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What keeps Singapore’s former mercantile tsar going?

He does not sing karaoke, has no seductiveness in mahjong and gets wearied by a small thought of spending hours on a golf course.

Philip Yeo has customarily one hobby: reading. He reads on a highway and he reads during home. One of his favourite childhood memories was renting a boat, sailing off a north-east seashore of Singapore and spending an whole day in a object reading alone.

His dream home is one made like a fungus with a round fringe a floor-to-ceiling library so that he can sleep, eat and live totally surrounded by books.

“While people of my age are chasing a small white ball, we read,” he said.

His omnivorous ardour for a created word accounts for a success of a former mercantile tsar of Singapore.

For some-more than dual decades from a midst 1980s, he led a city state’s absolute Economic Development Board, in assign of sketch investors, formulating jobs and in that process, mostly last a instruction of a country’s economy.

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He gathering Singapore’s economy on a relentless ceiling charge, ensuring it always stayed forward of competitors by nimbly relocating from wiring to wafer fabrication, from chemicals to biomedical.

It was probable since of an implausible network that he fake around a world, being on a first-name basement with many of a CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

That ability to bond was unequivocally mostly down to his extended believe acquired from reading. Colleagues who worked with him for years called him “an oracle”.

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He is means to collect adult on any theme and rivet in a suggestive discussion. During a talk with This Week in Asia, for instance, he danced facilely between a US presidential choosing and Pokemon, a story of Okinawa and radical Islam.

Before he visited Iran in 2004 for a initial time, he installed adult on a story of a country, a civilisation and even myths. That authorised him to bond fast with his hosts and he succeeded in sketch Iranian scientists to Singapore.

When he was heading Singapore’s biomedical journey during a spin of a century, he review medical journals, books, magazines and even Genetics for Dummies to urge his believe of a subject.

His gait of reading astounded many.

National University of Singapore boss Tan Chorh Chuan, who worked with Yeo on a biomedical push, combined in a soon-to-be published autobiography of Yeo: “He’s an zealous reader and reads during an implausible speed. He can review a whole book in one or dual days.

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“He also has highlighters in his bag, that he uses to prominence portions of a book that are poignant to him. It’s not as yet he goes by a readings but understanding. He was means to master adequate of a domain believe [on biomedical matters] very, unequivocally quickly. He was very, unequivocally impressive.”

Yeo, who now runs his possess organisation charity mercantile growth services to countries such as Colombia, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia, reads opposite many subjects.

His stream picks are a Ottoman sovereignty and drones, so as to improved know a troubles in a Middle East.

“I customarily review a few books during a same time,” pronounced Yeo, who turns 70 in October. “When we get wearied with one, we pierce on to a other, acid for a dessert that will excite me. But we will always lapse to a book and finish it.”

When he is on a road, he relies on his iPad Pro, that he has converted into a unusual unstable library of books, journals and magazines.

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The inscription houses his favourite Economist, New Yorker, Foreign Affairs and Wired magazines, along with thousands of articles that a former propagandize librarian diligently and evenly filed away.

There is a folder named “Education”, for instance, with some 20 underling folders patrician “Graduate Education”, “Gender in Education” and “Computer Education” and so on.

It allows him to simply find and send out articles to friends, to whom he is a one-man handle agency.

“As prolonged as we have wifi, we can leave me anywhere in a universe and we will be happy,” pronounced Yeo, who sits on a house of Kerry Logistics and Hitachi, among others. “I’m never brief of reading materials.”

Peh Shing Huei is a author of ‘Neither Civil Nor Servant: a Philip Yeo Story’, that will be launched in Singapore subsequent month