Speech by Lim Boon Heng, Chairman of Temasek, at the Temasek 39th Anniversary Dinner

Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Singapore

Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Dhana, Members of the Cabinet,
Distinguished Guests, Friends of Temasek one and all.

On behalf of my fellow Board Directors, and all the management and staff of Temasek, thank you for joining us for this occasion, as we celebrate our 39th anniversary.
Tonight is also a night where we bid a fond farewell, and say thank you,
to a man who has, himself, helped define Temasek for 17 years.

PM and DPM have shared some of their thoughts and stories on Dhana’s leadership, his contribution to Singapore, and to Temasek.

Indulge me a little as I join them in recognising one of Singapore’s outstanding leaders.

Tribute to Dhana
In business, in politics, in the community, Dhana has set the highest standards. He has lived by them all his life. He has earned the right to bid farewell, proud of his achievements and deserving of his praise.

I know he is a modest man, and he does point to the work of others who’ve helped shape Temasek to be what it is today.

On behalf of the many here, who deservedly share in his success, we simply want to say to Dhana that what was done could not have been done without your leadership, your courage and your commitment.

I have known Dhana for over 30 years, from when I first entered politics in 1980. He entered one term before me, in 1976.

I saw him in Parliament – from the backbenches at first, and later, I worked with him as his deputy in the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

I remember he retired back then too as PM has earlier mentioned. When we look back on his career in public service and in business, there’s only one thing he’s failed at – retiring!

Well, I am sure this time, Dhana,  you will succeed. It is well-deserved.

As the Chairman of Temasek for 17 years, Dhana has played a key role in shaping our values and ethos as an active investor and shareholder,
a forward looking institution and a trusted steward.

Many of us here know Dhana as a person with very humble and simple needs.

He's one who spends carefully and frowns on excesses – not just his own money but also the money of the institution he represents – whether public or private. That helped set the tone for us and hopefully some of this is hard-wired.

Anyone who talks to Dhana on different issues will know that this has been an abiding mission of his – to ensure the future of Singapore and Singaporeans as DPM Thaman mentioned in his speech.

Many of you here tonight represent companies in the Temasek portfolio.
You have also seen Dhana’s commitment – especially to robust principles and standards of corporate governance.

He knows the issues from both sides; from the portfolio company as well as from Temasek as owner. He’s got an objective and balanced approach to what the relationship ought to be.

On behalf of all of us here, thank you, Dhana.

Temasek Going Forward
Some may ask, how will Temasek evolve going forward?‎

Temasek is what it is, and where it is, because of the hard work and determination of many generations of Board, management and staff.
They each brought with them their commitment, ideas and drive,
doing their best to build for the future.
The roots of Temasek are founded on an abiding philosophy which
emphasises three ideas:

First, the long term over the short term;

Second, the larger institutional good over the individual interest; and

Third, the habit of always thinking and building for future generations –
of doing things today with tomorrow clearly on our minds.

Thanking Pioneers of Temasek
These core principles will continue to guide us, as they have guided the previous generations of Board, management and staff of Temasek.

‎A number of you here in this room have been part of the Temasek journey - you oversaw the growth and development of Temasek in our pioneering years.

On behalf of those of us in Temasek today, I thank you and the pioneers of Temasek for the strong foundation we have in Temasek today.

Thanking TPC Boards, Management and Staff
We are entering a phase of huge changes in the global environment.

Technology, globalisation, and the shifts in the global balances between savers and spenders, between borrower nations and creditor nations – these will shape global developments, and impact Singapore and Temasek.

Temasek has been fortunate. We have a portfolio of good companies.

The boards, managements and staff of our Temasek portfolio companies, especially our Singapore companies, share the ethos of always thinking of
the larger good, and always working to build for the long term.

Be they the crew on board the SIA planes serving the passengers,
or the crane operators lifting cargo containers at PSA,
or the staff at Singapore Power doing their part to make sure we keep
the lights on in Singapore –

The staff in our Singapore portfolio companies have always put in their best effort, working hard and working smart. They form the backbone of Temasek’s success for over more than three decades.

Together with the boards and management, the employees and workers have helped their companies transform into champions, in Singapore, in the region and in the world.

Most of you in the room tonight are leading our companies in Singapore.
How your companies will evolve in the future is in your hands.

That in turn will shape Temasek.

We thank you for your tireless service, your thoughtful leadership
as you lead and shape your respective companies.

Through you, we thank all the boards, management and staff of our Temasek Portfolio Companies, as you take on the future.


Thanking our Shareholder
Another reason Temasek has been fortunate:
We have a far sighted and understanding shareholder.

They share the same passion to build for the current and future generations.

They share the ideals of integrity, meritocracy and excellence.

More importantly, they understand and abide by the discipline of good governance.

They understand that making long term investment invariably means taking risks – they understand and are prepared to accept the volatility of a portfolio like we have in Temasek where we accept short term volatility,
in expectation of better returns over the long term.

Furthermore, the exemplary reputation and integrity of the Singapore Government is an asset for Temasek as we invest around the world.

Our partners and portfolio companies understand straight away,
without need for much explanation, what we stand for in terms of integrity and good governance.

I wish, on behalf of Temasek and our portfolio companies – especially our Singapore portfolio companies – to record our vote of appreciation for our shareholder.

Thanking Bondholders, Partners and Co-investors
We have had the support of many in our success – our partners and
co-investors, our bondholders, friends and advisors.

We thank them for their confidence, guidance and support over the years.

Thanking our Public Stakeholders
Last but not least, Temasek is fortunate, because of the support from the public and our wider community.

Although we are not a national football team, where the public will cheer
our wins and bemoan our losses, many in Singapore track our performance with keen interest.

They send us tips and suggestions. They take pride in our successes and worry when there is potential trouble.

Their interest has given us impetus to strive always to do better. They reinforce our commitment to build and contribute to the larger good.

To our public stakeholders, we say a big thank you for your interest, suggestions and concern.

We will continue to explore ways to support the growth of great companies,
to deliver sustainable long term results, create good jobs and continue to contribute to the progress of our wider communities.

Temasek Commitment to our Community
Finally, let me say something about our community.

In 2003, Temasek made a decision to set aside part of our returns above
our risk-adjusted hurdle for community causes.

Over the years since our inception, Temasek has contributed over $1.5 billion to our communities.

I have huge admiration for the work done by our non-profit philanthropic organisations. Quietly and diligently, they help those in need and also build capabilities in our communities.

Our staff, too, are active volunteers. They give their time, expertise and ideas. They raise funds for various causes. They support the communities in Singapore and where we have offices around the world.

Temasek is not alone in this support for our communities.

Many Singapore companies, and indeed, multinationals here, do their part.

CapitaLand has started its CapitaLand Hope Foundation to focus on children and their education.

Keppel has started its Keppel Foundation to support community efforts.

Others are supporting their community programmes in various ways.

Companies and businesses are driven by people and built by people. They are the engines which create jobs and opportunities for people. Companies are as much part of our communities as are government, individuals and unions.

Business isn’t just about investments, profits and balance sheets. It’s also about being part of the communities we serve. Being successful in our business helps us to do better in supporting our communities.

This is why Temasek has decided that it is only right to share its success.

We set up the Temasek Foundation, Temasek Cares and other endowments
to support the communities in and outside Singapore. This is our way
to recognise and give back to the society which gave us our success.

Closing Remarks
In closing, I just want to pay a final tribute to a good friend, long-time mentor.

Dhana, as you retire, you leave Temasek a legacy of which you can be very proud. I hope your wish for retirement this time will be fulfilled!

And I know you will make many contributions to the community; that many lives will be touched just as you have touched the lives of many over the past 50 years.

As I told the staff of Temasek two weeks ago, Singapore, Singaporeans and all of us in Temasek are very happy that there is a Dhana!

You have my commitment that Temasek will continue to build on the foundation that you and others before you have laid.


Thank you.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay up to date with our latest news, insights and stories

Select a type of content
    Please select Stories you are interested in.
    Please give us your consent.
    Please confirm that you are not a robot.