Remembering Mr S Rajaratnam:
The Man and His Ideas His Ideals and Visions Biographical Outline Biographical Outline Key Speeches Key Speeches Special Video Features Special Video Features Tributes Tributes


Curly QuotesThroughout his years in public life, Raja would continue to think deeply and speak ardently about Singapore – our values, our future and our relevance to the world. He was an idealist and a visionary. He believed profoundly in a multiracial, multireligious society. The National Pledge which he drafted has helped to shape the nation’s psyche and entrench a core value for Singapore.”

Lee Hsien Loong
Prime Minister


Curly QuotesThroughout the turbulent period leading up to Singapore’s independence, Rajaratnam played a crucial role as comrade, fighter, thinker, preacher, propagandist. He worked tirelessly to forge a new Singapore identity which transcended race and religion, during his years as Singapore’s first Culture Minister, and also later, as the country’s first Foreign Minister after separation from Malaysia. I thought how fortunate we in Singapore are that he came to our shores and made Singapore his home and calling.”

George Yeo
Former Minister for Foreign Affairs


Curly QuotesRaja has done a great deal for the cultural unity of Singapore’s multicultural society. He has also done a great deal to win friends for Singapore. He was a man of ideas and had contributed a great deal to Singapore’s development during the time of nation-building and, after we became independent, through the superb strategy he applied in international relations.”

Lee Khoon Choy
Former Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and
former Senior Minister of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Curly QuotesHis strength was as a thinker and a writer, a man of honour, with great moral courage. He had a way with people, enormous charm, integrity and character. He was self-possessed, had a good strong voice, and won the confidence of those who dealt with him.

I cannot count the thousands of hours we spent together over the years, discussing our doubts, our fears and our hopes. Whatever the outcome of an issue we had to resolve, whether it ended in an advance or a setback, we got to know better each other’s biases and strengths. We learned to complement each other. Most of all we trusted each other. He was the older man, but he had an optimistic streak that was infectious.

Raja’s contribution to Singapore was not in bricks and mortar, or concrete and glass. It was in ideas, sentiments and spirit, captured in words he lovingly typed out. Every day when the pledge is recited in our schools, our children are reminded to live up to our aspirations as Raja expressed them.”

Lee Kuan Yew
Former Prime Minister


Curly QuotesHis most important contribution was as Singapore’s first and longest-serving Foreign Minister. He overcame the initial doubts about the legitimacy of Singapore’s birth. He made Singapore a strong and valued founding member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations. He made many friends for Singapore in all parts of the world. Mr Rajaratnam was a brilliant foreign minister, partly, because of his vast knowledge of history and international politics and partly because he was gifted with brains, eloquence and charm.

He was a cultured man and a gentleman. He was loyal and had a warm and generous heart. He was one of our illustrious founding fathers, the architect of our foreign policy and a wonderful human being.”

Tommy Koh
Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Curly QuotesHe was a fervent democrat, an anti-colonialist, a socialist, a trade unionist, a humanist, a maverick writer. He was also an intellectual with a profound interest in psychology, sociology, and history; an ideas man who loved freedom, equality, social justice, and who abhorred racist ideologies of any kind… but above all, he was a bold visionary.”

Irene Ng
Author of “The Singapore Lion: A Biography of S. Rajaratnam”
and Member of Parliament


Curly QuotesMr Rajaratnam will always be remembered as one of Singapore’s founding fathers, whose tireless and masterful efforts as Singapore’s first Foreign Minister secured for our nation the international recognition and good relations we needed to ensure our survival and security in the tumultuous days when independence was thrust upon us.

Mr Rajaratnam took to the conduct of our foreign policy and the practice of diplomacy in a remarkable way. He skillfully steered our foreign policy with a steady hand and tirelessly worked to enhance Singapore’s prestige among the nations of the world. This he did admirably. His greatest asset, apart from his knowledge and insight, was his boundless energy in nurturing relations with other nations, and his wit and personal charm in making friends for Singapore, or if that fails, to at least neutralise enmity.

Singapore is indeed fortunate to have had an outstanding leader in Mr Rajaratnam stepping forward to serve with passion and distinction, at a crucial time in our Nation’s history.”

S R Nathan
Former President


Curly QuotesAs undergraduate students at the University of Malaya, we read his editorials with great admiration. He put into words what many of us felt and said it so well that those words became key parts of our consciousness. His breadth of reading was immense. He was never content with well-known books but would draw my attention to the work of specialists who have contributed original ideas through careful thinking and scholarship. Rajaratnam also turned his words into results that shaped a new nation – not only to the people in Singapore he wanted to see help build that nation but also to the leaders of other nations and their foreign advisers whose support was vital to Singapore’s survival.”

Wang Gungwu
Chairman, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Board of Trustees