Condolence Letter From President Halimah Yacob on the Passing of Mr Jek Yeun Thong
6 June 2018
Dear Mdm Huang
My husband and I were deeply saddened by the passing of your beloved husband Mr Jek Yeun Thong.
Mr Jek was one of the pioneering leaders of Singapore and made significant contributions to the early days of our nation building. Because of his background in the Chinese media, he was instrumental in helping the Government connect with the Chinese community. He was widely credited as being “crucial” in coaching Mr Lee Kuan Yew in his Chinese speeches. Mr Jek was one of the 10 signatories in the Independence of Singapore Agreement, signed on 9 August 1965.
In those early days of our nation’s independence, Mr Jek was a strong advocate of an emerging Singaporean identity. As the Minister for Labour from 1963 to 1968, he had the foresight of building the foundation in Singapore’s foreign policy of seeking friends with all like-minded countries to facilitate our trade and industrial development. This has remained a cornerstone of Singapore’s economic development till today.
Throughout his long and distinguished career in the public service, Mr Jek also helmed the culture ministry and the science and technology ministry. In the culture ministry where he led for more than a decade, he was pivotal in raising the profile of arts across the different races and languages. Mr Jek was Singapore’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in 1977, and the High Commissioner to Denmark in 1978. He also served in the Joint-Government-University Liaison Committee to reform Nantah, which eventually led to the establishment of the National University of Singapore.
In recognition of his contributions to Singapore, Mr Jek was awarded the Order of Nila Utama (Second Class) in 1990.
I last met Mr Jek in person when Singapore celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2015. I also remember Mr Jek’s seminal speech at the 50th session of the International Labour Organisation Conference in Geneva on 7 June 1966. That was the first time Singapore attended the Conference as a full member, but Mr Jek spoke so passionately about the importance of setting a correct climate of labour relations that it was then when many in the audience started to take notice of this fledging nation.
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.
Please accept our deepest condolences to you and your family during this time of mourning.