Eminent S'pore economist Lim Chong Yah dies at age 91


Zhangxin Zheng | July 09, 2023, 11:39 AM

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Eminent Singapore economist Lim Chong Yah has passed away at the age of 91.

A-Level students who took economics may find his name familiar as he was the author of two significant economic textbooks -- Elements of Economic Theory and Economic Structure and Organisation.

Lim had made lasting impacts on the lives of Singaporeans as the founding chairman of National Wages Council (NWC), having served the role for 30 years.

The NWC is made up of representatives from the government, employers' association and trade unions and they deal with issues related to wages and wage policy.

Between 1973 to 1991, Lim was the president of the Economic Society of Singapore (ESS). He was also a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights (PCMR) for 20 years from 1992 to 2012.

Lim leaves behind two daughters and two sons, The Straits Times reported.

One of his daughters is Lee Suet Fern, the wife of Lee Hsien Yang, who is the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The Lee siblings are the sons of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.

One of Lim's sons, Lim Suet Wun, is former chief executive of the National Healthcare Group.


Several politicians and organisations paid tribute to Lim.

They include Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, who last met Lim at the NWC's 50th anniversary dinner in 2022.

Wong highlighted that Lim had set up NWC "with no precedent to draw from".

He also said the best way to honour Lim is to continue to strengthen the tripartite partnership between employers, unions and the government.

Nanyang Technological University also wrote a post to remember Lim as an eminent economist and educator who had left an "indelible mark" on Singapore.

Lim had generously donated a specially curated selection of books and personal memorabilia to the school's new reading room housed within the Humanities and Social Sciences Library that is named after Lim.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said in his Facebook post that Lim's "concern for the livelihoods and welfare of our lower-wage workers was unceasing".
Member of Parliament for Sengkang GRC Jamus Lim, also an economist and an associate professor, said he admires Lim Chong Yah's work and assigns the late economist's book on Southeast Asian economies in his courses.
Director of Institute of Policy Studies, Janadas Devan, said that Lim played a vital role in Singapore's early years — most especially as founding chairman of the National Wages Council.

He said that "tripartism works so well now in no small part because Prof Lim made it work so well at the founding".

Read more about Lim Chong Yah here:

Top photo from Credence Singapore's YouTube video