Teh Cheang Wan

Singapore Infopedia


Teh Cheang Wan (b. 3 March 1928, China–d. 14 December 1986, Singapore) was a trained architect widely known for his contributions to Singapore’s early public housing plans, particularly while he was heading the Housing and Development Board in its early stage and serving as the minister for national development between 1979 to 1986.

Teh’s early education began at Lai Teck School and later Chung Ling High School, Penang. He studied architecture at the University of Sydney in Australia, graduating in 1956.1

Teh’s early career was as an architect at the Public Works Department of New South Wales, Australia. He then moved to the Housing Commission in the same state before expanding his expertise with the Housing Trust in Kuala Lumpur and serving in the Penang City Council. In August 1959, he joined the Singapore Improvement Trust as an architect. He was then promoted to chief architect of the Building Department of HDB, which was formed in October 1959. Later he became the chief executive officer of HDB from 1970 to January 1979. He was also the chairman of Jurong Town Corporation from September 1976 to March 1979. He resigned from his posts to enter politics where he would further contribute to a different aspect of the landscape of Singapore.2

Teh was elected as a member of Parliament for Geylang West constituency in January 1979 and continued to head this constituency until December 1984. He became the minister for national development from 1 February 1979 to 14 December 1986.3

Teh was found dead at his home on 14 December 1986. A commission of inquiry into his death was conducted. On 20 January 1987, the state coroner returned a verdict of suicide due to an overdose of the barbiturate known as Amytal. Teh was being investigated for corruption prior to his death.4

Meritorious Service Medal5

Wife: Luna Teh
Son: Teh Kwan Sek
Daughter: Teh Kwan Geok


Jenny Tien

1. Ministry of Culture, Singapore, Biographical Notes of the President, Prime Minister and Ministers (Singapore: Publicity Division, Ministry of Culture, 1979) (Call no. RCLOS 328.59570922 BIO); Irene Ngoo, “The Late Starter Who Made Good,” Straits Times, 17 August 1983, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Ministry of Culture, Singapore, Biographical Notes of the President, Prime Minister and Ministers.
3. Ministry of Culture, Singapore, Biographical Notes of the President, Prime Minister and Ministers.
4. Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Investions Concerning the Late Mr Teh Cheang Wan (Singapore: Singapore National Printers, 1987). (Call no. RSING 364.132095957 SIN)
5. Ahmad Osman, Leong Weng Kam and Chua Chin Chye, “Teh Dies,” Straits Times, 15 December 1986, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Osman, Leong and Chua, “Teh Dies.” 

The information in this article is valid as at 2018 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


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