Former Singapore President dead at 92

Singaporean leader S R Nathan meets then-Australian Prime Minister John Howard in Canberra in 2005.

Story highlights

  • S R Nathan's presidency was the longest in Singapore's history
  • "He was a true son of Singapore," Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says

(CNN)Former Singaporean President S R Nathan died Monday at the age of 92, according to a statement from the country's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

Three weeks ago, Nathan had suffered a stroke, Lee said. According to Reuters, the stroke was his second in recent years, with the latest having placed him in critical condition.
    Nathan, who held office from 1999 to 2011, was the longest-serving president of Singapore, according to Lee. The Prime Minister described Nathan as a "warm and approachable" leader who "impressed visitors with his knowledge of world affairs, and served with dignity and distinction."
    "He was a true son of Singapore," Lee added.
    Born in 1924, Nathan was raised in Muar, Malaysia, before moving with his family to Singapore. He worked for the Japanese during World War II as a translator and later a civilian police official. After the war ended, he climbed through Singapore's bureaucratic ranks, holding a number of roles in security and foreign affairs, and was an ambassador to the United States.
    In a statement, current Singaporean President Tony Tan praised Nathan for establishing the Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies, an influential think tank in Southeast Asia, and the President's Challenge, an annual philanthropic campaign.
    In 2009, Nathan signed off on the unprecedented use of $4.9 billion from Singapore's national reserves to curb the effects of the Great Recession. As the economy recovered, he decided not to seek a third presidential term.
    After his presidency, Nathan went on to hold several academic appointments, launched an educational fund to assist disadvantaged students and published two memoirs as well as a children's book.
    Three years ago, Nathan was the recipient of the Order of Temasek, one of Singapore's most prestigious awards.
    A state funeral service will be held Friday at the University Cultural Centre, according to Lee's office.