Ex-Minister Lim Boon Heng shows the way continuing to work despite in his 70s

At a High-Level Forum on the Silver Economy in Helsinki on Tue (9 Jul), it was reported that Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor wants Singaporeans, who are living longer, to help offset the low birth rates by continuing to work longer.

She noted that life expectancy for Singaporeans is getting longer. It was 84.8 years in 2017.

“This brings opportunities for greater labour force participation at older ages, and is important for a country like Singapore where birth rates are relatively low,” she said.

Indeed, even elderly ex-Singapore ministers are showing the way to continue working even though they are already in their 70s. One of them is Lim Boon Heng, 72, who was a Minister in Prime Minister’s Office. He retired from politics in 2011.

Despite his retirement, he chose to continue to work for the nation. He joined Temasek Holding’s as a director in June 2012. In 2013, he became the Chairman of Temasek and has held on the post till today.

In addition, NTUC Enterprise was formed in 2012 after Lim retired from politics. He then became the founding Chairman of NTUC Enterprise. NTUC Enterprise is the overall holding entity for:

  • NTUC FairPrice
  • NTUC First Campus
  • NTUC Income
  • NTUC Foodfare
  • NTUC Health
  • NTUC Kopitiam
  • NTUC LearningHub
  • NTUC Mercatus which owns malls like AMK Hub, Jurong Point, NEX, Thomson Plaza

Lim: Don’t be surprised retirement age goes beyond 70

In an interview in 2017, he told Singaporeans to work as long as they can.

“We should work for as long as we are able to work, and want to work, although we should not expect the same pay,” he said.

“Don’t be surprised that a few years from now, someone else may be talking about a retirement age which is beyond 70.”

“Not many people can look forward to see what life could be… When people reach retirement age, they look at their CPF (Central Provident Fund) savings, bank accounts and commitments, then they… ask if they can afford to retire.”

Some can, and some can even retire earlier, but many would still need to continue to work, he added. Still, regardless of whether a person has financial reasons for working longer, doing so can give him health benefits, more resilience and a sense of purpose, he said.

It certainly is quite admirable that the elderly Lim Boon Heng in his 70s still continues to work, charting directions for Temasek and NTUC, for the “benefits” of Singaporeans.

Oh, how much does Mr Lim earns for his appointment? We do not know.

Earlier in May, Mr Png Eng Huat, Member of Parliament for Hougang asked for the salary of the top-three highest paid position in the Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund entities, GIC and Temasek holdings.

However, Second Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said that the Government keeps an “arms-length relationship” with GIC and Temasek Holdings, and does not get involved in their operational decisions, such as remunerations.