lives and times of hrh: The memoir of Mr Herman Ronald Hochstadt

The memoir provides a vivid, warm and witty account of Mr Hochstadt’s life and career in public service as the former Secretary of Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew

“We came into the public service at a time where there were only two choices — do, or die,” Mr Herman Ronald Hochstadt mused in his memoir, titled lives & times of hrh.

The book has been published under the Ridge Books imprint of NUS Press, and jointly launched by NUS Press and NUS Libraries. Proceeds will go towards supporting needy NUS undergraduates.

Among the first to join the Singapore Government Administrative Service in the post-colonial era, the University of Malaya Bachelor of Arts (Honours) graduate saw the nation through its most tumultuous times. Having worked alongside 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, Mr Hochstadt was at the forefront of pivotal moments in modern Singapore’s history. He played a key role in establishing the nation’s major public institutions, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior & Defence, and the Singapore Armed Forces.

On the international front, Mr Hochstadt secured recognition for Singapore at the United Nations and, following his retirement from the Civil Service, served as Singapore’s first non-resident High Commissioner to South Africa and its neighbouring countries.

A member of the Presidential Council on Minority Rights and the Presidential Elections Committee, he also contributed to the corporate sector through various appointments on the boards of major companies.

In the foreword to lives & times of hrh, Professor Tommy Koh noted that Mr Hochstadt had served the nation with great distinction through his dedication to both the private and public sectors.

The memoir also shared the family history of the Hochstadts in Asia from the early 19th century, including the life of Mr John Hochstadt, Mr Hochstadt’s grandfather and founder of the Singapore Casket Company.

“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,” said Mr Hochstadt.

A believer in the importance of education and a generous benefactor of the NUS community, Mr Hochstadt contributed $750,000 in 2018 to establish the Hochstadt NUS Bursary Endowment Fund to support financially-needy undergraduate students enrolled in any course of study at the University. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Hochstadt NUS Bursary Endowment Fund.

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.

“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,” said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye.

The memoir is available at all leading bookshops or from nuspress.nus.edu.sg at $36.00 (before GST). It will be available in North America and Europe from October 2020.

See press release.

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