How Lien courted Lee to helm OUB
Mr Lien, a personal friend of then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, and a born diplomat, served as High Commissioner for 3 years, without salary or expenses, and played a critical role as a bridge between the two governments, whose relationship at that time was less than favourable.
was when he was High Commissioner in
that was how Mr Lien got to know the younger man, who would return to
Mr Lien sized up Mr Lee and knew the latter was the man he wanted to run OUB in the new climate of Singapore, in which foreign banks and finance houses were wooed to its shores. The game had changed, and one could no longer run a small bank the way one did as a family business.
Lee was not keen to join OUB. But what Mr Lien wanted, he made sure he
would get - that was how he succeeded as one of
So he courted Mr Lee at weekly lunches over three years, until the latter was won over.
Mr Yos Kupasrimonkol, the general manager (Establishment & Branches) of OUB at the time, and 85 years old when he recounted his story for the bank's anniversary book in 1998, said the courtship reminded him of the saying san gu mau lu (three visits to the straw hut) from the Chinese historical epic, The Three Kingdoms.
Bei, ruler of the Shu kingdom (where the province
Lee's track record as HDB chairman and as someone who had held leadership
ositions in both
On the staff of the bank when Mr Lee joined were family members, relatives and friends of its shareholders and associates, who were used to working under an informal and paternalistic management. For the first time in the bank's 25 years, the staff formed a union.
But as Mr Lee recalls in the book: ""I had to carry out the necessary changes decisively, yet be sensitive to the needs and concerns of those who had served the bank loyally and contributed much in the past.''
When Mr Lien, at 89, passed over the chairmanship of the OUB Group to Mr Lee, he described at his farewell dinner that the latter was ""a close confidant of mine for over 20 years'' and ""a pillar of strength for me''.
12/08/01 How Lien courted Lee to helm OUB