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S R Nathan expresses gratitude to Singapore leaders he worked with

At his 90th birthday celebrations on Thursday evening, former President S R Nathan spoke warmly of the years he worked closely with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

SINGAPORE: At his 90th birthday celebrations on Thursday evening, former President S R Nathan spoke warmly of the years he worked closely with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He said he came to know Mr Lee well, both as a colleague and a personal friend.

Mr Nathan said: "I experienced directly, his warmth, and his understanding nature, something which cannot always be communicated through public gatherings. Working with him was among the most positive aspects of my presidential term, and for that I thank you, Mr Prime Minister."

Mr Nathan's celebration was attended by more than 700 guests at the Shangri-La hotel.

His thank you speech named several of Singapore's founding fathers - former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, and the late Dr Goh Keng Swee and Mr S Rajaratnam -- both former deputy prime ministers.

Mr Nathan said being present at many of their meetings with visiting leaders allowed him a ringside seat at the very centre of politics.

It made him aware of all the uncertainties that accompanied Singapore's independence.

"Those were momentous times, which gave me a sense of purpose in accomplishing the tasks assigned to me in later years," he noted.

Mr Nathan said: "Mr Lee Kuan Yew was an inspiration. He didn't suffer fools gladly, but he appreciated a job well done. Dr Goh Keng Swee was a great teacher, intellectually curious, painstaking and generous with his wisdom. Mr S Rajaratnam -- with his quiet, engaging personality -- was able to deal with all kinds of people, including diplomats and hostile journalists, and showed great skill at handling their complexities of political debate."

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