Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) chief Lim Chuan Poh is retiring from the public service on April 1, ending months of speculation that he would be stepping down from the top spot of Singapore's largest public-sector research agency.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) announced the 57-year-old's retirement yesterday, just hours after most staff were informed in an internal e-mail that their chairman would be leaving.
Permanent Secretary for Education Chan Lai Fung, 55, will be appointed the agency's non-executive chairman on April 1.
A new chief executive officer will assume A*Star's executive leadership role and responsibilities, MTI said in a statement.
Details of this appointment will be announced "in due course", said the ministry.
Ms Chan has extensive public-sector experience that spanned many different portfolios, which makes her "well-placed to lead A*Star in charting its strategic directions and priorities for future growth and development", said MTI.
Mr Lim has been in the public service for 38 years.
Under his stewardship, A*Star spearheaded mission-oriented research in Singapore. This not only advanced scientific discovery and technological innovation, but also created economic growth and improved the lives of Singaporeans, MTI said.
Mr Lim further led A*Star to play a critical role in Singapore's research innovation and enterprise landscape by working closely with public-sector agencies, research institutes, universities, hospitals and private enterprises, among others.
He oversaw the formation of many long-term strategic partnerships between A*Star and global industry leaders, which led to several state-of-the-art research facilities being set up in Singapore and the creation of good employment opportunities for Singaporeans.
Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said Mr Lim, who was also a former chief of defence force, had served with distinction and made impactful contributions in the military as well as Singapore's science and technology ecosystem.
Mr Chan said: "He helped to evolve the Singapore Armed Forces to the integrated armed forces we have today, and built up A*Star's capability as a leading research organisation.
"I would like to express our appreciation to Chuan Poh for his leadership and outstanding contributions to the public service."
Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry Loh Khum Yean said: "I would like to express MTI's deep appreciation for Chuan Poh's many invaluable contributions. His strong leadership of A*Star has strengthened Singapore's position as a global Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise."
Mr Loh also welcomed Ms Chan into the MTI family. He said: "I am confident that the new leadership team will build on Chuan Poh's excellent work and bring A*Star forward in its next phase of growth."
A*Star, which has about 5,200 employees, is recognised as one of the world's top innovative government science and technology organisations.
Last year, it announced its biggest shake-up to date, with broad changes made to the way the research institutes under its charge would be run, in efforts to make the organisation more nimble in the use of talent and funds.
However, some staff say issues such as red tape and clarity over funding remain.
A*Star declined to comment when approached by The Straits Times.