Richard Hu Tse Tau


Richard Hu Tsu Tau (Dr) (b. 30 October 1926–)1 is a former politician who held several key ministerial positions, most notably as the minister for finance. Hu presented 16 budgets to Parliament during his term as finance minister. After retiring from politics in 2001, he has taken up key corporate positions.2

Education and early career
Hu was educated at the Anglo-Chinese School and then the University of California, Berkeley, in the United States. He graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1952, before proceeding to postgraduate studies at the University of Birmingham. After receiving a doctorate in chemical engineering in 1957, Hu lectured at the University of Manchester (1957–60).3


In 1960, Hu returned to Singapore and joined the Shell Group.4 Within a decade, he had risen to become the director of marketing (Shell Singapore) and general manager (West Malaysia). At the 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 at Shell Singapore in 1977.5

Political career
Hu served on the board of the Monetary Authority of Singapore from 1970, and became its managing director in 1983 upon his retirement from Shell.6 In 1983, he also concurrently took on the role of managing director at the Government Investment Corporation, where he had been director since 1981.7


In 1984, he successfully contested as a member of the People’s Action Party at the Kreta Ayer constituency during the general election and became a member of parliament (MP).8 After the election, he was appointed to the cabinet as the minister for trade and industry.9 He was the first MP to be appointed to the cabinet right after winning an election:10 The following year, in May 1985, Hu was appointed the minister for finance (1985–2001) and health (1985–87). He also became chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore that year, a position he held until 1997.11 In addition, Hu also served briefly as the minister for national development (1992–93).12

During his term as finance minister, Singapore took steps towards deregulation and reform of its financial and banking sectors to support the island’s development as a financial centre.13 Among the changes he spearheaded was privatising the previously government-run Post Office Savings Bank and selling it to the Development Bank of Singapore.14

In 1993, Hu introduced the goods and services tax (GST).15 The key reasons for the introduction of the GST, according to Hu, were to reduce the government’s reliance on direct taxation as a revenue source and to broaden the tax base. The GST would also offer the government flexibility in adjusting income tax and corporate tax rates, where lower rates would translate into an economic advantage. Hu was credited for the smooth and gradual implementation of the GST.16

Hu’s term as finance minister generally coincided with periods of prosperity for Singapore, although he had to deal with times of economic uncertainty. In the mid-1980s, Hu steered the economy through a recession and the effects of the Pan-Electric stock market crisis.17

In 1998, the Asian financial crisis hit the region and the government’s response was to issue two off-budget stimulus packages – S$2 billion in June and S$10.5 billion in November – which helped bring about an eventual recovery.18 Hu was also instrumental in drawing up an S$11.3-billion off-budget package in response to another recession in 2001.19

Retirement from politics
After retiring from politics in 2001, Hu continued to serve on the board of GIC and as the chairman of GIC Real Estate Pte Ltd until June 2009.20 He then remained an adviser to the GIC Group executive committee until 2012,21 after which he was appointed the senior adviser to the board of Fraser & Neave in March 2013.22 Between 2004 and 2012, he was also the chairman and independent non-executive director of the CapitaLand board. 23 In addition to his other business-related positions, Hu was chancellor of the Singapore Management University from 2002 to 2010.24

Family25
Wife: Irene Tan Dee Leng



Author
Alvin Chua




References
1. Morais, J. V. (1982). Who’s who in Malaysia, and profiles of Singapore. Kuala Lumpur: Who’s Who Publications, p. 48. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.0595 WWM)
2. Richard Hu to be next CapitaLand chairman. (2004, March 13). The Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Morais, J. V. (1982). Who’s who in Malaysia, and profiles of Singapore. Kuala Lumpur: Who’s Who Publications, p. 48. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.0595 WWM)
4. Morais, J. V. (1982). Who’s who in Malaysia, and profiles of Singapore. Kuala Lumpur: Who’s Who Publications, p. 48. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.0595 WWM)
5. Raj, C. (1981, December 3). Richard Hu to head both MAS and GIC. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Dr Hu is head of Shell in S’pore. (1977, March 11). The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. New managing director for the MAS. (1970, December 27). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Leadership change at MAS expected soon. (1983, June 15). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Raj, C. (1981, December 3). Richard Hu to head both MAS and GIC. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Leadership change at MAS expected soon. (1983, June 15). The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Dr Hu attributes big win to predecessors. (1984, December 23). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Loong, S. Y. (31 December 1984). Who’s who. Singapore Monitor, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Second new MP to step straight into cabinet. (2011, October 5). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
11. Richard Hu to be next CapitaLand chairman. (2004, March 13). The Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Not so good. (2004, April 27). The New Paper, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Low, K. T. (Ed.) (2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006 (3rd ed.). Singapore: Who’s Who Pub, p. 193. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
13. Finance Minister Hu steps down after 16 years.(2001, October 26). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Bills to pave way for POSBank, DBS Bank merger passed. (1998, October 13). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Finance Minister Hu steps down after 16 years. (2001, October 26). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. GST prevents an over-reliance on the direct tax system. (1993, February 10). The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Finance Minister Hu steps down after 16 years. (2001, October 26). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. 1985–1986: The ‘bitter pill’ budgets. (2009, January 17). The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. 1998: The ‘playing safe’ budget. (2009, January 17). The Straits Times, p. 72. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Richardson, M. (2001, October 17). Singapore hands its citizens a stake in recovery. International Herald Tribune. Retrieved from Factiva.
20. Khoo, L. (2009, June 19). Lim Siong Guan, Tony Tan get key roles at GIC. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Additions to GIC board as Hu retires. (2012, November 2). MyPaper. Retrieved from Factiva.
22. Kwok, J. (2013, April 4). Former F&N veteran back to help steer firm. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva; Lim, K. (2013, April 3). F&N appoints Richard Hu as senior adviser to board. The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
23. Richard Hu to be next CapitaLand chairman. (2004, March 13). The Straits Times, p. 35. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Singapore Management University. (2010, August 31). Mr Yong Pung How appointed new chancellor of SMU [Press release]. Retrieved from Singapore Management University website: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1075&context=oh_pressrelease
25. Low, K. T. (Ed.) (2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006 (3rd ed.). Singapore: Who’s Who Pub, p. 193. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)



Further resources
Aggarwal, N. (1990, March 3). Through the years. The Straits Times, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


Aggarwal, N. (2000, March 3). Budget looks toward the future. The Straits Times, p. 76. Retrieved on from NewspaperSG.

A new era nudget for all. (2000, February 26). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved on from NewspaperSG.

Fernandez, W. (2001, September 29). Off-budget goodies or election sweeteners? The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

GST milestones: The road to the white paper. (1993, February 5). The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved on from NewspaperSG.

It’s a people’s budget. (1994, February 24). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved on from NewspaperSG.

Minister addresses main concerns. (1998, March 11). The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



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
Hu, Richard Tse Tau, 1926-
Finance ministers--Singapore--Biography
Personalities
Law and government>>Public administration>>Ministries of state
Personalities>>Biographies

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