Mr Lim Kim San laid to rest

  Channel News Asia
July 24, 2006

THE late Mr Lim Kim San, one of Singapore's founding fathers and a former Cabinet Minister who was instrumental for the success of the country's public housing programme, was laid to rest after a funeral service at the Mandai Crematorium on Sunday, Jul 23, morning.

Mr Lim died on Thursday evening at the age of 89.

Keeping to the wishes of Mr Lim's family, the funeral service was a private one.

It was attended by President Sellapan Rama Nathan, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, several Cabinet Ministers and close friends of Mr Lim and his family members and relatives.

Delivering his eulogy during the funeral service, PM Lee noted that a whole generation of Singaporeans have grown up in HDB estates that offer a first-class living environment with modern amenities and facilities for all to enjoy.

And Singapore today has the highest home ownership rate in the world.

"For this, we must thank Mr Lim Kim San who laid the foundations for affordable, quality public housing in Singapore," PM Lee said.

Mr Lim also went on to make many more contributions to the country, including laying the first steps to make Singapore self sufficient for the country's water needs.

PM Lee said: "He (Mr Lim) also initiated the Master Plan for Singapore's water supply, which led to the collection of surface run-offs from unprotected catchments to make ourselves less dependent on Johor water. These were the first steps in a long journey which will enable us to become self sufficient for our water needs."

Mr Lim also helped to select potential PAP Members of Parliament to stand for elections during the interview sessions before the much-known Lim Kim San Committee.

PM Lee said: "One of Mr Lim's gifts was his intuitive knack for judging people, their characters and motivations. He attributed it to his experience in business, which sharpened his instincts about people, but much of it was probably inborn.

"He once said that he could shake a person by the hand and feel completely revolted; and if he looked into the person's record later, he would sure enough find that the man had done something wrong. Because of this uncanny ability, the PAP asked him to help the party scout for talent.

"He chaired the first of two committees which interviewed potential candidates. This became known as the Lim Kim San Committee. I recall appearing before this Committee when I entered politics in 1984. Later, I was privileged to join Mr Lim on the committee and watch how he would probe the candidates, always courteously and never aggressively, and then interpret their responses, both the verbal answers and the body language."

"Singaporeans today mourn the loss of one of our founding fathers, who served his country with pride and honour, and made a difference through his business acumen, practical approach, never-say-die attitude, and keen instincts about people. It will not be easy to find another Lim Kim San. But his life story will inspire future generations of Singaporeans to be as shrewd, resourceful, and committed to our nation as he was," added PM Lee.

Also delivering eulogies at the funeral service were Mr Lim's youngest son Dr Lim Kiat Beng and two grandsons.

From their speeches, it was clear that many of the business acumen and personal values which Mr Lim had gained during his term as a Cabinet Minister had been passed down to his children and to his grandchildren.

For Dr Lim Kiat Beng, the death of his father brought back memories of 1994 when Mr Lim's wife died.

Dr Lim said: "Since then, he has told me that every single day he laments missing his wife and companion of over 55 years. I asked my dad a few months ago what he would say when he meets my mum. And he said, 'She will scold me and she will ask me what took you so long'."

Serving the people of Singapore was not the only passion the late Mr Lim Kim San had.

"My dad was an ardent sports fan. His favourite team was Manchester United. He was an ardent golfer. He achieved a handicap of nine in his hey days. He told me that in many a dream he dreamt that he was Tiger Woods," said Dr Lim.

Being an avid golfer, Mr Lim told his five children, 12 grandchildren and five great grandchildren that he wanted some of his ashes scattered on the golf course.

Mr Lim had also demonstrated his action-oriented public life at home too.

"This action orientation, with no thought of danger to himself, actually saved my sister Siew Tin and I when we were young. The two of us had fallen into the sea at Tanjong Rhu. He happened to see through the window that we had fallen and, fully clothed, he dived into the ocean and pulled the two of us up to safety," recalled Dr Lim.

The family had been looking forward to celebrate Mr Lim's 90th birthday with him, come November.

But this year's Chinese New Year was the last celebration for the family to cherish together with Mr Lim Kim San. - CNA/dt/ir