Top honours for DBS chairman Peter Seah Lim Huat in this year's National Day awards

DBS chairman Peter Seah Lim Huat has been awarded the Order of Nila Utama (With Distinction).
DBS chairman Peter Seah Lim Huat has been awarded the Order of Nila Utama (With Distinction).PHOTO: DBS BANK

SINGAPORE - DBS chairman Peter Seah Lim Huat has been awarded the Order of Nila Utama (With Distinction) - one of Singapore's top national honours - for taking Singapore's healthcare, finance, aviation, tripartism and education to greater heights.

The chairman of the National Wages Council (NWC), Singapore Airlines (SIA), and Lasalle College of the Arts, Mr Seah was appointed as a member of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) in January.

He was a banker for 33 years before retiring as vice chairman and CEO of the former Overseas Union Bank in 2001, and was also former chairman of Singapore Health Services (SingHealth).

Mr Seah, 74, is the only recipient of the award this year. He was awarded the Public Service Star in 1999, and the Distinguished Service Order in 2012.

"I am deeply honoured to receive this award. My family and I have benefited from Singapore's success and have always felt that it is both my duty - and a privilege - to give back to the country by helping to build a better Singapore, not just for today but also for generations to come," he said.

The citation of his award said that under Mr Seah's leadership since 2015, the NWC has strengthened the call for productivity-driven wage growth, flexible wage structures, and uplifting of lower-wage workers.

"Mr Seah also led the NWC to provide swift and vital guidance to employers to sustain businesses and save jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic," it added.

Of his role in NWC, Mr Seah said that addressing the challenges of looking after low income earners, supporting policies to rejuvenate the workforce for a future-ready economy, and getting tripartite partners to agree on policies that best help the economy had been "most rewarding".

"During these uncertain times, with the pandemic affecting the economy, unity is strength."

He said he was fortunate to work with a team of highly dedicated healthcare professionals at SingHealth. It was also "extremely satisfying" to see DBS doing Singapore proud, by being named Best Bank in the World for three consecutive years.

He added that before Covid-19 struck, SIA had been chalking up record revenues and passenger loads, while transforming itself into a more digitally-driven organisation with a broader range of services.

"As we all know, (Covid-19) brought the aviation business to a halt. Nevertheless, the SIA team has been relentless in continuing their journey of transformation with the vision to emerge stronger from the pandemic," he added.

"Full credit for the contributions of all these organisations belong to the people who believed and implemented the strategies and policies. My award belongs to them."

A total of 5,710 individuals, including public servants, community and grassroots leaders and educators, will receive National Day honours this year. Each year, the awards recognise individuals for their contributions to Singapore.

Mr Seah joins a small group of individuals who have been conferred the Order of Nila Utama.

The others include CPA chairman and veteran civil servant Eddie Teo, former Singapore National Employers Federation president Stephen Lee Ching Yen, and Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh.

Two veteran public service officers were awarded the next highest award this year, the Distinguished Service Order.

They are National Parks Board chairman Benny Lim, and Public Transport Council (PTC) chairman Richard Magnus.

Mr Lim, 64, was formerly permanent secretary of the Ministry of National Development, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Prime Minister's Office and for National Security and Intelligence Coordination.


National Parks Board chairman Benny Lim in a file photo from 2018. PHOTO: NPARKS

He spent 37 years in public service before being appointed to NParks in August 2018, where he advocates greater public engagement and development of technology and science, including animal disease bio-surveillance and animal behaviour.

The citation of his award said that at MHA, Mr Lim established the Home Team Academy and was instrumental in developing Singapore's counter-terrorism programmes, such as the Religious Rehabilitation Group and Community Engagement Programme, the precursor to the SGSecure movement.

"He worked tirelessly with community leaders and actively supported inter-faith initiatives. His efforts enhanced Singapore's national security capabilities and societal resilience in a post-9/11 world," it added.

Mr Lim told The Straits Times that he is "deeply appreciative" of this honour, and mindful that it recognises the cumulative and collaborative work of many hands, over many years.

"I am thankful for the various opportunities to serve and to be able to make the journey in these endeavours in the company of partners and colleagues, whose support I remain ever grateful," he said.

Mr Magnus, 76, retired as Senior District Judge in 2008 after 40 years in the legal service, and was the first chairman of the Casino Regulatory Authority.


Mr Richard Magnus in a photo from 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

The citation of his award notes that he chaired the Committee of Inquiry on the 2018 SingHealth cyberattack, and made recommendations to strengthen the healthcare sector's resilience against such attacks.

He is a member of the National Council of Churches of Singapore, the founding chairman of Temasek Foundation Cares, and deputy chairman of Temasek Foundation. He also served 11 years as a member of the Public Service Commission.

Said Mr Magnus: "Many have walked this journey with me. I appreciate their brilliant partnership. For the public service, community groups, corporate stakeholders and the many individuals who have given me opportunities and unstinting support - I am grateful. This award is for God, country and my loving family."

A full list of the 2021 National Day Award recipients is available at the Prime Minister's Office website.