Elizabeth Sam, one of Singapore’s most renowned female bankers, passed away on Monday (Sep 11) at the age of 84.
Ms Sam was hospitalised in early September, said her son, Mr Sherman Sam.
Who was Elizabeth Sam?
Born in 1939, Elizabeth Sam was considered to be a trailblazer within the finance industry during her lifetime.
Sam started her career at the Ministry of Finance in 1963 when it was located at the former Fullerton Building. At the time, she was among one of the three lady recruits who joined the ministry’s administrative service when it was under Dr Goh Keng Swee, who was the Minister for Finance between 1959 and 1965.
She joined the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in 1971 when it was established. Sam was promoted to chief manager in 1976, and left subsequently in 1981. Sam was a main board member of the Mercantile House Holding from 1981 to 1987 before joining Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) in 1988 as executive vice president.
When Sam was appointed to OCBC’s main board in October 1996, she became the first female board member of a Big Four bank in Singapore at the time.
In the same year, she was awarded Singapore’s Public Service Star (BBM) for her work and contributions to Singapore’s financial sector. International financial magazine, Euromoney, also voted her as one of the top 50 women in finance around the globe.
In April 2008, Elizabeth Sam was appointed as non-executive and independent director of Singapore Exchange (SGX)-listed Straits Trading. At the time, she was already on the boards of Banyan Tree Holdings, Thai bank, Kasikornbank, SC Global Development and Australia-headquartered company AV Jennings Development.
During her tenure in both the ministry and Singapore’s central bank, Sam oversaw the development of the financial markets in Singapore especially the Asian Dollar market and the foreign exchange market.
She was also instrumental in the development of the futures market and was chairperson of the Singapore International Monetary Exchange (Simex) for two terms.
Elizabeth Sam was also the character referee for presidential candidate Ng Kok Song during the 2023 Presidential Election. She was also his first boss.
Elizabeth Sam cause of death
Elizabeth Sam was hospitalised in early September, said her son, Mr Sherman Sam, 57, adding that doctors wanted to run tests for cancer, but her exact cause of death was not confirmed when she died.