Former EDB Chairman Philip Yeo’s latest biography sheds light on leadership pitfalls
A no-holds- barred biography on his contributions to Singapore’s economic growth post-independence
Philip Yeo played a pivotal role in Singapore’s development from Third World to First through his work in the military, economic and biomedical fields.
Known for making things happen at breakneck speed during his four decades in public service, he gained a reputation as an outspoken maverick who nevertheless got things done, from jump-starting industries to talent recruitment. He created Jurong Island for the energy and chemical industry by reclaiming seven islands; started MNC-sponsored EDB scholarships as an ongoing means to replace EDB officers; corralled the best brains of the country into A*star (Agency for Science, Technology and Research); and spearheaded biomedical research by attracting international pharmaceuticals to do their R&D in Singapore. The following edited excerpt from Neither Civil Nor Servant – The Philip Yeo Story sheds light on his leadership style:
- What is the rationale behind your firing-squad approach to managers?
- Who are the eunuchs in the Singapore context?
- What is eunuch disease?
- How did Singapore get to this stage? Is it because as society becomes more developed, it requires a more complex governance structure?
- Is this a result of how talent is recruited?
- How much of this increasing bureaucratisation is seen in Singapore today?
- How does this contrast with the Old Guard leaders?
- Do you think Singapore can remain exceptional?
- How do you think you will be remembered in Singapore?