45 years of MAS on display

The MAS Gallery is an exhibition that showcases the central bank's work and development over the years, and includes a photo wall of past and current MAS chairmen and managing directors.
The MAS Gallery is an exhibition that showcases the central bank's work and development over the years, and includes a photo wall of past and current MAS chairmen and managing directors.ST PHOTO: ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has built credibility in the global financial community and as an organisation punches above its weight, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.

Mr Tharman, who was speaking at the official opening of the MAS Gallery, an exhibition that showcases the central bank's work, noted: "Credibility is the most precious asset that a central bank and financial regulator can have."

Mr Tharman praised staff and pioneers who transformed the organisation and paved the way for Singapore to be a vibrant financial centre, including managing the "tension" between liberalisation of the financial sector and the development of further resilience and stability.

"If you look at what happened during the Asian financial crisis , and subsequently the global financial crisis, we have come out as one of the safest financial systems in the world," noted Mr Tharman, who is also chairman of the MAS and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies.

The opening was attended by more than 100 current and former MAS staff, including ex-managing directors and former chairman Goh Chok Tong.

MAS marks its 45th anniversary this year.

Mr Tharman also cited MAS' move in re-orienting monetary policy in the 1980s to one centred on the Singdollar exchange rate.

"It was not conventional but it has worked," he said, adding that the MAS has built credibility in its monetary policy and also as a "no-nonsense financial regulator".

He added that the MAS "has become an organisation of excellence", owing to its emphasis on organisational and people development.

The public will be able to trace these developments and more at the MAS Gallery at the MAS Building in Shenton Way.

It comprises two sections - one to help visitors understand the central bank's mission and one to showcase its role in supporting the Singapore economy and its financial system.

Through interactive games, visitors can play policymaker and try their hand at adjusting monetary policy settings under different scenarios or learn about saving for retirement.

After touring the gallery yesterday, former MAS managing director J.Y. Pillay, 81, noted that the "spectrum of activities has deepened" at the MAS.

"Historically, we have been concerned with inflation... But right now, it is deflation that could be a problem, and I think MAS will have to look into the bag of tricks to see how (it) can prevent sustained deflation."

Mr Pang Kim Hin, nephew of former MAS managing director Lim Kim San, also lauded efforts of the pioneers in maintaining the stability of the Singdollar through the years.

"You can imagine, if we don't have these people, our currency may be only worth one-third. I think that speaks for itself," Mr Pang said.

Admission to the gallery is free and self-guided.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline '45 years of MAS on display'. Print Edition | Subscribe