Date: 6 December 2013
H.E. HF Ngubeni
High Commissioner of South Africa in Singapore
15th Floor, Odeon Towers
331 North Bridge Road
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918 – 2013)
Members of Function 8 are deeply saddened at the passing of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Throughout his life, Mandela fought against injustice. He fought against apartheid in South Africa and spent 27 years in prison. He was a symbol of the struggle for justice, equality and human dignity around the world and inspired many young people who protested and called for his freedom. Released from prison on 11 February 1990, he gave a speech in Cape Town declaring his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the white minority, but made it clear that the ANC’s armed struggle was not over, and would continue as “a purely defensive action against the violence of apartheid.”
Mandela accepted the presidency in 1994 and worked towards reconciliation of his people and economic progress in South Africa. Instead of embarking on a witch hunt of the perpetrators of atrocities committed during the apartheid era, he initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and appointed Archbishop Desmond Tutu as commissioner, a first in the world. He did not seek a renewal of his presidency in 1999, choosing instead to live as a private citizen while remaining active in the social arena.
Mandela is a legend and is an inspiration to all of us at Function 8. We continue to draw strength and courage from his struggles for a just society.
Mandela’s greatness will always be remembered. During his presidency he came to Singapore in 1997 at the invitation of ISEAS, and gave a lecture at Shangrila Hotel. The late opposition leader, Mr JB Jeyaretnam raised a question as a member of the audience during the Q & A. When the lecture ended, Mandela walked towards Jeyaretnam and spoke with him. That was a great gesture which showed Mandela’s humanity and humility.
We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Nelson Mandela, President Jacob Zuma and the people of South Africa.
Teo Soh Lung Chan Wai Han Yap Hon Ngian