Sunday, August 14, 2011

Remembering President Ong Teng Cheong

Mr. Ong Teng Cheong was the Secretary General of NTUC from 1983 to 1993. During this time, I got to know him, but not very well, as I was heading a NTUC cooperative.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Ong promoted the orchid motif as the symbol of the Singapore Dress. It was intended to be the national dress from Singapore, similar to the batik and barong talog used in our neighboring countries.

NTUC Income produced a set of ties in different colors using the orchid motif and presented them to Mr. Ong  on his departure from NTUC to contest the Presidential election in 1993. Mr. Ong chose the red orchid motif for his campaign and subsequently for his official photograph as President. I called it the "President's tie" and presented a tie to all Members of Parliament in 1993. Mr. Ong also used the other colors for other occasions.

President Ong was the founding patron of the Singapore Dance Theater. He asked the NTUC cooperatives to support the SDT  in promoting dance in Singapore. I promoted the SDT performances to the policyholders of NTUC Income and later joined the board of directors, where I served for 12 years.

President Ong was also the patron of the First Singapore Mount Everest Expedition which saw the successful ascent of the first Singapore to the highest peak in the world. NTUC Income was one of the main sponsors of this expedition.

I had the opportunity to know President Ong as a friend during this team as President where he asked for my help in the causes that he promoted. During the last two years of his term, I chaired the President's Charity event to raise funds for charity and to promote the Singapore Dress.

His wife was quite sick but she made a special effort to attend the second charity dinner. She passed away shortly afterwards. I organised 1,000 messages of condolences from Singaporeans, submitted through the internet, and presented the book to President Ong.

President Ong was a man of great talents - in understanding culture and the arts and in connecting with the people. He was willing to speak up for what he believed to be right, and carried out several bold initiatives that left their mark in Singapore.

Tan Kin Lian

1 comment:

yujuan said...

What a great man that Singapore ever had. CNA, look this way, this is what "a good man" should be. Cut out all this unnecessary hype in your current program.
Too much propaganda make us cynical.
CNA, give us citizens a break.

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