EDB's first managing director, who played key role in Jurong industrialisation, dies, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

EDB's first managing director, who played key role in Jurong industrialisation, dies

The first managing director of the Economic Development Board (EDB), Mr Lim Ho Hup, died on Sunday night (Nov 21) at age 92.

He is survived by six children and his wife, who took care of him in his last hours.

Mr Lim, born in Malaysia in 1929, was appointed the managing director of EDB when it was founded in 1961.

Together with then Finance Minister Goh Keng Swee, he succeeded where their predecessors had failed, leading the transformation of Jurong from a crocodile-infested swamp into an industrial town.

To convince local investors who were sceptical about the project, EDB, at the behest of Mr Goh, had to make sure that several factories were opened each week and for each of them to have wide media coverage.

Mr Lim had previously described to the National Heritage Board how he and EDB went about attracting workers to move away from the city centre after 2,000 to 3,000 flats were built in Jurong.

"People said, 'No facilities! No barber!' But the barber says, 'There's nobody!' So we said, 'Okay, rent is free for one year.'

"We did a lot of things. We had these open-air cinemas with all these corrugated sheets and all that. Rent-free. We even got a few boats for people to row on the river. Let the workers row there on Sundays for free."

When he was later seconded to the Ministry of Education (MOE) in 1969, he put his industrial knowledge to good use, setting up and expanding technical institutes that paved the way for the formation of the Institute of Technical Education.

He said in an oral interview in 2002 for the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) that he thought then that Singapore's education system was too geared towards academia.

"There was only one narrow path for your future... We did make sure that technical education was something to aim for and not something that you did when you fail your other examinations."