Updated: 12/06/2013 20:44

Mandela was a wise leader and a great human being: ESM Goh

Mandela was a wise leader and a great human being: ESM Goh

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has paid tribute to the late South African President Nelson Mandela, saying he was "saddened by the passing of a wise leader and a great human being". 

In a Facebook post from New Delhi, where he is calling on Indian leaders, Mr Goh said he had met Mr Mandela several times, and recalled his good nature. 

Mr Goh said Mr Mandela harboured no rancour, no bitterness. 

He loved people, regardless of their colours. 

Mr Goh added that Mr Mandela always had a smile, a laugh and a twinkle in his eyes. 

Mr Goh said he would be sending a formal letter of condolence to Mr Mandela's wife and family upon his return to Singapore on Saturday. 

He recalled their first meeting in 1991 in Harare, Zimbabwe, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting. 

Mr Mandela had just been released from prison then, after spending 27 years in jail, for his opposition to white minority rule in South Africa. 

Mr Goh said as president of the African National Congress, Mr Mandela sought Singapore's help. 

Mr Goh visited him officially in Pretoria soon after Mr Mandela became president. 

Mr Goh sid he took the opportunity to visit Robben Island to see Me Mandela's cell and understand better the conditions which played a part in shaping his character and leadership qualities. 

They met a few more times at the CHOGM and in Singapore.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn