We will never forget Mr Rahmat, nor many Pioneers who built Singapore!


mr rahmat

PM Lee Hsien Loong: “We will never forget Mr Rahmat, nor many Pioneers who built Singapore!”

Saya tidak bolehsecukupnya mengucapkan terima kasih kepada semua pegawai-pegawaiyang mengorbankan begitu banyak masa di hujung minggu untuk menemani saya pada semua lawatan,termasuk pemandu ceria Encik Rahmat Yusak. – Encik Lee Kuan Yew


   -> Lee Hsien Loong

If you watched my Rally last night, you will remember my tribute to Mr Rahmat Yusak, who drove Mr Lee Kuan Yew around all the constituencies in a Land Rover in the 1960s.

Mr Rahmat passed away two weeks ago. His son, Mr Zulkifli Rahmat, a senior journalist at Berita Harian, wrote a moving piece about his father in the paper today.

Mr Rahmat made his own contribution to the Singapore story, driving Mr Lee on an exhausting campaign trail, often returning home late at night, with bits of firecrackers in the Land Rover. Like other Pioneers, he believed in Singapore, and worked hard to give his six children a better future. We will never forget him, nor his fellow Pioneers, who have done so much for Singapore. – LHL

Here is an English translation of Mr Zulkifli’s article in Berita Harian : Mr Zulkifli’s tribute to his late father, Mr Rahmat

The original article can be accessed here:  Hidup arwah bapa saya berpandukan etika tinggi

An extract of my speech can be viewed here :


My late father’s life was guided by a strong sense of ethics

–  By Mohd Zulkifli Rahmat,   August 18, 2014 

In Kampung Chantek Lama, which was also known as Kampung Wayang Satu, a Land Rover was always seen parked at a roadside near my house.

I was excited every time I saw it. As a small child, I waited for a chance to get a ride on the Land Rover, even for a short trip. This was because we could not afford a car then.

The Primary Production Department’s Land Rover was driven by my father, Rahmat Yusak, to carry PPD staff to agricultural and livestock farms.

He brought it home whenever he had time for lunch at home. At times, the Land Rover was brought home late at night or early in the morning. Inside it, I saw fragments of fire crackers and garlands.

I was too small to understand what all these things were about. My father did not tell much about his work.

It was when I was older that I came to know that the Land Rover with bits of fire crackers and garlands was used in the election campaigns of the Prime Minister at that time.

I was then that I realised that my father was the driver of a very eminent figure – Mr Lee Kuan Yew. In spite of that, my father never boasted about his work.

He also did not tell everybody about it. Throughout his service, he did not share personal matters which I am certain he knew about. If he did at all, it was only to express his gratitude at the good treatment he received from Mr Lee and his late wife, and how they were always concerned about his well-being.

Also fresh in my father’s memory was when our present Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, when he was small, accompanied Mr Lee Kuan Yew in the Land Rover during election campaigns.

When his father spoke to voters, Mr Lee Hsien Loong usually sat decorously next to my father in the Land Rover.

Although he did not vaunt about his job, my father was proud of his work and was conscientious in his task.

The pride was seen in the utmost care he took in keeping old photographs and documents.

Among the materials that I came across in my father’s safekeeping are: appointment letter as an employee of PPD, invitation cards, investiture programme book when he was awarded a medal by Tun Yusof Ishak in 1964, a number of invitation cards to receptions at Sri Temasek at the Istana, letter of appreciation by the Ministry of Defence for his outstanding service as chauffeur for distinguished guests during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Singapore in 1971, and a Hari Raya card and personal letters from Mr Lee  Kuan Yew in 1998.

By working as a driver, my father, together with my mother, Mdm Tafilah Said, raised his six children.

He did not have a formal education but wanted his children to study as high as possible.

When I failed to get a scholarship and refused to study at the university because I did not want to burden my family, my father, at the age of 62, was willing to bear the cost of my tertiary education for another four years.

He was firm in wanting his children to stay away from undesirable elements. For example, when we moved to a flat at Tanglin Halt in the late 1960s, he was quick to warn us not to mingle with drug addicts at the void deck.

Throughout his career, my father’s work ethics was acknowledged by his colleagues and supervisor. He was said to have almost never taken sick leave.

According to his former colleague, when Minister E.W. Barker needed the services of a driver, he often looked for my father. When he was told that my father had retired, Mr Barker said, “How can Rahmat retire?”

True. After retiring from public service at the age of 60, my father was engaged as a chauffeur by a surgeon for about 10 years.

In his twilight years, he was always active – he chose to lead an independent life and liked to go about without help.

“I don’t want to trouble my children,” he said.

He passed away on 5 August. He was 95 years old.

As a member of the Pioneer Generation, the sacrifices and hard work of my father in successfully building my family, I reckon, have also benefitted society.

He certainly had also contributed to the country’s well-being.

The original article can be accessed here:  Hidup arwah bapa saya berpandukan etika tinggi

mr rahmat2



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