Lee Kuan Yew was astute, had great foresight: Former HDB CEO Liu Thai Ker
POSTED: 24 Mar 2015
SINGAPORE: Former CEO of the Housing and Development Board (HDB), Mr Liu Thai Ker, was among those who paid their respects to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Sri Temasek on Tuesday afternoon (Mar 24). He shared his thoughts about Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his legacy with Channel NewsAsia.
“I think my relationship to Mr Lee is that of grandfather and grandson. As there were other officials, we did not see each other often. But because I worked in the HDB, we would make site inspections together about three or four times a year,” Mr Liu said.
“Mr Lee had a strong interest in public housing, so he would invite me to a meal with him about once a year at the Istana. When we chatted, he would hope that I would consider his instructions. I would consider those which I felt were good, and I would do more research on those which I was not clear of. I would also explain if I felt that his suggestions were unsuitable. He would accept my explanation immediately. I think he was a very rational person,” he added.
Mr Liu recalled a time when he accompanied former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson to walk around in public housing areas.
Said Mr Liu: “He (Mr Wilson) came as Mr Lee’s friend and he said in his view, Harold Wilson’s view, Mr Lee was the most astute reader of the world situation. That takes a lot of hard work, takes a lot of talent and I think this is something I want to take the opportunity to highlight that the fact Singapore is so well run, so well developed, has a lot to do with Mr Lee’s ability to read the world situation and translate it into what Singapore needs to do in order to stay in the fast train to progress.”
Mr Liu also said Mr Lee had a strong interest in sustainability.
“For example, in building trade, there is this thing called OTTV – Overall Thermal Transmission Value. It was raised by him or his Cabinet in the ’70s because when the curtain wall was introduced in Singapore, a lot of sunlight was beating into the interior, raising the temperature in the interior and therefore there was a need to pump in more energy to cool it down.”
“Mr Lee was worried that this would consume too much energy and introduced this concept before the world talked about global warming, before the world talked about low carbon and so on. This is just another vivid example of how far ahead he thought of problems,” Mr Liu added.
Another quality Mr Liu recalled was Mr Lee’s astuteness.
“He was very observant; he would never miss anything. It gave us pressure, but it was also encouraging – he took note of everything we did,” he said.
Mr Liu added that Mr Lee’s foresight was also part of how great he was.
“His greatness was also because he anticipated problems before they were made known to our society. He solved the problem, tackled the problem before anybody ever knew it ever existed. I wanted to emphasise this because sometimes in Singapore we assume that things ought to be like this but actually things turned out better not because it happened naturally. There was very careful, wise intervention to steer problems away from Singapore,” he said.
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