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One tough guy: Mr Lim Siong Guan

Here is a good piece on the Group President of Singapore GIC, Mr Lim Siong Guan. Its a story of frugality, national service and leadership.

[Lim Siong Guan: Superman, Yoda, change crusader]

  • The group president of GIC takes a train to Raffles Place, then walk 20 minutes to Robinson Road as a form of exercise
  • Personal errand is carried out individually and not asked of the secretary
  • Does not book a single hotel room, sleeps on the plane, refuses a corporate limo and insist public transport

I wish him all the best in his HONOR endeavour. If there is one thing we really need, it is a massive refinement in some important character traits lost:

“The value of the past is to extract that which is critical that has brought us success, and to make sure that we don’t lose it as we think about the future.

“Every time people visit Singapore, we show them our Housing Board flats, CPF, education system, we talk about our strong leadership and political will – all of which are important. But if I were to ask myself, so what is the brand image of Singapore? What made us succeed? What is the defining characteristic of Singapore?

“It is trustworthiness. That’s why corporations plonk billions here and are prepared to wait 10 or 20 years to recover their investments. That’s why so many Singaporeans work in China as financial controllers and accountants, jobs which require total integrity and honesty.”

At the same time, he saw the fractious way public debates were being conducted here. So about four months ago, he rounded up a few friends to set up Honour (Singapore) to focus on the practice of honour – honouring our word and each other.

He believes this will help Singapore continue to succeed and stand out among nations. “Otherwise countries, like organisations, after a period of success, may end up with generations who are not aware or conscious about what has brought about that success,” he warns, adding that none of those invited to sit on his board or panel refused.

“If you look at the atlas of the world, Singapore fits within the letter ‘O’ of the name of the country. The reality is no one owes us a living. You matter if you succeed, you don’t matter if you fail.”

The closest thing he’s done to promote honour is introducing the concept of Total Defence in 1984, during his stint as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence.


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