SINGAPORE: Former President Tony Tan Keng Yam was given the top honour at this year’s National Day Awards, receiving the Order of Temasek (First Class) on Thursday (Aug 9).
He was among 4,624 people who were recognised for their significant contributions to the nation. Recipients came from varied backgrounds, including the civil service, educational institutions and grassroots organisations.
In a statement, Dr Tan said he is "deeply humbled and greatly honoured" to receive the award.
“Together with many of my generation, I was privileged to serve my country, to see it grow and thrive.
“Our nation remains a work in progress, and Singapore needs the service of men and women from all walks of life to build on our strong foundations to ensure an even brighter future for our nation,” said Dr Tan.
The 78-year-old, who started out as a lecturer in 1964, entered politics in 1979.
Over the decades, he has served in various roles, including being minister for finance, education, defence and trade and industry, as well as deputy prime minister.
After retiring from Cabinet in 2005, Dr Tan took on the mantle of chairmanship in several organisations such as Singapore Press Holdings and the National Research Foundation.
In 2011, he was sworn in as the seventh President of Singapore - a position he held until 2017.
Said Dr Tan: “It has been truly rewarding to work for, and alongside, so many Singaporeans who envisioned a better future for their children and grandchildren.”
RECIPIENTS FROM VARIED BACKGROUNDS
Among those who received the Meritorious Service Medal was Ustaz Ali Mohamed, co-chairman of the Religious Rehabilitation Group.
He has been with the organisation since 2003, when it was launched with a mission to correct misinterpretations of Islamic concepts and dispel extremist ideologies.
The challenge, he said, is the time and patience needed to reform radicalised individuals. And although there is no end to the work that needs to be done, he called it “a blessing” to be involved.
For his efforts, Ustaz Ali previously received the Public Service Medal in 2001 and the Public Service Star in 2010.
One recipient of the Public Service Medal is Mr Rajaram Ramasubban, chairman of the Tamil Language Council.
Along with volunteers and his team, the council organises the Tamil Language Festival every year. The month-long festival has been running for 12 years, with Mr Rajaram helming six editions.
“Knowing your language is important because the language is a window to the way of life that you belong to, the culture that you belong to,” said Mr Rajaram.
He added that the challenge of preserving the language lies in reaching out to youths and making it attractive for them.
Nevertheless, he said volunteer work is meaningful and that the award serves as an encouragement.
“You don't start off by expecting to get an award, but it’s always nice to be acknowledged. This is an acknowledgement not just of the work that I've done - I’m aided by a whole group of volunteers.
“At the same time, the experience of volunteering is a very meaningful and rewarding one. So to that extent it’s already a very meaningful experience and this (award) is sort of an icing on the cake,” he said.
TEAMS INVOLVED IN TRUMP-KIM SUMMIT, PEDRA BRANCA CASES RECOGNISED
In addition, seven teams were awarded the President’s Certificate of Commendation for their contributions in organising the historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Jun 12.
The teams were from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Communications and Information, Prime Minister’s Office, broadcaster Mediacorp, Singapore Police Force, Singapore Armed Forces as well as a group from 11 other government agencies that supported security operations.
Mediacorp CEO Tham Loke Kheng said: “The Mediacorp Team are honoured to receive the President’s Certificate of Commendation. We’re glad to have brought our broadcast and production experience to bear in the landmark summit, watched by the whole world. And we’re especially proud of the teamwork demonstrated by our people – this made it possible for us to provide extensive support and coverage to journalists from across the globe.”
For their contributions to the Pedra Branca cases, an inter-agency team also received the President’s Certificate of Commendation.
A full list of this year’s National Day Award recipients is available on PMO's website.
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