Former ISD director Tjong Yik Min dies at age 67

The wake of Mr Tjong Yik Min at Singapore Funeral Parlour on June 1, 2019.
The wake of Mr Tjong Yik Min at Singapore Funeral Parlour on June 1, 2019.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Former Internal Security Department director Tjong Yik Min, who also served as group president and director of Singapore Press Holdings, died on May 31, 2019.
Former Internal Security Department director Tjong Yik Min, who also served as group president and director of Singapore Press Holdings, died on May 31, 2019.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/TJONG YIK MIN
Former Internal Security Department director Tjong Yik Min, who also served as group president and director of Singapore Press Holdings, died on May 31, 2019.
Former Internal Security Department director Tjong Yik Min, who also served as group president and director of Singapore Press Holdings, died on May 31, 2019.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Former Internal Security Department director Tjong Yik Min, who also served as group president and director of Singapore Press Holdings, died on May 31, 2019.
Former Internal Security Department director Tjong Yik Min, who also served as group president and director of Singapore Press Holdings, died on May 31, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE
Former Internal Security Department director Tjong Yik Min, who also served as group president and director of Singapore Press Holdings, died on May 31, 2019.
Former Internal Security Department director Tjong Yik Min, who also served as group president and director of Singapore Press Holdings, died on May 31, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Former Internal Security Department (ISD) director Tjong Yik Min has died at the age of 67.

Mr Tjong, who also served as group president and director of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), died on Friday (May 31) at 9pm, a statement from his family said.

The statement from his family on Saturday said: "With our heaviest heart, we are saddened to inform you that Yik Min has passed away peacefully last night.

"He would like us to relay his goodbye to you and thank you for being part of his life."

Mr Tjong was the director of ISD from 1986 to 1993, and was later the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Communications from 1993 to 1995.

He retired from public service in 1995.

Speaking to The Straits Times at his wake at Singapore Funeral Parlour, Mr Tjong’s second older sister said he died from pneumonia.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last November and had suffered from heart problems in recent months, said Madam Tjong, 71, who did not want to give her full name. He was hospitalised again a week ago after a second heart attack.

She said several of Mr Tjong’s former colleagues from ISD paid their respects earlier and said they had fond memories of him as a friendly and understanding boss.

Mr Tjong’s classmates from Catholic High and National Junior College remembered him as a serious person who was rather quiet.

“He was more matured compared with his classmates,” said Madam Joyce Lye, co-founder of a local charity. She was his classmate from NJC.

Another former classmate remembered he was fond of singing and they used to sing Chinese folk songs in school.

Wine merchant Don Tay said he got to know Mr Tjong during his time at SPH. Mr Tay had a wine shop at Paragon, a mall owned by SPH.

“We got to know each other as he was a wine lover,” said Mr Tay, 68. “He had always enjoyed finer things in life, such as good wine and good food. He was stern but if you know him well, he was a warm and caring person.”

In a 1996 speech thanking Mr Tjong‘s contributions to public service, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, who was then deputy prime minister, said his work as ISD director was "out of the limelight compared, for instance, with heading a high-profile statutory board".

"However, Yik Min's contributions at ISD were of critical importance, and had a direct bearing on Singapore's continued stability and security," said Dr Tan at the Administrative Service dinner and promotion ceremony in 1996.

After retiring from public service, he joined the private sector.

He took on the role of group president of SPH in 1995, before resigning in 2002.

He then joined food and beverage group Yeo Hiap Seng (YHS) as its president and chief operating officer in 2002.

He became group chief executive of YHS from 2010, and retired in April 2015.

During his tenure, Mr Tjong nurtured the management team through various milestones to grow the markets in Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. In 2012, he also led the group through a successful privatisation of Yeo Hiap Seng (Malaysia) Berhad and streamlined the entire group's operations.

He was also an independent non-executive director of Genting Singapore from 2005 to April this year, and the company's lead independent director from August last year to this April.

He retired from both roles on April 17, 2019.

He was a member of the board of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore from Sept 1, 1997 and was the chairman of the board from Sept 1, 1999 to Aug 31, 2005.

He played a key role in setting the vision and direction for the development of Changi Airport, spearheading major projects such as the construction of Terminal 3 and the upgrading of Terminal 2 and Terminal 1.

Mr Tjong's wake will be held from Saturday to Tuesday at Dahlia Parlour, level 3B.

The funeral will be on Tuesday at 1pm and the cortege will head towards Kong Meng San Temple at 2pm. The cremation will be at 3pm, said the family.

Additional reporting by Chong Koh Ping