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Philip Yeo (University of Toronto): Neither Civil Nor Servant

“Neither Civil Nor Servant – The Philip Yeo Story” raises more than S$500,000 for underprivileged children in Singapore: “Philip Yeo is unlike any civil servant. He prefers action over talk, cartoons over words and speed over due process. The maverick was blunt, direct and not afraid to challenge the status quo, earning him a reputation not only as one of Singapore’s most accomplished government officials, but also among its most colourful bureaucrats.” “Mr Philip Yeo grabs a piece of paper on his table and starts doodling furiously. "Life," he proclaims, right hand deftly executing a series of lines and dots, "is a series of points". How a person's life pans out, he says, depends on who he meets, and when. If he had not secured a Colombo Plan scholarship - which came with a five-year government bond - after his A levels, he would not have graduated with a degree in industrial engineering from the University of Toronto. "If I had not been bonded, I would not have gone to Mindef," says Mr Yeo, who held various appointments in the Ministry of Defence between 1970 and 1999. And he would not have met the likes of the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, deputy prime minister Goh Keng Swee, and minister for defence Howe Yoon Chong, three men who had a profound impact on his 50-year career as a civil servant.”

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