Stories of Singapore's major businesses told in new book

Professor Arnoud De Meyer (right), SMU president, presenting a copy of the book to Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Minister of State for National Development and Defence, and Mayor, South East District, last Friday.
Professor Arnoud De Meyer (right), SMU president, presenting a copy of the book to Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Minister of State for National Development and Defence, and Mayor, South East District, last Friday.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

The first phone call to Singapore was connected in 1879 by a company called the Oriental Telephone and Electric Company. More than 130 years later, it is now a household name here - Singtel.

This and other stories of the big brands and organisations that have helped build Singapore - including DBS Bank, Keppel Corporation and Singapore Airlines - take centre stage in a new coffee table book launched by the Singapore Management University (SMU) last Friday.

Titled Singapore At 50: The Business Of Nation Building, the 300- page book chronicles the milestones of 17 major companies and industries during the country's first five decades of independence.

PSA's story takes readers back to the early days of Singapore as a free port to the company's successful efforts in turning Singapore into a global shipping hub.

The book traces the history of KK Women's and Children's Hospital, noting its establishment as the Fifth General Hospital in 1858, and its world record-breaking year in 1966 when it saw 39,835 births - the most for a single maternity facility.

"The organisations featured in the book were selected to showcase the transformation of Singapore over the past 50 years... to a First World nation, the pride of Asia," said Professor Philip Zerrillo, SMU's Dean of Postgraduate Professional Programmes and executive director of the Centre of Management Practice (CMP), which published the book written by its members and SMU faculty.

He said the idea for the book came up two years ago as his CMP team wanted to mark Singapore's Golden Jubilee and SMU's 15th anniversary. "We wanted to present something timeless and valuable that future generations, and the rest of the world, could learn from the Singaporean story."

The book is available at $69 at Kinokuniya, SMU Shop, Booklink SMU, Select Books (e-store), and NUS Co-operative bookstore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2015, with the headline 'Stories of Singapore's major businesses told in new book'. Print Edition | Subscribe