Saturday, October 24, 2015

The runaway who became President


50 stories from my life
The President once ran away from home. This, and other bite-sized episodes are recounted in this book about the life of the 6th President of Singapore - 50 of them to be exact, each in its own chapter. In this book "50 stories from my life", the author, former President Mr S.R Nathan described his life from his childhood till his Presidency. As most former Presidents do, Mr Nathan had written a more detailed account of his life in "An Unexpected Journey: Path to the Presidency". Through 50 stories, Mr Nathan has helped to make the story of his life more accessible to readers young and old who may not be used to, nor have the luxury of time, to plowing through a tome.

Each chapter is no more than 5 pages long and is a wonderful read in between waiting for someone, or riding on the bus or train, or in-between TV commercials. This in no way denigrates the book nor its contents. I found every chapter absorbing as Mr Nathan describe an episode in his life. The most surprising, for me, was the account of him running away from home, and not just for a day or two in a fit of anger only to return soon after. You see, Mr Nathan was accused of stealing, thrown out of school, whence he decided, at the age of 16, to run away. That was just before the Japanese invaded Malaya. Malaya was still a British colony. You don't need a passport to travel from Singapore town/state to another state in Malaya. Mr Nathan ran away from Singapore to Muar, Johor, where he grew up as a child. Soon the Japanese occupied Malaya. How did such a runaway teenager live through the war years, become a Seaman's Welfare Officer and thence to the newly independent Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he served as Ambassador to Malaysia and later, to the US, all before he became the President of Singapore?

Pick up this book for the fascinating accounts.

Postscript: Former President, S.R. Nathan passed away on 22 August 2016 the Singapore General Hospital, with family and friends present. Mr Nathan was 92 years old. Rest in peace, Mr Nathan. A nation is grateful for your years of dedicated service to Singapore.

1 comment:

Epilogos Blogger said...

Singapore mourns today. Former President, S.R. Nathan passed away last evening at the Singapore General Hospital, with family and friends present. Rest in peace, Mr Nathan. A nation is grateful to you for your years of dedicated service in the interest of Singapore.