SINGAPORE: Mr Joseph Conceicao, a pioneer diplomat and former Member of Parliament for Katong, had served Singapore "with distinction", said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a condolence letter to Mr Conceicao's wife Anita on Friday (Aug 16).
Mr Conceicao, who was a member of the People's Action Party Old Guard and served as Katong MP for 16 years, died of a heart attack at the age of 95 on Tuesday night.
“Joe was an eminent member of our Pioneer Generation. He served Singapore with distinction as a parliamentarian, diplomat and educator,” Mr Lee wrote, recalling how founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had praised Mr Conceicao in Parliament in 1977 for having "done his homework".
In the letter, Mr Lee described Mr Conceicao as having been "completely dedicated to his duties", citing how Mr Conceicao learnt Mandarin to connect better with his constituents and how he turned up at the Nomination Centre to file his papers in the 1980 General Election despite having had a heart attack just before.
"Such was his fighting spirit," said Mr Lee.
Mr Lee also said that Mr Conceicao had been "curious, charismatic and always engaging" - qualities that came to the fore in his diplomatic service.
Among others, Mr Conceicao had been Ambassador to Indonesia, High Commissioner to Australia and Ambassador to the Soviet Union.
"JOE SERVED THE NATION TIRELESSLY": PM LEE
Calling him Joe, Mr Lee said Mr Conceicao "served the nation tirelessly", having been involved with the People's Association, National Museum Board and Adult Education Board - the predecessor of the Institute of Technical Education.
"Always thoughtful about preparing the younger generation for the future and teaching them about our past, Joe shared his personal experiences widely, including in an autobiography which vividly and movingly described his experiences during the Japanese occupation," wrote Mr Lee.
Earlier on Friday, Mr Lee paid tribute to the late Joseph Conceicao on Facebook.
In his post, he wrote that he was “deeply saddened” by Mr Conceicao's passing and remembered him as warm and charismatic, and lauded him for his contributions to the Eurasian community in Singapore.
“Beyond his official duties, Joe was one of the finest members of the Eurasian community, actively giving back through The Eurasian Association, Singapore as the beloved ‘Uncle Joe’,” said Mr Lee.
“A warm, charismatic and committed man, Joe leaves behind a distinguished legacy. My thoughts are with his wife and his family in this time of loss."