SINGAPORE: The country’s top leaders paid tribute to Dr Wee Cho Yaw, the former chairman of UOB, who passed away recently at the age of 95.

In announcing his passing, the bank noted that he had been pivotal to UOB’s rise over the years. UOB also noted Dr Wee’s legacy as a firm believer in the importance of education and giving back to the community.

Dr Wee had helmed UOB, now Singapore’s third-largest bank by assets, for over fifty years before retiring in 2013. “UOB assets increased from $2.8 billion to more than $253 billion at the time of his retirement as Chairman in 2013,” it wrote.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote in a Facebook post that he was “deeply saddened” at the death of Dr Wee and offered condolences to his family.

He hailed him as “a titan of Singapore’s banking industry” whose “business acumen and visionary leadership were instrumental in growing UOB into one of the most successful banks in Singapore and the region.”

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PM Lee also wrote that he had known him for four decades and had worked closely with Dr Wee during the Prime Minister’s stint as Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

“I will always warmly remember his passion and energy, and our many conversations across a wide range of issues over the years,” he added.

His second in command, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, similarly penned a tribute over social media, noting that Dr Wee’s “transformative leadership made UOB a regional banking powerhouse.

His vision and ethical standards set a lasting industry benchmark, and his contributions to our financial centre and much more, will be remembered.”

President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, meanwhile, characterised the former UOB chair as “simply unique” and added, “he left us today at age 95, but will never be forgotten” in a Facebook post of his own.

Aside from Dr Wee’s considerable contributions to Singapore’s banking industry, the President also noted how Dr Wee had been committed to the community in general.

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“His almost three-decades-long leadership of the Hokkien Huay Kuan and many years as founding president of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations leave a permanent legacy. Together with his significant contributions to several of our schools,” he wrote.

Dr Woo was honoured not only by prominent leaders but by institutions as well.

The Nanyang Technological University wrote of his “long association with NTU,” and added that he had been instrumental in “gift(ing) $16 million to NTU over the years, in support of education and research advancement, financial assistance to students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as grooming future leaders.”

NTU added that he had been conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University in 2014 for his contributions to the university. /TISG