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The biggest controversy that counterpointed the enormous groundswell of goodwill after the team summited Everest was the Citizens vs Permanent Resident divide. People demanded to know why the final two climbers that reachd the top were not Singapore citizens but merely permanent residents (failing to understand that at least two offive climbers on the May 19th 1998 first attempt were citizens).

Below are some news stories during that time after our return, and letters written on some related topics as recently as 2008.



Cherian George’s take on the realities that Singapore face – that it has to embrace permanent residents as well as its own citizens in a talent-scarce landscape

The Front page of the STraits Times ( 2nd time in a week as more photos were sent via SATphones)

How The New Paper covered the controversy


How the S21 thinktank model for SIngapore’s future lauded a risk taking mentality


Ed Siew on the cover of a local magazine.



From The Straits Times: Jan 15, 2008
Edmund Hillary faced controversy, like Singapore’s own Everest busters

I NOTE with sadness the death of Sir Edmund Hillary. John Hunt’s 1953 expedition which saw Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay ascend Everest was one of several benchmarks I used when leading the 1st Singapore Everest Expedition in 1998.

Like Hillary, I was 33 years old when I set foot on Everest. And like Hillary and Hunt, I faced controversy on my return from Everest – largely from whining, uninformed Singaporeans who asked why there were foreigners on the team. Many failed to realise that, unlike some recent immigrants who have come with a more mercenary intent, all of the team’s permanent residents had made Singapore their home well before the climb.

Others moaned of the high cost of the expedition (when only 12 per cent was from taxpayers’ funds).

The full story of what transpired has been well documented in books like Mountain To Climb.

Singaporeans are only now, in my opinion, beginning to understand the difference between price and value. The great investor Warren Buffett described that relationship best when he said: ‘Price is what you pay, value is what you get.’

The countless people who have been inspired by our own small mark in Singapore history, and have gone out to achieve their own dreams, is value that is priceless.

David Lim

Leader, 1st Singapore Everest Expedition 1998

Leader, Singapore-Latin American Everest Expedition 2001

Members of the 1st Singapore Mt Everest Expedition 1998


David Lim Yew Lee (leader/climber) – 33, multimedia executive

Justin Lean Jin Kiat (climber/communications) – 25, student

Khoo Swee Chiow (climber) – 33, systems analyst

Leong Chee Mun (climber) – 33, teacher

Edwin Siew Cheok Wai (climber) – 28, outdoor activities instructor

Dr Mok Ying Jang (climber) – 30, physician

Dr Robert Goh Ee Kiat (climber) – 33, defence engineer

Mohd. Rozani bin Maarof (climber) – 30, service technician

Dr Shani Tan Sian Wei (team doctor) – 39, anaesthetist

Johann Annuar (communications officer) – 23, student

Col. Bruce Mackenzie Niven (base camp manager) – 63, consultant



Man Bahadur Tamang (sirdar)


Climbing Sherpas:

Kunga Sherpa (deputy sirdar)

Dorje Phulilie

Pasang Gambu

Kami Rita

Nawang Phurba

Phurba Sherpa

Fura Dorje

Dawa Tshering 

Lhakpa Tshering

Dawa Gyalzen

Lila Bahadur Tamang


Other basecamp staff:


Urke Tamang

Sonam Lama

Pralhad Pokharel (Liaison Officer)

Thal Bahadur Adhikari (Badri)

Birbahadur Tamang

Gun Bahadur Tamang

Yula Tshering


DB Koirala (Trekking/logistics agent)



Major contributors:

Singapore Pools

Ricola Asia Pacific

Cerebos Asia Pacific

NTUC Income Pte Ltd

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Telecom

Singapore Turf Club

Singapore Sports Council

The Singapore Army


Other contributors (in alphabetical order):

All-Propade (Zarges containers)

Apex Pharmacy (pharmaceuticals)

Apple Computers (laptops and desktop systems)

Bayer (specialist drugs)

Cisco Systems (routers)

CommerceAsia and SingNet (website hosting)

Contax (cameras and Zeiss T* lenses)

Harper’s Trading (Pocari Sweat isotonic drinks)

Hewlett-Packard (inkjet printers)

Kodak (digital cameras)

Meteorological Service Singapore (weather reports)

Millet (mountaineering clothing)

Motorola (GP68 radios)

Nalgene Sport Bottles

National Youth Council

Nature’s Farm (food supplements)

NERA (satellite telecommunications)

Rogen Singapore (media consultancy)

Salomon (approach and technical boots)

Siemens (solar panels)

Sony  (digital video cameras)

Starbucks Coffee

Stubai (mountaineering equipment)

SunSing Trading (Citizen watches)

W.L. Gore and Associates (Gore-Tex clothing and equipment)


Official media:

Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS5 and TCS8)

Radio Corporation of Singapore (ONE FM and 93.3FM)


Expedition websites:



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