PM Lee pays tribute to close colleague & former finance minister Richard Hu

Both entered politics in 1984.

Andrew Koay | September 09, 2023, 06:08 PM



Singapore owes Richard Hu its gratitude for a lifetime of contribution and service to the nation, wrote Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a post on Facebook and Instagram.

Hu, the country's longest-serving finance minister, passed away at the age of 96.

Describing Hu as a "close colleague and friend", PM Lee recounted how they'd both entered politics in 1984 and worked together at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Finance.

"I will always warmly remember his wise counsel, strong sense of stewardship, and deep concern for Singaporeans," said PM Lee.

"Lasting legacy"

The Prime Minister paid tribute to Hu's "lasting legacy in the field of finance" by relating the various posts that the latter held.

At GIC — where Hu served as a board member and chairman — PM Lee noted that Hu had overseen the sovereign wealth fund's foray into the regional real estate market.

Under Hu's leadership at MAS — where he was managing director and later chairman — PM Lee wrote that the regulator "established its credentials for stringent supervision and regulation of the financial sector, and sound monetary policy" while helping to preserve the purchasing power of Singaporean households throughout periods of volatility in the 80s and 90s.

PM Lee also noted that Hu as finance minister had introduced the goods and services tax in 1994.

"This enabled us to lower income and corporate taxes at a time when many other countries were doing the same, challenging our international competitiveness," he wrote.

"It also created a resilient source of revenue which became increasingly important as the government's spending needs grew."

However, Hu did not only launch the new tax, PM Lee continued, but he also introduced "a comprehensive package of support and offset to help businesses and households cope" — a model that Singapore's government had subsequently followed for other assistance packages.

"I offer my deepest condolences to his family in this time of loss and grief. He will be deeply missed," concluded PM Lee.

His full tribute to Hu can be read here:

Top image from National Archives Singapore