NL Prominent Speaker Series: Lim Siong Guan

The National Library regularly host renowned speakers from the arts, heritage, technology and social sciences sectors to share with the wider community and to exchange ideas. Organised by the National Library, this event was held on 19 August 2016. This guide accompanied the talk given by Professor Lim Siong Guan on the topic “Winning in Work and Life”.



The speaker for the topic is  Professor Lim Siong Guan.

Lim Siong Guan has been the Group President of GIC Private Limited since 2007. He was previously the Chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board (2006 ̶ 2009) and the Head of the Singapore Civil Service (1999 ̶ 2005). He co-authored Winning with Honour (2016) and The Leader, The Teacher & You (2014), which won the Singapore Literature Book Prize, with Joanne H. Lim.


These resources are drawn from the collections of the National Library.







  • Lim, S. G., & Lim, J. H. (2014). The leader, the teacher & you: Leadership through the third generation. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.
    Call number: RSING 658.4092 LIM
    Former Head of the Singapore Civil Service Lim Siong Guan shares his diverse experiences and fresh insights on leadership that have contributed to Singapore’s success. Lim introduces innovative policies and practices that have greatly enhanced the drive and performance of employees across the board. He is known for his pursuit of excellence and for spearheading the Public Service for the 21st Century (PS21) movement, which aims to develop organisational excellence.



  • Neo, B. S., & Chen, G. (2007). Dynamic governance: Embedding culture, capabilities and change in Singapore. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.
    Call number: RSING 351.5957 NEO
    This book provides an in-depth look at dynamic governance, the key to success in a world of rapid and increasing globalisation as well as unrelenting technological advancement. If bureaucratic public institutions can evolve and embed the culture and capabilities that enable continuous learning and change, their contributions to a country’s socio-economic progress and prosperity would be enormous. The lessons from their efforts in institutionalising culture, capabilities and change provide meaningful and valuable insights for transforming organisations.


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  • How new leaders can sustain S’pore’s success. (2015, April 6). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
    GIC group president and former civil service head, Lim Siong Guan, spoke on honour, wealth, leadership and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy as keys to Singapore’s success. Singapore’s success in the last 50 years has been the result of human imagination and hard work, as well as the courage to be different and unique. These have been founded on honour, integrity and trust that the people of Singapore will do what is good and right for themselves, their families and their society.


  • Lim, S. G. (1997, February). Sustaining excellence in government: The Singapore experience. Public Administration & Development, 17(1), 167 ̶ 174. Retrieved July 22, 2016, from EBSCOHost business source complete.
    This article describes Public Service for the 21st century, or PS21 ̶ a programme focused on adapting Singapore’s public service to the needs of the 21st century against the backdrop of the country’s recent history such as challenges posed by the island’s small size, sudden independence and multiracial population. The ability to sustain four decades of economic adaptation and public service adjustment is seen to be intimately linked with the goals of governance and the quality of leadership in the Republic.


  • Striking a balance in the workplace.  (2005, July 25). The Business Times Singapore. Retrieved from Factiva.
    Besides the many challenges of modern-day living, other aspects of life such as family, health and friends should not be neglected. This article presents the best practices of work-life balance by chief executive officers from prominent companies such as NCS, IBM and KPMG Singapore.


  • Tang, L. (2016, February 4). Singaporeans must unite to face security threats’. Today. Retrieved from Factiva.
    This article explores the concept of Total Defence as one that is applicable during times of peace. Total Defence encompasses five key aspects — military, civil, economic, social and psychological defence. Tang emphasises that Total Defence starts with families and homes, schools and workplaces and not army camps and fire stations. Thus, Total Defence means that maintaining harmony is essential to tackling the threat to peace and security.


Journal Articles


  • Chuan, C. (2006, October). Being the best that he can be: Interview with Mr Lim Siong Guan. Challenge: Public Service for the 21st Century, 12(9), 14-15.
    Call number: RSING 354.595700147 C
    Former Permanent Secretary Lim Siong Guan shares his insights on leadership, talent development, responsibilities and failures encountered in the public sector.


  • Lim, S.G. (2005, January-March). Is there a new role for government? Ethos, 11(1), 3-9.
    Call number: RSING 354.5957001 E
    Lim Siong Guan argues that the role of the Singapore government in the national building years and in current times has always been to create hope and opportunity for its people. He explains how Singaporeans’ perceptions of hope and opportunity have changed post-independence, prompting the government to find new ways of providing hope and opportunity to Singaporeans. The article discusses how the government can and should go about this to make its new strategic thrust of “Singapore is Opportunity” a renewed reality.


  • Lim, S. G. (2005, April). The first among equals. Challenge: Public Service for the 21st Century, 11(3), 5-8.
    Call number: RSING 354.595700147 C
    An interview with Lim Siong Guan on his career highlights, working principles and common perceptions of the civil service.



  • Singapore. Ministry of Finance. Managing for Excellence Office. (2001, March). Building a foundation for OE: Tools for achieving organisational excellence in the public service. Challenge: Public Service for the 21st Century, 6(13), 4-7.
    Call number: RSING 354.595700147 C
    This article looks at the resources and tools launched by the Managing for Excellence (MFE) Office at the 5th PS21-MFE Forum on Organisational Excellence held on 9 February 2001. It describes the Singapore Quality Award (SQA) online portal, benefits of inter-agency project teams, the Balanced Scorecard and Six Sigma methodologies, and features an extract of the keynote address by Lim Siong Guan, Head of the Civil Service and reports on the innovation framework developed by the PS21 Office.





  • Lim Siong Guan profile. (2013). Singapore: National University of Singapore. Retrieved July 25, 2016, from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy website. 
    The website provides Lim Siong Guan’s profile.



  • Ong, H. T. (2014, October 14). Failure not an option for SAF, S’pore: Lim Siong Guan. Retrieved July 25, 2016, from Mindef website.
    Lim Siong Guan said that the success and survival of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) cannot afford to fail because it is the ultimate guarantor of the nation’s independence and sovereignty. The challenge for the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and SAF is how to communicate to today’s youth the importance of a strong deterrence force to ensure the continued success of Singapore.


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Written by Mervin Teo