Richard Hu Tse Tau


Richard Hu Tse Tau (Dr) (b. 20 October 1926 - ), was a former Minister for Finance and corporate leader. Hu presented 16 Budgets to Singapore's Parliament during his term as Finance Minister (1985-2001).

Education and Early Career
Hu was educated at the Anglo-Chinese School and then at the University of California, Berkeley. He graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1952, before proceeding to post-graduate studies at the University of Birmingham.

After receiving a doctorate in chemical engineering in 1957, Hu lectured for a stint at the University of Manchester (1957-1960).

In 1960, Hu returned home and joined the Shell group of companies. Within a decade, he had risen to become director of marketing (Shell Singapore) and general manager (West Malaysia). At that time, he was the first Asian to be appointed a director in the Shell group.

Hu was then promoted to chairman and chief executive of all Shell companies in Malaysia in 1975, and moved to the same position of Shell Singapore in 1977.

Public Service and Political Career
Since 1973, Hu had been a director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and in 1981, he added a directorship at the Government Investment Corporation (GIC) to his portfolio.

Upon his retirement from Shell in 1983, Hu took on the role of managing director at GIC. The next year, he ran as the People's Action Party representative in the seat of Kreta Ayer in the Singapore general elections and was elected as a Member of Parliament.

Hu was appointed Minister for Trade and Industry after the election, and moved to the Finance Ministry in May 1985. He also became chairman of the MAS that year, a position he held until 1997.

Concurrently with his Finance portfolio, Hu was also Minister for Health (1985-1987) and Minister for National Development (1992-1993).

During his term, Singapore took steps towards deregulation and reform of its financial and banking sectors, to support the island's development as a financial centre. The previously government-run Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) being privatised and sold to the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) was one of these reforms.

As Minister for Finance, Hu also introduced the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 1993. According to Hu, the key reasons for the introduction of the GST were to reduce the government's reliance on direct taxation as a revenue source and to broaden the tax base. The GST would also allow the government flexibility in adjusting income tax and corporate tax rates, where lower rates would translate into an economic advantage.  He was credited for the smooth implementation of the GST, and a gradual approach with saw the tax accepted by Singaporeans.

Hu's term generally coincided with periods of prosperity for Singapore, although he did have to deal with times of economic uncertainty. In the mid-1980s, Hu had to steer the economy through a recession and the effects of the Pan-Electric stock market crisis.

In 1998, the Asian financial crisis hit the region and the governments response was to issue two off-Budget stimulus packages, of S$2 billion in June and S$10.5 billion in November, which helped bring about an eventual recovery.

Just before his retirement in 2001, Hu was instrumental in drawing up an S$11.3 billion off-Budget package in response to another recession.

After his retirement from politics, Hu continued to serve on the board of GIC and as chairman of GIC Real Estate, a position he retired from in June 2009. He has also served as the chairman and non-executive independent director of the CapitaLand group and Fullerton Financial Holdings. 
In the sphere of education, Hu is a chancellor at the Singapore Management University.

Author

Alvin Chua

References

Dr Hu first Asian to head Shell Grp. [Microfilm: NL6516]. (1970, June 23). The Straits Times, p.1.

Dr Richard Hu. Chairman. (n.d.). Retrieved May 11, 2009, from
http://www.fullertonfinancial.com/richard-hu.html

Elections Finance Minister Hu to retire from politics (2001, October 26). Channelnewsasia. Retrieved May 11, 2009, from Factiva database.

Finance Minister Hu steps down after 16 years (2001, October 26). The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

GST prevents an over-reliance on the direct tax system (1993, February 10). The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Hu, R. (2006). In Singapore: The Encyclopedia (p. 242). Singapore: Editions Didier Millet/National Heritage Board.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN -[HIS])

Hu, R. (2006). In Encyclopedia of Singapore (pp. 105, 175). Singapore: Talisman Pub..
(Call no.: RSING 959.57003 COR -[HIS])

Lee, S. S. (2008). The IRAS story: 60 years of tax administration in Singapore, 1948-2008 (p. 54). Singapore: Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 336.20095957 LEE)

Richard Hu to be next CapitaLand chairman (2004, March 13). The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Richard Hu to head both MAS and GIC [Microfilm: NL11415]. (1981, December 3). The Straits Times, p.1.

Singapore fin min Hu to retire after polls (2001, October 25). Reuters. Retrieved May 11, 2009, from Factiva database.

 
Further Readings
Aggarwal, N. (1990, March 3). Through the years. The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Aggarwal, N. (2000, March 3). Budget looks toward the future. The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

A new era Budget for all (2000, February 26). The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

BUDGET DEBATE Minister addresses main concerns (1998, March 11). The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Fernandez, W. (2001, September 29). Off-Budget goodies or election sweeteners?. The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Finance Minister announces generous Budget (2001, February 23). Channelnewsasia. Retrieved May 11, 2009, from Factiva database.

GST milestones: The road to the White Paper (1993, February 5). The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

It's a people's Budget (1994, February 24). The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Keys, L. (1999, March 9). Singapore foreign minister defends more spending in recession. Associated Press Newswires. Retrieved May 11, 2009, from Factiva database.

Liew, W. (1993, February 27). Incentives generous, but implementation is just as important. The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

No grounds for gloom but watch for dark clouds (2001, February 24). The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

1985-1986: The bitter pill Budgets (2009, January 17). The Straits Times. Retrieved May 11, 2009, from Factiva database.

1998: The playing safe Budget (2009, January 17). The Straits Times. Retrieved May 11, 2009, from Factiva database.

2001 and 2003: The blockbuster Budgets (2009, January 17). The Straits Times. Retrieved May 11, 2009, from Factiva database. 




The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to 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>>Biographies
Hu, Richard Tse Tau, 1926-
Finance ministers--Singapore--Biography
Law and government>>Public administration>>Ministries of state

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