FROM SCHOOL DROPOUT TO SHIPYARD MANAGER

BY PEARL LEE, Straits Times

MR ROY Lim, 57, now draws a five-figure salary every month as a shipyard manager at Keppel Fels.

But the man, who described himself as “playful”, was a school dropout. After Secondary 2, he went on to the Vocational and Industrial Training Board, the predecessor of the Institute of Technical Education. But again he did not complete his studies there.

In 1977, after his national service, Mr Lim joined shipbuilding company Far East Levingston, Keppel Fels’ predecessor, under an apprenticeship scheme.

He spent the first year working full-time, and the second year as a part-timer, attending classes at night.

“As an apprentice, I learnt skills such as welding, cutting and blueprint reading. Then as a technician, I was involved in building oil rigs,” said the father of three sons.

His monthly salary was just $220, which was “just enough for a single man to survive”, he recalled.

Thirty-seven years on, he has served in various positions in the company – a technician, a foreman, a superintendent, and now, one of two shipyard managers in the company.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described Mr Lim as “a role model”, an example of one who excelled despite not having the academic qualifications. He also thanked Mrs Lim for standing by her husband through difficult times.

“There are many other Roy Lims… in Singapore. They may not have degrees, but are working hard and trying to improve themselves,” said Mr Lee.

“So long as you work hard, you can always hope for a brighter future here in Singapore.”

Mr Lim’s daily tasks now involve going on board oil rigs to inspect them and mentoring junior workers.

“I told myself that I don’t want to retire. Keppel is a family to me,” he said.

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