Sim Kee Boon



Sim Kee Boon (b. 5 September 1929, Singapore–d. 9 November 2007, Singapore) had an illustrious career in the civil service and the corporate world.1 Among his many achievements and contributions, he is best remembered for his role in building up the Singapore Changi Airport to become one of the best airports in the world and an icon of Singapore.2

Education
Sim studied at Anglo-Chinese School and then University of Malaya in Singapore.3 He graduated in 1953 with an honours degree in economics and was awarded a departmental fellowship in business administration from the London School of Economics.4

Career
Upon graduation, Sim joined the Singapore civil service as an administrative officer in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry,5 and rose quickly through the ranks. In 1962, he was appointed as acting permanent secretary (national development) and held the same post at the Ministry of Finance the following year.6 In 1966 Sim was promoted to permanent secretary (finance). From 1975 to 1984, he was permanent secretary (communications) and concurrently permanent secretary (finance) from 1983 to 1984.7 Sim was also head of civil service from 1979 to 1984.8


In 1975, Sim was tasked with coordinating the mammoth project of building Changi Airport.9 His involvement in national aviation continued at the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), where he served as chairman from 1984 to 1999 during which he raised the standards of Changi Airport to be among the world’s best.10

At CAAS, Sim was known for his “management by walking” approach which comprised regular inspections and visits to passenger terminals and speaking to airport staff and airline crew.11 He introduced new initiatives to ramp up the airport’s service, such as a shuttle bus service plying between the airport and hotels to alleviate the taxi shortage as well as free local phone calls in the transit area for passengers. Sim also implemented the “12-minute rule”: The first luggage must be ready for collection within 12 minutes after the airplane is berthed.12 After retiring as chairman, Sim continued to serve as an adviser and consultant to CAAS.13

Besides the aviation industry, Sim was also chairman of Keppel Corporation and was given the task of turning the then loss-making Keppel Shipyard around.14 His entry into Keppel Corporation in 1984 as its executive chairman has been hailed as a turning point for the company.15 With Sim at the helm, Keppel was revived after implementing enormous write-offs, staff layoffs and streamlining of core businesses.16 By 1986, Sim had transformed Keppel’s massive S$845-million debt into a S$5.1-million profit.17

In addition to these appointments, Sim also held top posts in other bodies. An avid golfer, he was the founding chairman of the Tanah Merah Country Club.18 From 2004 to 2005, he was chairman of the Singapore Council of Presidential Advisers.19

Death
Sim passed away on 9 November 2007 after a 17-year battle with stomach cancer. He was survived by his wife, Jeanette, five sons and five granddaughters.20

Appointments and positions held
1964–1965 :
Deputy chairman, Tariff Advisory Board of Malaysia21

1968–1974: Chairman and managing director, Intraco Ltd22
1968–1981: Board member, Development Bank of Singapore23
1968–1982: Chairman, Insurance Corporation of Singapore
1968–1987: Chairman, National Grain Elevator Ltd24
1984: Chairman, Tanah Merah Country Club25
1984– 1996: Chairman, Straits Steamship Land Ltd26
1984–1999: Chairman, CAAS
1984–1999: Executive chairman, Keppel Corporation
1988: Board member, Singapore Totalisator Board
1989: Board member, EDB International Direct Investments Advisory Committee;
Japan-Singapore Economic Advisory Group27
1993: Chairman, Singapore-Suzhou Township Development
1997: Member, Council of Presidential Advisers; director, PSA Corporation28
2000–2003: Senior advisor, Keppel Corporation
2000–2007: Board member, Temasek Holdings29
2004–2005: Chairman, Council of Presidential Advisers30
2007: Chairman, Changi Airport Advisory Group31

Awards
1963: Pingat Jasa Gemilang (Meritorious Service Medal and the Malaysia Medal).32
1991: Darjah Utama Bakti Chemerlang (Distinguished Service Order).33




Author

Chan Fook Weng



References
1. Peh, S. H. (2007, November 10). Former civil service head Sim Kee Boon dies at age 78. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Khoo, L. (2007, November 13). Heartfelt tributes to Sim Kee Boon’s legacy. The Business Times, p. 10; Mr Changi dies at 78. (2007, November 10). Today, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Koh, T., et al. (Eds). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 477. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN -[HIS])
4. Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times¸ p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Who’s who in Singapore. (2003). Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 356-357. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WWS).
5. Who’s who in Singapore. (2003). Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 356-357. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WWS); Koh, T., et al. (Eds). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 477. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]).
6. Koh, T., et al. (Eds). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 477. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Koh, T., et al. (Eds). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 477. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
8. Khoo, L. (2007, November 13). Heartfelt tributes to Sim Kee Boon’s legacy. The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times¸ p. 2; Peh, S. H. (2007, November 10). Former civil service head Sim Kee Boon dies at age 78. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Khoo, L. (2007, November 13). Heartfelt tributes to Sim Kee Boon’s legacy. The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2; Peh, S. H. (2007, November 10). Former civil service head Sim Kee Boon dies at age 78. The Straits Times, p. 3; Kaur, K. (2007, November 10). He earned his wings building Changi Airport. The Straits Times, p. 58. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2; Peh, S. H. (2007, November 10). Former civil service head Sim Kee Boon dies at age 78. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Kaur, K. (2007, November 10). He earned his wings building Changi Airport. The Straits Times, p. 58. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Khoo, L. (2007, November 13). Heartfelt tributes to Sim Kee Boon’s legacy. The Business Times, p. 10; Mr Changi dies at 78. (2007, November 10). Today, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2; Khoo, L. (2007, November 13). Heartfelt tributes to Sim Kee Boon’s legacy. The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Mr Changi dies at 78. (2007, November 10). Today, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 477. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN -[HIS])
20. Peh, S. H. (2007, November 10). Former civil service head Sim Kee Boon dies at age 78. The Straits Times, p. 3; Mr Changi dies at 78. (2007, November 10). Today, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Who’s who in Singapore. (2003). Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 356–357. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WWS)
22. Who’s who in Singapore. (2003). Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 356-357. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WWS); Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Who’s who in Singapore. (2003). Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 356–357. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WWS); Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 477. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]
25. Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 477. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN -[HIS])
27. Who’s who in Singapore. (2003). Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 356–357. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WWS)
28. Who’s who in Singapore. (2003). Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 356–357. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WWS); Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Who’s who in Singapore. (2003). Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 356–357. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WWS)
30. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 477. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
31. Mr Changi dies at 78. (2007, November 10). Today, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 477. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 477. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Tee, H. C. (1999, September 12). It was my national service. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Cheong, C. (2006). From ground up: Stories from the CAAS experience. Singapore: Published for Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore by SNP International Pub.
(Call no.: RSING 387.7095957 CHE)

Fernandez, W. (2001). Without fear or favour. Singapore: Times Media, pp. 36–37, 114.
(Call no.: RSING q352.63095957 FER)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Personalities
Law and government>>National development>>Urban development
Law and government>>Public administration
Sim, Kee Boon
Singapore--Officials and employees--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies