Lim Pin, Dr, (b. 1936, Penang, Malaysia - ) is an academic and medical doctor. He was vice-chancellor of the National University of Singapore (NUS) for 19 years, the longest term for that office. Lim has also chaired the National Wages Council since 2001 and chaired the Bioethics Advisory Committee from December 2000 to March 2011.
Education and early career
Lim attended Raffles Institution between 1951 and 1956, and received three distinctions at principal level in the Cambridge Overseas Higher School (Full) Certificate examinations in 1956. The following year, he was awarded a Queen’s Scholarship and pursued medical studies at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He graduated in 1963 and obtained his Master of Arts degree the following year. Lim then worked as a registrar in the diabetic department at King’s College Hospital in London and completed his Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP, a postgraduate diploma) in 1965.
He returned to Singapore as a specialist in endocrinology and metabolism, and was a medical officer with the Ministry of Health from 1965 to 1966, before becoming a lecturer in the Department of Medicine at the University of Singapore. In 1970, Lim was awarded the Commonwealth Medical Scholarship and was attached to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, Scotland. He then received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Cambridge.
In 1974, Lim became an associate professor at the University of Singapore and four years later was promoted to professor and headed the Department of Medicine. As head of the department, he introduced the practice of having lecturers assessed by students in 1979. That year, Lim was appointed deputy vice-chancellor of the university.
Career at NUS
When the University of Singapore merged with Nanyang University to form NUS in 1980, Lim headed a committee formed to oversee the integration of staff. The following year, he was appointed vice-chancellor of NUS and early on, Lim signalled his intention to place a higher emphasis on the university’s research and development efforts.
During his term, the number of research institutes established at NUS increased greatly, and the university’s research complemented Singapore’s push into industries of high economic value. Lim’s role as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board allowed him insight into the expertise and manpower needs of the economy, and he actively supported research and development collaboration with private companies.
A company, NUS Technology Holdings, was also formed to develop the university’s research efforts into commercial applications. Lim later regarded the establishment of a research culture as his most important contribution to NUS. In addition, he increased the number of foreign teaching staff at NUS, revamped its curriculum to allow for more cross-discipline flexibility and cut lecture hours in favour of more tutorial time.
During Lim’s term, there were two high-profile departures from NUS – those of neuropsychology lecturer and politician Chee Soon Juan, sacked for misconduct, and American lecturer Christopher Lingle, who left Singapore abruptly and returned to the United States amid police investigations into his alleged contempt of court. He was later found guilty in absentia. Another significant incident was the protest by students against a fee increase in 1997. Lim and Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan met the students and the protest ended after discussions between the two parties.
Lim stepped down as NUS vice-chancellor in May 2000 and returned to academia as Professor of Medicine at NUS. He also began practising as a senior consultant in endocrinology at the National University Hospital, and was named University Professor, one of the highest academic appointments at NUS.
Holding a clinical interest in endocrinology, Lim has produced more than 100 research papers including a number on the areas of calcium and magnesium metabolism, diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease.
Bioethics Advisory Committee
Lim was appointed chairman of the newly formed Bioethics Advisory Committee (BAC) in December 2000,. The BAC examines legal, ethical and social aspects of biomedical research in Singapore and makes policy recommendations to the government. It also carries out consultations with various public groups including religious and professional ones as part of the recommendations process.
In September 2001, the BAC indicated its approval for the use of embryos no older than 14 days for human stem cell research. In June 2002, the BAC also recommended that therapeutic cloning of embryos to produce stem cells be allowed under strict regulation. Its recommendations on stem cell research, reproductive and therapeutic cloning were accepted by the government in July 2002 and later adopted into legislation.
Under Lim’s chairmanship, the BAC also produced ethical guidelines on the collection, storage and use of human tissue for research, genetic testing and human-animal combinations in stem cell research among others. He vacated the BAC’s chairmanship in March 2011 and was named its Emeritus Advisor.
Lim succeeded fellow academic Lim Chong Yah as chairman of the National Wages Council (NWC) in April 2001,. The council is a tripartite body bringing together representatives from employee unions, industry and government, and issues recommendations on wage adjustments. In 2003, the NWC called for wage reform with salary structures to be made more flexible through the use of monthly variable components linked to performance and productivity, and for salaries to be delinked from seniority.
In September 2007, Lim chaired a committee that studied and proposed a national annuity scheme. The committee, which included representatives from unions, non-governmental and grassroots organisations and academia, proposed 12 annuity plans that were accepted by the government in February 2008 to make up the National Lifelong Income Scheme (also known as CPF Life).
Lim is the founder-president of the Endocrine and Metabolic Society of Singapore, a former Master of the Academy of Medicine (Singapore) and Overseas Advisor to the Royal College of Physicians of London. He has been chairman of Applied Research Corporation and NUS Technology Holdings, and been a director of other companies including Neptune Orient Lines, Overseas Union Bank and United Overseas Bank. Lim has also sat on the boards of a number of institutes including the Institute of Policy Studies, the Institute of East Asian Political Economy and the Singapore International Foundation.
1976 : Fellow, Royal College of Physicians, London.
1978 : Fellow, Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
1981 : Fellow, Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh.
1981 : Fellow, American College of Physicians.
1982 : Honorary Fellow, College of General Practitioners, Singapore.
1982 : Eisenhower Fellowship.
1984 : Pingat Pentadbiran Awam (Emas) (Public Administration Medal, Gold).
1988 : Officier, Ordre des Palmes Academiques.
1990 : Pingat Jasa Gemilang (Meritorious Services Medal).
1992 : Honorary Fellow, Royal Australian College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists.
1992 : Honorary Member, National University of Singapore Society.
1995 : Friend of Labour Medal from National Trades Union Congress.
1997 : Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.
1997 : Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
1999 : Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from University of Hull.
2000 : Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Distinguished Service Order).
2002 : Lifetime Achievement Award from Lee Foundation-National Healthcare Group.
2003 : Outstanding Service Award from NUS.
While studying in the United Kingdom, Lim met Shirley Loo, a Kuala Lumpur-born law student, and married her in 1964. They have three children.
Ahmad Osman. (2001, April 7). NWC chief will keep ‘open mind’. The Straits Times, Home, p. 8. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Chang, A-L. (2002, June 22). Panel sought various views for guidelines. The Straits Times, p. H19. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Chia, S-A. (2003, May 22). Wage cuts and reforms proposed. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Chua, L. H. (1997, February 1). Making S’pore Boston of the East. The Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Chua, M. H. (1996, September 28). NUS hopes to produce well-rounded graduates with global outlook. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Chuang, P. M. (2001, February 7). Ethical issues key challenge for bio-ethics team. The Business Times. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from Factiva.
Fixing the wage system. (2003, May 23). The Business Times. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from Factiva.
James, K. (2002, June 22). Seeking the middle path. The Business Times. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from Factiva.
Khor, C. (1981, May 18). V-C who puts people first. (1981, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Lee, S. H. (2007, September 28). ‘If you think you’re old, you talk yourself into being old’. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
National University of Singapore. (n.d.). Lim Pin. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from http://www.nus.edu.sg/aboutus/chancellors/vice-chancellor-biovcLimPin.php
Loh, C. K. (2008, February 13). A choice to make, a payout for life. TODAY, p. 1. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Morris, R. (2002, June 21). Singapore paves way for human embryo cloning for research. Associated Press. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from Factiva.
Needs of our society – new focus of NUS research. (1981, June 2). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Nirmala, M. (1995, August 30). R & D generates fame – and a little fortune – for NUS. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Nirmala, M. (1999, August 13). Bold changes to NUS curriculum. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Nirmala, M. (1999, August 13). He’s never afraid to try new things. The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Nirmala, M. (1999, August 13). An advocate of change. The Straits Times, p. 42. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Nirmala, M. (2000, March 18). Don who launched a gentle revolution in an ivory tower. The Straits Times, pp. 54-55. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Nirmala, M. (2000, March 18). Recalling the V-C blues. The Straits Times, pp. 54-55. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Peh, S. H. (2001, November 17). Singapore indicates approval for stem cell research. Reuters. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from Factiva.
Quek, T. (2000, May 24). Top university honour for Prof Lim Pin. The Straits Times, p. 41. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
The Queen’s scholarships for three. (1957, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Visser, D. (2001, December 28). High-tech Singapore grapples with tough questions on embryonic stem cells. Associated Press. Retrieved on October 21, 2011, from Factiva.
The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to 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.
Lim Pin, 1936-
National University of Singapore--Officials and employees--Biography
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