Mohamed Ariff, who died of pneumonia, was a legislative assemblyman when Singapore was part of Malaysia, and then an MP after Singapore gained independence, serving in Ulu Pandan and Kampong Kembangan.

"Those were tumultuous times, with racial riots and strong ethnic tensions," Mr Lee wrote.

"Because (he) and the other PAP Malay leaders of his generation stood firm and supported the PAP's vision of a multiracial Singapore, we were able to build the harmonious society that we have today."

Mr Mohamed Ariff retired from politics in 1976.

His grandson, Mr Mohamed Noor Razan Rahmat, 32, told Berita Harian he had fallen ill after returning from the umrah - a minor pilgrimage for Muslims - on Wednesday last week.

In his Facebook note, Mr Lee recalled that he had asked if Mr Mohamed Ariff could attend the Feb 9 Pioneer Generation Tribute event at the Istana but was told that he was unwell and would not be able to make it.

Mr Lee said: "His passing marks another step in the passage of generations.

"Our condolences to Haji Mohamed Ariff's family. May he rest in peace."

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