Baey Lian Peck, who chaired various stat boards, dies at 88

Dr Baey Lian Peck, seen here with his wife Daisy at the launch of his book, Serving A New Nation: Baey Lian Peck's Singapore Story, in 2011, left his successful business career to serve the public.
Dr Baey Lian Peck, seen here with his wife Daisy at the launch of his book, Serving A New Nation: Baey Lian Peck's Singapore Story, in 2011, left his successful business career to serve the public.ST FILE PHOTO

Public service stalwart Baey Lian Peck was so meticulous about not spending a single cent of the public's money on himself that he would have his personal assistant track the number of photocopies he made in the office of any personal documents, and pay the organisations accordingly.

Dr Baey, who chaired statutory boards like NTUC Welcome, the predecessor of NTUC FairPrice, and the Singapore Metrication Board, died on Monday night.

He was 88.

At the Singapore Casket yesterday, his family remembered him as an honest man who was passionate about serving the community.

Mr Tan Jian Yuan, 34, the eldest of Dr Baey's 13 grandchildren, said his late grandfather was adamant about not receiving remuneration as he wanted to stay independent.

"He used to say that if he took a salary, that meant he would have to do what others said. But he wanted to be able to say 'no' to people and do things his way," said Mr Tan, who owns an asset management company.

Dr Baey devoted the second half of his working life to the public sector, having achieved success in his own business enterprise by the age of 38, said Mr Henry Baey, 62, the second eldest of Dr Baey's two sons and two daughters.

In his memoir published in 2011, Dr Baey said having done well in his business, he wanted to contribute more to Singapore. He made the commitment to the country just a year earlier, when Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia in 1965.

The outspoken industrialist was friends with leaders like former president Devan Nair, and former finance ministers Lim Kim San and Hon Sui Sen, who entrusted him with the duty of leading statutory boards.

It was Mr Hon who first saw Dr Baey's potential and encouraged the businessman to be active in the civil service, said Dr Baey's widow, Mrs Daisy Baey, 82, at the wake. The couple were married for 63 years.

Mr Baey said his father, who was also former chairman of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises and long-time president of the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana), was one to finish whatever he put his mind to.

Sana executive director Abdul Karim said the outfit became "the household name against drug abuse" under Dr Baey's leadership from 1977 to 1996.

Dr Baey's robust stewardship extended to his own life.

Mr Tan recalled his grandfather as a humble and thrifty man who would repair his own shoes.

Said Mr Tan: "He was really one in a million."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2019, with the headline 'Baey Lian Peck, who chaired various stat boards, dies at 88'. Print Edition | Subscribe