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Albert Winsemius’s first visit to Singapore 5th Oct 1960

The Dutch economist Dr Albert Winsemius – founding father of the Dutch post-war industrialisation programme – first visited Singapore on 5 October 1960 as the leader of a United Nations Survey Mission team. The team was invited by the Singapore government to conduct a three-month feasibility study of the island’s potential for industrial expansion.[1] Upon Winsemius’ demise in December 1996, then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew recounted in a tribute that Winsemius had “laid [down] two pre-conditions for Singapore’s success: first, to eliminate the communists who made any economic progress impossible; and second, not to remove the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles”.[2]

Winsemius was the unofficial chief economic advisor to the Singapore government from 1960 until 1984, visiting Singapore twice each year.[3] He is credited with recommending an economic merger with Malaya; the industrialisation of Singapore; the building of public housing; the development of the financial sector; and the establishment of Singapore as an air and sea transport hub.[4] Winsemius had also urged the promotion of policies to reassure foreign investors of the pro-business attitudes of the People’s Action Party despite the party’s socialist stance in the 1960s.[5] In addition, Winsemius also  persuaded  Dutch businesses in particular to invest in Singapore.[6]

In 1966, Winsemius was admitted into the Distinguished Service Order.[7] He died of pneumonia in the Netherlands on 4 December 1996.[8] To honour his contributions to the development of Singapore, an Albert Winsemius Professorship was established at the Nanyang Technological University in 1997.[9] A road in the western part of Singapore, Albert Winsemius Lane, was also named after the late Dutch economist in 2009.[10]

1. U.N. men to study industrial potential. (1960, October 5). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Lee, K. Y. (1996, December 10). Singapore is indebted to Winsemius: SM. The Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Winsemius to chart progress of his first 5-year plan. (1971, March 4). The Straits Times, p. 15; New, 10-year plan to reshape economy. (1979, May 24). The Straits Times, p. 1; Lim, R. (1983, September 1). Winsemius to retire as adviser to govt. The Straits Times, p. 1; Winsemius here on last working visit. (1983, December 10). The Straits Times, p. 8; Hsung, B. H. (1984, March 9). Very special farewell for Winsemius. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. A common market will create more jobs. (1963, June 21). The Straits Times, p. 4; Tamboer, K. (1996, September 23). Dr Albert Winsemius - Singapore's economic engineer. The Straits Times, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Winsemius, A. (1984). The dynamics of a developing nation: Singapore (pp. 14–16). Singapore: Unpublished material. Call no.: RSING q330.95957 WIN.
6. Tamboer, K. (1997, September 21). The foreigner who helped Singapore succeed. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Republic of Singapore. Government Gazette Extraordinary. (1966, August 9). National Day Honours 1966 (No. 1916, p. 2787). Singapore: [s.n.]. Call No.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG; Low, M. M. (1985, August 9). Roll of honour. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Albert Winsemius dies of pneumonia. (1996, December 6). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. PM pays tribute to Dr Albert Winsemius. (1996, December 10). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; $4m raised for NTU's Winsemius professorship. (1997, March 19). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Nur Dianah Suhaimi. (2009, October 23). Road to be named after Winsemius. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 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.

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