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‘Mr POSB’ Bertie Cheng dies from Covid-19; son urges seniors to get vaccinated

SINGAPORE — Known by some as “Mr POSB”, the former chief executive officer (CEO) of the bank Bertie Cheng Shao Shiong died on Friday morning (Oct 22) from Covid-19 at the age of 84.

Bertie Cheng Shao Shiong, the former chief executive officer of POSB, died of Covid-19 on Oct 22, 2021, aged 84.

Bertie Cheng Shao Shiong, the former chief executive officer of POSB, died of Covid-19 on Oct 22, 2021, aged 84.

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  • Mr Bertie Cheng, who was POSBank's chief executive for 23 years, died on Oct 22 from Covid-19
  • He was not vaccinated and had been waiting for vaccine technology to "stabilise" before getting the jab
  • His younger son urged elderly Singaporeans to get vaccinated if they have not done so
  • Cheng was an "iconic" leader of POSB prior to its merger with DBS
  • He had steered POSB in the path of digitalisation back in the 70s, and introduced its ATMs around the island


SINGAPORE — Known by some as “Mr POSB”, the former chief executive officer (CEO) of the bank Bertie Cheng Shao Shiong died on Friday morning (Oct 22) from Covid-19 at the age of 84.

He was not vaccinated against the coronavirus, his son Alvin Cheng, 44, told TODAY.

“My father was a kind and generous man, and he had enjoyed a good life,” said Mr Cheng, who works as a retail assistant at a grocery store.

“We had tried very hard to convince him to get the vaccine for his own good, but he had been reluctant to do so,” added the younger of two sons. “He was just not keen on vaccines.”

The elder son, Mr Melvin Cheng, 46, said that their father was not against vaccines altogether, but had been waiting for vaccine technology to "stabilise" and for "version two" of the vaccines to emerge before going for the jab.

"He had indicated that he would like for vaccines to become more established before getting vaccinated," said the oldest son, who works in the finance sector. In the meantime, their father would only leave the home sparingly.

The family’s worst fears were realised when Cheng, who had high blood pressure and diabetes, tested positive for Covid-19 late last month after developing a sore throat and cough.

He had been warded at National University Hospital for three weeks before his death at 1.45am on Friday.

The death certificate listed the coronavirus as a factor in his death.

Mr Alvin Cheng urged elderly Singaporeans who are still unvaccinated to get the jab as soon as they can for their own protection against the coronavirus.

“I count it as God’s blessing that my father was able to pass away peacefully, instead of having to suffer at the intensive care unit,” he said.

Cheng, who retired from POSBank in 1997 prior to its acquisition by DBS Group Holdings the following year, had served as POSB’s CEO for 23 years. He had worked at the bank for more than three decades, when the Post Office Savings Bank — as it was then known — was still a statutory board under the Ministry of Communication, and later, the Ministry of Finance.

Under his leadership, POSB became the first bank to adopt computerisation, going digital in 1974. Cheng adopted the trademark key logo for the bank and pushed for the introduction of ATMs around the Republic in 1976, and was instrumental in building the bank’s identity as a “people’s bank”.

In 2010, DBS chief executive officer Piyush Gupta invited Cheng to return to POSB as an advisor at a time when the bank was losing customers to its rivals, partly due to long queues at ATM machines.

Mr Gupta had described Cheng as an “iconic” leader of the bank during its early years.

In response to TODAY’s query, DBS said: "All of us at DBS would like to express our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr Bertie Cheng."

Mr Peter Seah, DBS chairman, said: “Bertie will be remembered as one of the pioneers that built Singapore and has created a key institution for past and future generations. He is truly Mr POSB and has shared his experience most generously with us. We in DBS owe him a big thank you.”

Calling Cheng a "a good friend and colleague" he has known for a long time, Mr Seah added: "He will be missed for his friendship and wonderful sense of humour.”

Head of POSB Yeo Wenxian said Cheng was unwavering in his belief that being the 'people’s bank' meant always doing the right thing by our customers and employees.

"His constant support, wise counsel, and big heart will be dearly missed by us all."

Condolence wreaths at the wake of former chief executive of POSB bank Bertie Cheng at Toa Payoh on Oct 22, 2021. Photo: Ili Nadhirah Mansor/TODAY

Besides POSB, Cheng had served as a director of several listed companies, including Hong Leong Finance, engineering company TEE International, infocommunications firm TeleChoice International, Brunei bank Baiduri, and seafood firm Pacific Andes Resources Development.

He had previously served as a board member of NTUC Childcare Co-operative, as well as a chairman of the Medifund Committee of Singapore General Hospital and the vice-chairman of the Consumer Association of Singapore Endowment Fund.

Cheng was a recipient of the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 1984 and the Public Service Medal in 2001. In 2008, Cheng also received the Friend of Labour Award from the labour movement.

He is survived by his widow and two sons.

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Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination POSB DBS

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