Hon Sui Sen

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Hon.
Hon Sui Sen
4th Minister for Finance
In office
11 August 1970 – 14 October 1983
Preceded by Goh Keng Swee
Succeeded by Tony Tan Keng Yam
Member of Parliament
for Havelock
In office
8 April 1970 – 14 October 1983
Preceded by Lim Soo Peng
Succeeded by Seat abolished
Majority Walkover
Personal details
Born 16 April 1916
Balik Pulau, Penang, Straits Settlements
Died 14 October 1983(1983-10-14) (aged 67)
Nationality Singaporean
Political party People's Action Party
Spouse(s) Annie Voon See Chin[1]
Children Joan Hon,[2] Elizabeth Hon, Vivien Hon, Brenda Hon
Alma mater St. Xavier's Institution, Raffles College
Religion Catholic

Hon Sui Sen (Chinese: 韩瑞生; pinyin: Hán Ruìshēng; 1916 - 1983) was born in Penang in the British Straits Settlements. He was a politician who served as the Minister of Finance of Singapore till 1983. He was also the chairman of the Economic Development Board and Development Bank of Singapore.

Early life[edit]

A Hakka, he was educated at Saint Xavier's Institution. Hon was top-placed in the 1932 Senior Cambridge Certificate Examination. In 1935, he commenced studies at Raffles College, Singapore, graduating in 1938 with a Class I Diploma in Science.

Civil Service[edit]

After graduation, Hon entered the Straits Settlements Civil Service as a Police Court Magistrate. Following this, he assumed responsibilities as a Deputy Collector of Land Revenue prior to the Japanese occupation of Malaya and Singapore. After the War, Hon remained with the Land Office and by 1957 had become Land Commissioner. In 1960, Hon was attached to the World Bank for an economic management course, where he met Albert Winsemius. Dr. Winsemius led the United Nations Survey Mission to Singapore in late 1960, and was to play a major role in the formulation of Singapore's national economic development strategy.

Economic Development Board[edit]

From 1961-1968, Hon returned to serve as the first Chairman of the Economic Development Board, or EDB, and then from 1968-1970 as Chairman of the Development Bank of Singapore, or DBS.

Singapore Institute of Management[edit]

From 1965 to 1968, he was also a council member of the Singapore Institute of Management. Hon formally retired from the Civil Service in 1965, but his involvement in Singapore's economic development continued unabated.

Development Bank of Singapore & Intraco[edit]

In 1968, he helped to spearhead the formation of the Development Bank of Singapore and Intraco.[3]

In 1970, Hon succeeded Goh Keng Swee as Minister of Finance and served in that capacity for 13 years until 1983. In 1982, Hon was named the Economic Minister of the Year by the Euromoney magazine.

As Chairman of the EDB (founded August 1, 1961), Hon played a key role in the implementation of Singapore's industrialization strategy, with the Jurong Industrial Estate (JIE) as the first major project. Sited on swamplands in the west of Singapore, the JIE soon became the centrepiece of an industrialization program that stretched from garments and toys to petrochemicals and electronics. The first factory in Jurong, the National Iron and Steel Mill, was opened on August 2, 1963. By 1968, there were about 300 factories employing 21,000 people in Jurong. In conjunction with the development of the industrial estate, satellite towns were built in the west of Singapore, transforming the Jurong area into a centre of both industrial and residential development.

During his time with DBS, Hon was a supporter of the establishment of the Asian dollar market and thus played a key role in the development of Singapore's financial services industry.

Subsequently as Finance Minister, he established the Bases Economic Conversion Department to oversee the conversion and commercialization of lands and facilities that had been left behind by the British military following their withdrawal in 1968. Hon also played a major role in the development of Singapore's tourism industry, beginning with the transformation of Pulau Blakang Mati, a previously fortified island off the southern coast of Singapore, into a resort destination under the new appellation of Sentosa Island.[4]


He died of a heart attack, in office as Minister of Finance on October 14, 1983, leaving behind his beloved wife, Annie Hon, and his four daughters (all presently married); Joan (aka Han May), Elizabeth, Vivien, and Brenda.

The National University of Singapore's Business library is named after him.[5] His office is also preserved within the library.


  1. ^ Wong, Tessa (Nov 11, 2012). "Ex-minister Hon Sui Sen's wife dies". The Straits Times. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Joan Hon". National Library Board. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Geroge, Cherian; Chua, Morgan (2008). My Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions. p. 73. ISBN 978-981-261-614-2. 
  4. ^ "Hon Sui Sen". National Library Board. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "About Hon Sui Sen Memorial Library". National University of Singapore. Retrieved 8 January 2015.