DR Tay Eng Soon had green fingers. He liked to make things grow.
His pre-war conserved house at Blair Road had no garden plot. So he started his own kitchen garden -- upstairs.
He used hydroponics -- growing plants in water without soil. Brinjal and cucumber sprouted in boxes under his loving care.
He started growing vegetables after he had a heart attack last August.
"I started this after the heart problem. I thought: Why not grow something?," he said in an interview with The New Paper in April.
"I'm growing long beans, bittergourd, ladies' fingers. I do a crop of tomatoes, but that's over now. I'm growing brinjal and Japanese cucumber -- all in two boxes."
But why vegetables?
Because he liked them garden-fresh on his dining table.
"When you cook something which you've just harvested, it tastes different from what you buy in the market. Very fresh," he said.
Dr Tay had a garden in his earlier home -- a semi-detached house in Bukit Timah.
He was a family man who liked to come home from work and be with his wife.
"Quite often, we go out for walking exercise before dinner.
"And in the evening, if I have something to do, I will stay down and read, write something."
He attended constituency functions but "I try to keep to a limit", he said. "You can be out every night if you want to. But I avoid that."
"Because of your sensitivity to the sun, do you keep your office blinds down all the time?" The New Paper asked.
"Yes, I keep the blinds down," he said.
"I guess because of my special diet requirements, when I go out for official dinners, I have to avoid the temptation of eating everything presented in the dinner, some of which may not be quite good, especially if it's fatty.
"Suckling pig, for example, that's out. I used to love it, but it's out now. So I have to politely turn some of these dishes down. But, fortunately, in a Chinese dinner you don't have to eat everything. Fish, vegetables are excellent."
The above article was first published in The New Paper (Aug 6, 1993).
Dr Tay, 53, died of acute heart failure at Singapore General Hospital at 12.50 pm on Aug 5, 1993.
He was in hospital since Aug 2 for "fever and swelling of the whole of the right leg", said Prime Minister's Office.
He left behind his wife, Mrs Rosalyn Tay, two daughters Lucy and Su Lian, both of whom were then studying in the United States, and son Robert who was in national service.
Religion: Active in Barker Road Methodist Church.
Earlier illnesses: Dermatomyositis. A rare disease sometimes associated with cancer which weakens muscles and causes skin rash. Heart attack last August.
Education: Anglo-Chinese School. Topper in 1960 Higher School Certificate examinations. Became electrical engineer. Then researcher, university academic.
Politics: Entered at 40 in 1980. Elected MP same year from River Valley. Defeated Francis Seow at Eunos GRC in 1988. Retained seat, 1991.
Office: Appointed Minister of State for Education, 1981; Senior Minister of State, 1988.
Major contributions: Shaping polytechnic education. Setting up Singapore's fourth polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, and the Singapore Open University Degree Programme.
Next: The need for changes.