Ex-Eu Yan Sang chairman Richard Eu Keng Mun dies at 99, hailed for service to society

Dr Richard Eu (centre) surrounded by his children and their spouses on one of his birthdays. PHOTO: THE EU FAMILY

SINGAPORE - A man who valued relationships, a foodie who enjoyed a variety of cuisines, and a generous leader who contributed much to charities and education.

This is how Dr Richard Eu Keng Mun, former chairman of Eu Yan Sang Holdings from 1978 to 1993, was remembered by his family and friends.

The 99-year-old died of old age on Thursday, leaving behind four children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. His wife Diana died more than a decade ago.

Dr Eu's father was Mr Eu Tong Sen, a leading businessman in Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong during the late 19th century and early 20th century.

His grandfather was Mr Eu Kong, who left his home town of Foshan in Guangdong, southern China, to seek his fortune in Malaya. Determined to free tin mine coolies from the clutches of opium and ease their suffering with Chinese medicine and herbs, he set up his first shop in 1879 in Gopeng, Perak, and named it "Yan Sang" which means "caring for mankind" in Chinese.

The Eu Yan Sang legacy was continued by Mr Eu Tong Sen and subsequent generations.

Dr Eu was also vice-chairman of United Overseas Bank from 1980 to 1989, chairman of Community Chest from 1992 to 2000, and founding chairman of the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) from 1964 to 1996.

Mr Richard Eu Yee Ming, 74, chairman of Eu Yan Sang International and his eldest son, said his father was a principled and honest man.

He was also a foodie who loved especially Japanese food and porridge with fried dough fritters from Alexandra market. The Eu family would gather at his residence for weekly Sunday lunch, and celebrate his birthday in Japan every April.

Ms Rineta Bruno Balonsit, the family's helper of more than 20 years, recalled how he offered her $10,000 to rebuild her home in the Philippines when it was destroyed by a typhoon in 2011.

"He valued relationships," the 49-year-old said, adding that she was treated like a family member. "He always asked me if I had eaten, if I had enough food, and if I slept well."

Dr Eu was also active in giving back to society. Instead of wreaths, the family has asked for donations to be made in his name to the SIM People Development Fund and Community Chest, as these are two causes he was passionate about.

Dr Richard Eu Keng Mun (centre) leaves behind four children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. PHOTO: THE EU FAMILY

Ms Euleen Goh, chairman of SIM, told The Straits Times that the donations are a reflection of Dr Eu's steadfast commitment to his social mission in education.

The SIM People Development Fund was set up in 2020 to help Singaporeans realise their career potential through education and skills development initiatives.

Mr Seah Chin Siong, SIM's president and chief executive officer, told ST that for over three decades, Dr Eu worked tirelessly to secure funding and a permanent home for SIM. His business acumen, wide connections, strong social conscience and humility gave SIM a good grounding in standards and quality, he said.

He added: "His pioneering and innovative spirit, as well as gumption in making tough decisions for long-term benefits, has left a cultural legacy that SIM continues to uphold today."

Community Chest wrote on its Facebook on Friday that under Dr Eu's leadership, its annual operating expenditure became fully underwritten by Singapore Pools, enabling all donations to go directly to charities. The Internet CashCard donation system was also introduced to make it more convenient for the public to contribute.

It noted that Dr Eu was "a man with a big heart in serving the community".

He lent his expertise and experience to organisations like the Singapore Cancer Society and Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association, and was conferred the Public Service Medal (1995) and Public Service Star (2000).

In response to ST queries, Eu Yan Sang said it wishes to express its sincere gratitude to Dr Eu for his dedication and service. It would also like to acknowledge the legacy he has left behind, and his significant contributions to Singapore.

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