Mr Wee Kok Wah, President of Stamford Tyres, gave the following speech at a dinner at the Pines on 25 Jan 2013 to launch a book on the life of Mr Chua Kim Yeow, who retired last year as Chairman of the company. (Photos courtesy of Stamford Tyres)
Good evening Uncle Kim Yeow, Mr Nathan and friends,
Thank you for coming. This is an especially wonderful evening for all of us.
We are all blessed to be connected in one way or another to a wonderful man, Mr Chua Kim Yeow.
His life story is captured in a book which we are gathered here to launch.
It’s a limited-edition book for family and friends. It’s filled with personal memories shared by Mr Chua and by many of us who are here tonight.
I have known Mr Chua since I married Dawn, whose mother’s cousin is Mrs Chua.
In the late 80s, Mr Chua had just retired as executive chairman of POSB when my wife and I approached him with a request to be our company chairman.
Stamford Tyres then was a small family-run tyre distribution company with big plans to list on the Stock Exchange of Singapore.
When he agreed after much consideration and a little persuasion by Mrs Chua, we were delighted. Our company’s stature and credibility were immensely boosted by Mr Chua being our chairman.
Over the years, you can imagine what a comforting and credible figure he has proved to be to the many business associates we work with – especially to the bankers we relied on for working capital.
He contributed much to Stamford Tyres with his wise counsel. Among other things, he made sure that a steady stream of dividends was paid to shareholders every year.
In 1993, there was Singapore's presidential election.
Mr Chua was called upon to do his duty for the nation. I was put up as his proposer as many others had turned him down.
None other than Mr Lee Kuan Yew gave his approval as I was only a tyre dealer and a political “non-factor” -- I was acceptable.
The Stamford Tyres staff rallied behind Mr Chua during the nomination day and I made it to the front page of The Straits Times, standing between Mr Ong Teng Cheong and Mr Chua.
He secured 41.3% of the votes as an unknown civil servant and without canvassing.
You would be familiar with some aspects of Mr Chua’s illustrious career.
But you will still discover many interesting details in the book about his achievements at the top echelons, including his being Singapore’s Accountant General.
As for his personal and family life, there are even aspects that I didn’t know of until I read the book.
Uncle Kim Yeow..... Considering everything – your career, your family and your friends – you have a wonderful and blessed life. I believe you will soon be a great grandfather. Congratulations!
As you retire as our Chairman but stay on as our Senior Advisor, we at Stamford Tyres have commissioned this book as a gift to you and your family.
You have shared with us your time, wisdom, experience and stature for the past 22 years. That’s far longer than you have served previously as Executive Chairman of POSB, or President of DBS, or Chairman of the Stock Exchange of Singapore.
The story of your incredible life journey from very humble roots, and your contributions to Singapore will also serve as an inspiration to future generations of Singaporeans.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in applauding Mr Chua.