Proceeds from new memoir of Herman Ronald Hochstadt to support deserving and needy NUS students

The memoir of Mr Herman Ronald Hochstadt, titled lives & times of hrh, was launched virtually today. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Hochstadt NUS Bursary Endowment Fund, which provides financial assistance to deserving and needy undergraduate students at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The book is published under the Ridge Books imprint of NUS Press, and the launch was organised by NUS Press and NUS Libraries.

lives & times of hrh is a memoir, a highly personal, warm and witty account of Mr Hochstadt’s life, with a focus on his public service career. It gives a first-hand account of how he worked with Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and other Pioneer Generation leaders in laying the foundations for the key institutions of independent Singapore. The many changes and dramatic events that shaped the evolution of Singapore from a crown colony to a thriving independent nation are vividly depicted.

Mr Hochstadt graduated from the then University of Malaya in Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1958. He rose through the civil service to serve as Permanent Secretary in the Ministries of Communications, Education, Finance and Law. Since the 1990s, he has served Singapore as a diplomat, Chairman and member of government-linked and other corporate entities, and on national-level advisory councils.

The Hochstadt NUS Bursary Endowment Fund was established in 2018 through a donation of $750,000 by Mr Hochstadt, in aid of deserving and needy undergraduate students who enroll in any course of study at the University.

Besides the Hochstadt NUS Bursary Endowment Fund, he also set up the Hochstadt Scholarship in The Humanities in 2014. This Scholarship is awarded to outstanding students from the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, who major in Humanities subjects, including English Language, English Literature, Theatre Studies, History and Philosophy. In 2013, Mr Hochstadt set up, in memory of his late wife, who was the Founding Chief Librarian of NUS, the Peggy Wai Chee Leong-Hochstadt Fund to develop and upgrade NUS Library services and facilities.

For his service and contributions to NUS and the community, Mr Hochstadt was honoured with the NUS Distinguished Arts and Social Sciences Alumni Award in 2015, and the Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2019.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “Philanthropic support from our alumni and friends has been instrumental in providing our students with opportunities to receive a good university education and develop them to their full potential. We are grateful for Mr Hochstadt’s generosity, his continued association with NUS, and we congratulate him on his new book.”

Mr Hochstadt said, “I am glad to share some of the stories of the Hochstadts in Singapore and some of my memories, fond and otherwise. I decided to call it lives & times to give some sense of how circumstances for me and my family, like those for the nation, changed, generally favourably, over the years. The university was part of my life from 1952 onwards, and I’m pleased to be able to share the proceeds from the sales of the memoir back to the NUS community.”

lives & times of hrh

lives & times of hrh is a memoir by Herman Ronald Hochstadt (better known as hrh) of highlights of his family history, childhood, illustrious career, and life. He traces his family’s history in Asia, from the early 19th century, and the colourful lives of forebears, including that of his grandfather, John Hochstadt, who founded the Singapore Casket Company. He then continues through his childhood and education, during the Japanese occupation and post-war, before moving on to his working life.

Professor Tommy Koh, in his Foreword to the book, notes that Mr Hochstadt was one of three Permanent Secretaries from the Eurasian Community in Singapore, and had served the nation with great distinction, both in the private and public sectors.

Mr Hochstadt was among the first to be recruited to the elite Singapore Government Administrative Service in the post-colonial era. He worked directly with key pioneer generation political leaders, including Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Goh Keng Swee, Foreign Minister S. Rajaratnam, and Law Minister E.W. Barker, in establishing the major public institutions of modern Singapore. As Secretary to Founding PM Lee, he assisted in the lead-up to the merger with Malaysia and dealing with the aftermath of Singapore’s independence. He played a key role in many pivotal moments in modern Singapore’s history, including helping to secure Singapore’s recognition at the United Nations and internationally, as well as setting up the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior & Defence, and the Singapore Armed Forces.

Following his retirement from the Civil Service, Mr Hochstadt served as Singapore’s first non-resident High Commissioner to South Africa and its neighbouring countries. He was a member of the Presidential Council on Minority Rights and the Presidential Elections Committee. He also contributed to the corporate sector through his appointments on the boards of major companies.

lives & times of hrh is cloth-bound and fully illustrated, with 15 black-and-white photographs of Mr Hochstadt with family, colleagues, and friends. Mr Hochstadt had an unusual ability to inspire those working for him, and his signature wit and charm are on display in the memoir, in the ways he weaves together stories of his life and career with some of the key moments of Singapore’s development. Full of warmth and humour, the book traces a life dedicated to public service in Singapore, from its time as a newly internally independent State of Singapore through its evolution to the Republic of Singapore.

The book is published by NUS Press under its Ridge Books imprint. It is now available at all leading bookshops or from at $36.00 (before GST). It will be available in North America and Europe from October 2020.

A video of the virtual launch can be viewed here.

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