SINGAPORE: The Singapore Government has extended its deep condolences to the family of the late Jek Yeun Thong.
In a statement on Wednesday (Jun 6), the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said Mr Jek, a key member of the People's Action Party (PAP) Old Guard, "contributed significantly to the building of modern Singapore". He passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, according to the statement.
In accordance with Mr Jek's wishes, his family held a private wake and a funeral, PMO said, adding that the funeral was on Tuesday.
Mr Jek, a member of Singapore's first Cabinet, was one of 10 ministers who signed the Separation Agreement in 1965.
"As a key member of the PAP Old Guard, he served in multiple capacities
in the Cabinet and in public service, and contributed significantly to the building of modern Singapore," PMO said in the statement.
As a mark of respect and in recognition of Mr Jek's contributions to the nation, the Government has ordered the State Flag on all Government buildings to be flown at half-mast on Thursday, it added.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has also paid tribute to Mr Jek in a letter to his wife.
In the letter, Mr Lee said one of Mr Jek's biggest political contributions was mobilising the Chinese-speaking ground to support the PAP's vision of a non-Communist, multiracial Singapore.
He also helped draft and win support for the 1968 Employment Act, which Mr Lee described as a "key milestone in building harmonious labour relations in Singapore, without which we could not have attracted investments and industrialised rapidly in the 1970s".
On a personal note, the Prime Minister recalled that when he first entered politics in 1984, Mr Jek - a Member of Parliament for Queenstown - was "friendly and generous" to the younger MPs.
"After he retired as an MP in 1988, he continued to stay in touch with old comrades, and I was always glad to see him at reunions and gatherings."
He wrote in the letter to Mrs Jek: "Mr Jek's passing is a deep loss to the nation ... My thoughts are with you and your family during this time of sorrow."
President Halimah Yacob said that Mr Jek had the foresight when it came to building the foundation for Singapore's foreign policy.
"Singapore owes much to Mr Jek and the other founding fathers for their untiring dedication and desire to do what is needed for our nation to thrive.
"Today, we enjoy the fruits of that effort and stand in debt to Mr Jek and the other founding fathers. Our thoughts are with Mdm Huang Kek Chee and the family during their time of grief," Madam Halimah said.
Other ministers have taken to social media to pay tributes to the late Mr Jek.
On Facebook, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli recalled him as someone who had often raised the issue of wealth distribution when he was a backbencher in parliament, while Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing called him a "pioneer" who was always "dedicated to serving Singapore and Singaporeans".
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said that she will fondly remember him for his "unwavering commitment". She added that Mr Jek, who had organised Singapore's first Chingay Parade, had strongly believed in "the power of the arts to transcend barriers, and bring Singaporeans closer together".
The Prime Minister's letter is reproduced in full below: