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Lim Kim San stepping down from SPH post - Oct 19, 2005 (BT)

BackOct 19, 2005

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

Lim Kim San stepping down from SPH post

He's retiring after 14 yrs as exec chairman and 3 yrs as senior adviser.

By Wong Wei Kong
Oct 19, 2005
The Business Times

LIM Kim San is stepping down as senior adviser of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) at the end of the year, after 17 years with the media group.

In a statement yesterday, SPH directors said Mr Lim had expressed his desire to retire in December, after 14 years as executive chairman and the last three years as senior adviser to the group.

Big inspiration: Mr Lim played a crucial role in driving and shaping the group into the successful multi-media company that it is today, said CEO Alan Chan

'Mr Lim is held in the highest regard by the board, and it is with much regret that we accept his decision to retire,' said SPH chairman Lim Chin Beng.

Mr Lim, who turns 89 this year, stepped down as executive chairman in 2002, but agreed to stay on as senior adviser at the request of the board.

He said: 'I wanted to retire as far back as 2001, but after so many years with the company, I could not simply walk away when asked to help SPH contend with the fast and ever-changing landscape in the political, social and technological world. So I stayed on for a little while longer.'

His experience and advice will be missed, said SPH senior executives and editors.

SPH CEO Alan Chan said: 'From the time he was executive chairman and then senior adviser in 2003, Mr Lim has played a crucial role in driving and shaping the group into the successful multi-media company that it is today. Whenever the board was faced with a difficult decision, we could always count on him to provide the right counsel and advice.'

'His guidance on some of SPH's key decisions, including our 5-for-1 share split, the merger of our TV and free newspaper operations and our decision to divest from non-core areas was especially appreciated,' Mr Chan added.

Cheong Yip Seng, editor-in-chief of SPH's English and Malay Newspapers Division, said Mr Lim had been an editor's 'dream' chief executive. 'He had no media background, but very quickly grasped the values that drive a good newspaper. He knew that credibility and integrity underpinned its success.'

Mr Cheong said each time a decision had to be made to reconcile the often conflicting interests of a newspaper's clients, readers, newsmakers and advertisers, Mr Lim's position was unambiguous. 'He always came out on the side of the reader.'

Mohd Guntor Sadali, editor of Berita Harian and Berita Minggu, said that Mr Lim has a very simple philosophy about work. 'He once told me not to lose sleep over staff who have left us no matter how good they were. He told me that if I don't like my job, I should quit. 'It is good for you and for the company.' This simple advice left a permanent imprint in my mind.'

Many of the older staff in the Chinese Newspapers Division still remember Mr Lim for bringing their salaries in line with the pay of journalists from the English newspapers many years ago, said Lianhe Zaobao editor Lim Jim Koon. Looking back on his 17 years with the company, Mr Lim said: 'It has been most satisfying. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to do what I have done for the company, and to have worked with so many talented people through thick and thin.'

He added: 'With the advent of the new media, the future of newspaper publishing looks tough. But we now have a strong corps of new directors and senior executives in place to take on this challenge, and this will be further strengthened with Dr Tony Tan as the chairman-designate of the board. Such self-renewal is vital to the success of the company. I am confident the ship will remain in good hands.'

SPH announced recently that former deputy prime minister Tony Tan, who stepped down from Cabinet in September, will become its new chairman in December. Mr Lim Chin Beng, who is 73 this year, is stepping down after four years with the group. He had earlier indicated his decision not to seek re-election as a director and chairman at the company's AGM on Dec 2.