Tonight, we held a memorial service to remember one of Singapore’s greatest sons, Encik Othman Wok.
Encik Othman was staunchly committed to the ideal of a multi-racial and multi-religious Singapore. Had he been less steadfast, Singapore might have turned out very differently.
From 1963-1965, Singapore was part of Malaysia. Malay PAP leaders came under intense pressure to abandon multiracialism and choose race over nation. They were abused, threatened, and denounced. UMNO leaders held rallies in Singapore, and made fiery speeches personally targeting Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Encik Othman.
In 1964, racial riots broke out during a procession to mark Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. Encik Othman was there, and witnessed the violence first-hand. But he and his Malay PAP comrades stood firm. They kept the dream of a multi-racial society alive. That is why today we can say with pride, “We, the citizens of Singapore… regardless of race, language or religion.” – LHL (MCI Photo by Chwee)