Condolence Letter from President Tony Tan Keng Yam on the passing of Mr Maurice Baker

12 July 2017

Dear Barbara,

Mary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of your beloved husband, Mr Maurice Baker.

In his many years of public service, Mr Baker made significant contributions to Singapore, both in academia and in foreign affairs.  A member of Singapore’s first generation of diplomats, Mr Baker helped place Singapore on the world map during our early years of nationhood.  He was Singapore’s first High Commissioner to New Delhi, and built the foundation for the strong bilateral relations which Singapore and India enjoys today.  Mr Baker also served as Ambassador to Nepal and to the Philippines.

During Mr Baker’s long and distinguished diplomatic career, he made particularly significant contributions during his two postings in Kuala Lumpur.  When he was first appointed High Commissioner to Malaysia in 1969, Singapore had just separated from Malaysia and Malaysia was in a state of emergency after the 1969 racial riots.  Amidst the tumultuous times, Mr Baker played a key role in rebuilding Singapore’s ties with Malaysia.  He was resourceful and tapped on his good personal relations with the Malaysian leaders.  Despite the momentous contributions he made in that important chapter of Singapore’s history, Mr Baker remained humble and once described himself as a “novice” in international affairs during that period.

Apart from his contributions as a diplomat, Mr Baker was well respected in academia.  Fulfilling his childhood ambition of becoming a teacher, he taught and headed the English Language and Literature Department of the University of Singapore in the 1970s.  Even today, his students fondly remember his personable nature and wit in the numerous engaging lessons he conducted. Mr Baker was also pro-Chancellor of the National University of Singapore from 1989 to 2000. 

For his outstanding contributions to Singapore, Mr Baker was conferred the Public Service Star in 1967 and the Meritorious Service Medal in 1987.

Singapore benefitted tremendously from Mr Baker’s lifelong contributions to public service.  He was a pioneer and role model to many in the diplomatic circle.  His passing must be a difficult period for you and your family, but I hope you take comfort in knowing that Mr Baker had set a good example for your two sons, including Bernard who is now continuing Mr Baker’s legacy as a respected diplomat.

Please accept our deepest condolences to you and your family on this great loss.

Yours sincerely

TONY TAN KENG YAM