Remarks by Chairman, Temasek, S Dhanabalan to Management and Staff

Temasek office, Singapore


MR DHANABALAN: Good afternoon, everybody. It's the first time I got a letter which everybody knew about!

I didn't know what to do when I was sitting down there as the letter was read because I know better than anybody else here, and God knows, that many of the things said are over-statements of what I've done! Honestly, looking back, I find it difficult to identify myself with all the things that were said. I want to thank you for your very, very kind words and makes retirement even more difficult.

As you all heard, I'm retiring at the end of this month. It's been a long process. When I was trying to recollect when we started, we started six years ago, I thought that the right time to retire would be at the age of 70. Then I push it back and I thought finally 75 would be the best time and it was pushed back again to almost 76. I stayed much longer than I expected but I stand here today to say goodbye, at least for now, and I want to thank every one of you for being a part of the team of which I have been a member for 17 years.

Almost all of you here, I think, joined Temasek after I became Chairman, although there are quite a number who were already here when I became Chairman. Seventeen years is a long time in the corporate world. When I look back on my working life we started in 1960 in the Ministry of Finance and then EDB and then DBS and politics and a couple of lost years and then Temasek, I have had many pleasant and unexpected surprises. Temasek's development has been one of my most pleasant surprises.

The performance of an institution like Temasek can always be traced to the quality of the management team and I've been very fortunate and privileged to have had the opportunity to work with a remarkable team for 17 years, both on the board as well as with the management. An institution goes through many phases in its history and in different phases, different types of capabilities and strengths are needed. And after a few years as chairman of Temasek I thought the time had come to make some changes, and one of the most important and life changing, life changing for Temasek, decisions that I took some years after I became chairman was to persuade Ho Ching to come on to the management of Temasek.

To be quite frank, I did not know at that time what I really wanted Temasek to be and I do not know whether Ho Ching had any idea too, but all I knew was that Temasek can be much more than what it had been. From previous experience in other jobs I knew that the key was to get a person who had the creativity, the drive, the energy and the courage to make changes, take the ball, run with it without looking for directions. And to be quite frank, I'm surprised, pleasantly, very pleasantly surprised, at what Ho Ching and the team that she gathered have been able to do.

Yes, I expected a different Temasek, but so different I did not expect it and with all due respect to you, Ho Ching and your team, you have done fantastically you and your team and I want to thank you and record my deep appreciation for giving me the opportunity to be involved with you and your team in the last phase of my working life.

I think it's a privilege and experience which few have had and I count it a great, great blessing that my work in corporate and public life ends on this very high note.

We all know that the world is turbulent, volatile. Things change in ways that we never expected, but what is required in an institution is the ability to anticipate change and seize opportunities. I know that whatever turbulence Temasek goes through in the coming years, and I think there will be, Temasek has what it takes to journey successfully to 2020 and beyond.

Of course I've had also, apart from the management, fantastic support from the board, many of whom have been known to me in other capacities so it is a great privilege and honour and wonderful experience for me to work with them.

I'm very glad that Lim Boon Heng will succeed me in taking Temasek into its next phase. I've known him for many years, we counted that we've known each other for 30 years because we were in politics together, we were in cabinet together. We were both involved, he much more deeply than I, in the union movement and I'm completely confident that he has all the qualities and capabilities and requirements to take Temasek to the next phase.

I think he and I share many values, similar values. Both of us are not given to rich food – haute cuisine – something that we are not very comfortable with and I know that from the way he adapted himself to new situations when he entered unions, the trade union movement, and though Temasek is new to him, he's been here a year now, he's more-than capable of learning very quickly what is required for his responsibility.

I'm very humbled by all the things that have been said and I'm humbled by Boon Heng's request that I continue in some sort of advisory capacity to him. I hope both of us will not get together too often because I've had many farewells in the past that have not been farewells but I think at 76 I'm going to be a little more confident it will be.

That's all I want to say at this time. I want to wish all of you the very best, we’ll keep in touch and I'll follow the fortunes of Temasek very, very closely.

Thank you very much.



¹: Errors and omissions excepted.

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