Comrade Joseph Francis Conceicao, a former Member of Parliament and diplomat, passed away on 13 August 2019.
He was 95.
The late Mr Conceicao, a former teacher, was the Member of Parliament for Katong between 1968 and 1984. He also served in various parliamentary committees.
Mr Conceicao won his seat in the newly-created Katong constituency, which was uncontested in the 1968 General Elections. The slogan of “Ke arah masyarakat yang lebih adil” or “Towards a more equitable society,” he noted, was the mission statement for his fellow PAP MPs and like many Singapore pioneer leaders, Mr Conceicao responded to the call to serve the nation.
Mr Conceicao was well-liked by his constituents and in his 16 years as MP for Katong, won his seat unopposed, except once – during the 1976 General Election. He faced fellow Eurasian William Cook and won 76 per cent of the votes.
Mr Conceicao – who had the confidence of founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew and former Defence and Finance Minister Dr Goh Keng Swee – began his diplomatic career in 1977 when he was appointed Singapore’s ambassador to the then-Soviet Union. He subsequently served as Ambassador to Indonesia from 1981 to 1986.
Although he retired as an MP in 1984, he continued to serve with distinction as a diplomat. Canberra was his next posting and he served as High Commissioner to Australia till 1990. In 1990 he was again posted to the former Soviet Union as Ambassador. He also held concurrent accreditation to several other countries before retiring from the foreign service in 1994.
Jovial and well-liked, Mr Conceicao pursued his literary interests with vigour, post-retirement. He wrote his autobiography, Flavours of Change: Destiny and Diplomacy, Recollections of a Singapore Ambassador” in 2004 and a few other books. He also spoke several languages including Russian. The Eurasian community and its welfare were his other concerns and he ensured that the less well-off were taken care off.
Mr Conceicao is survived by his wife Mdm Anita and their three children.