Getting to know: Hon Sui Sen

10 Oct 2019 2 min read

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Top image: Mr Hon Sui Sen (second from left) is one of the pioneers responsible for Singapore’s post-independence economic development.

Singapore owes a great deal to the late Hon Sui Sen, one of the pioneers responsible for Singapore’s post-independence economic development. Mr Hon Sui Sen laid the foundation for Singapore’s national economic development strategies over 44 years, first as a civil servant and then as Finance Minister.

Prior to joining politics, Mr Hon held several roles in civil service and quasi-government organisations. While serving as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance between 1959 to 1961, Mr Hon was heavily involved in the setting up of Economic Development Board (EDB). As EDB’s first chairman, Mr Hon played a crucial role in industrialising Singapore and alleviated the unemployment rate. He spearheaded the development of the Jurong Industrial Estate, which set the stage for Singapore’s rapid industrialisation in the 1960s.

In 1968, he became the Development Bank of Singapore’s (DBS) first chairman and president.

Left: In 1962, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, accompanied by Mr Hon Sui Sen (left in photo), chairman of the Economic Development Board who later became Minister of Finance, inspected the land at Jurong to be developed into Singapore’s first industrial estate. Right: Mr Hon participating in constituency events.

Mr Hon entered politics in 1970 after being persuaded by then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and later served as the member of Parliament for Havelock constituency. He retained the seat in the next three general elections.

In 1970, Mr Hon succeeded Mr Goh Keng Swee as Minister of Finance and served in that capacity till his death in 1983.

Mr Hon also made valuable contributions to Singapore in terms of talent-spotting and nurturing future leaders. Mr Goh Chok Tong, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mr S. Dhanabalan were among those who were nurtured by Mr Hon.