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ALUMNUS ALUMNI MAGAZINE OF THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

APR–JUN 2013 // ISSUE 93

The

THAT

‘A-HA’

MOMENT

“GO

NUS PRESIDENT PROF TAN CHORH CHUAN ON NURTURING CRITICAL MINDS

FORTH AND

LEARN“ TO

SERVE

HUMANITY ASSOC PROF FATIMAH LATEEF’S DUAL PASSIONS OF MEDICINE AND POLITICS

N U S

GROWING A

GREEN CONSCIENCE DEVELOPING AN ENVIRONMENTAL ETHOS ACROSS DISCIPLINES

HOW HISTORY GRAD NAVTEJ SINGH BECAME A BIZ WHIZ


CONTENTS APR-JUN 2013 ISSUE 93

2

IN THE NEWS

8

COVER STORY

18

MY WORD

First Word

GLOBAL CONCERN, CONCERTED EFFORTS FUTURE FORWARD

20 A MEMORY THAT LIVES ON

WE REMEMBER

22 ALUMNI SCENE

MYRIAD PASSIONS

24 CHANGEMAKER

Conservation journeys are never-ending and the mantle must be taken on by others who believe in the cause.

FROM HISTORY TO INFOCOMM

26 PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE LIFELONG LEARNING 28 U@LIVE PROF TAN CHORH CHUAN, MR TAN BEE THIAM

32 ALUMNI HAPPENINGS Main photo Getty Images; photo of Assoc Prof Savage (opposite) by Kelvin Chia

42 CULTURE 46 CLASS NOTES 48 LAST WORD

PROFESSOR LEO TAN

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Director, Special Projects, Faculty of Science

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30 Mr Tan Bee Thiam

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The

ADVISOR Assoc Prof Victor R Savage (Arts and Social Sciences ’72) EDITOR Karin Yeo (Arts and Social Sciences ’97) PUBLISHING CONSULTANT MediaCorp Pte Ltd

ALUMNI MAGAZINE OF THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

APR–JUN 2013 // ISSUE 93

The

CONTACT US Office of Alumni Relations National University of Singapore 11 Kent Ridge Drive Singapore 119244 Tel: (65) 6516-5775 Fax: (65) 6777-2065 Email: oarconnect@nus.edu.sg Website: www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Facebook: www.facebook.com/nusoar

THAT

‘A-HA’

MOMENT

“GO FORTH AND

NUS PRESIDENT PROF TAN CHORH CHUAN ON NURTURING CRITICAL MINDS

LEARN“

The AlumNUS Magazine is published quarterly by the NUS Office of Alumni Relations. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NUS Office of Alumni Relations or the National University of Singapore. For more information or to read The AlumNUS online, please visit www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet. Copyright 2013 by the National University of Singapore. All rights reserved. Printed in Singapore by KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd.

TO

SERVE

HUMANITY ASSOC PROF FATIMAH LATEEF’S DUAL PASSIONS OF MEDICINE AND POLITICS

N U S

HOW HISTORY GRAD NAVTEJ SINGH BECAME A BIZ WHIZ

GROWING A

GREEN CONSCIENCE DEVELOPING AN ENVIRONMENTAL ETHOS ACROSS DISCIPLINES

Cover Final W Spine.indd 1

4/5/13 1:37 PM

ART DIRECTION: Augustine Tan COVER IMAGE: Getty Images

‘Future Forward’, see My Word, pg 18

I

DEAR FELLOW ALUMNI AND FRIENDS, n this issue of The AlumNUS, I would like to introduce myself as your new Acting Director – the new kid on the block – a position I began on 1 February 2013. Despite the many announcements that have been made within NUS and to our alumni, there are still some of you who may not be aware that our former Director of Alumni Relations, Associate Professor Lim Meng Kin, passed away in January 2013. Meng Kin, as known by many of you, epitomised the alumni spirit – selfless devotion, quiet determination, an affable disposition and an engaging personality. I am grateful to Meng Kin and other predecessors for leaving me a well-established Alumni Relations department to carry out the University’s various alumni engagement initiatives. There is already a myriad activities in place, and I hope that you will take the opportunity to engage in these, both locally and internationally. Under the NUS umbrella, I hope the Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) can serve as a catalyst of what the economist and educator Kenneth Boulding

calls an “integrative power” – where our alumni can create networks of trust that enable groups to work together toward common goals. Such networks have to be developed from within our alumni community whether for self-indulgent or altruistic community activities. I look forward to more of you volunteering yourselves for new initiatives. Every major endeavour begins with one idea or a group of alumni initiating a process of building relations for a cause. That idea grows in a community bonding together because it has commonalities and shares similar interests. As alumni, we should be proud that NUS is developing into an internationally well-recognised brand as a research and teaching university. In various overseas-based university rankings, NUS and its various Faculties and Departments are climbing the higher echelons of academic excellence. In the 2013 Times Higher Education ranking, NUS is number two in Asia after the University of Tokyo. As our alumni, you can certainly leverage on this global recognition and become an active participant in the University’s activities. The relationship between NUS and you is a two-way process: you take pride in being an NUS graduate and we take pride in having you as our active stalwarts in your various career, professional, societal and national endeavours. With climate change literally in the air, we decided, in this issue of our magazine, to focus on our alumni, faculty and students who are active at various levels (government, research, education, NGO) in engaging with environmental and climate change issues and challenges. I hope you reflect on the environmentally-inspired poetic lament to the unborn by Kirpal Singh. And as usual, we capture the many Kodak and Candid Camera moments of alumni activities by our local groups and overseas chapters. OAR is here to serve you as best we can. Your alumni relationship with NUS is a continual process, and it can be an active symbiotic relationship of your own volition.

ASSOC PROF VICTOR R SAVAGE ACTING DIRECTOR, NUS OFFICE OF ALUMNI RELATIONS Arts and Social Sciences ’72 APR–JUN 2013

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IN THE NEWS

STEPHEN RIADY CENTRE OPENS AT UTOWN

THE BROAD-BASED, EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING AT NUS IS OF CRITICAL IMPORTANCE IN PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THEIR FUTURE CAREERS, AND FOR THE INDIVIDUALS THEY WANT TO BE.

NUS’ latest mixed-used facility is named in recognition of S$30m gift from the Stephen Riady Group of Foundations.

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Dr Stephen Riady, Executive Chairman, Overseas Union Enterprise Limited

The rooftop pool at the Stephen Riady Centre. The building houses facilities for learning, the performing arts, athletic recreation, retail and dining.

THE STEPHEN RIADY CENTRE ENCAPSULATES THIS DIVERSITY OF OPPORTUNITIES WITH ITS MYRIAD FACILITIES THAT OFFER SPACES FOR LEARNING, SPORTS, CULTURE AND SOCIAL INTERACTION.

Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President, said, “Education at NUS is distinctive for its academic rigour and vibrant student life. Both are important because the experiences that take place inside and beyond the classroom shape our students and help them grow intellectually and as well-rounded individNUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan uals. The Stephen Riady Centre encapsulates this diversity of opportunigift will enable many bright but finanties with its myriad facilities that offer cially needy students to pursue their spaces for learning, sports, culture and studies in our University, provide social interaction.” unique opportunities for our students Prof Tan expressed NUS’ gratitude in sports, arts and culture, and to Dr Stephen Riady and the Stephen support innovative new educational Riady Group of Foundations for the programmes.” generous gift to the University. “This Dr Stephen Riady, Executive

Rooftop pool at the Stephen Riady Centre photo by The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings; Official opening photo by NUS Office of the Provost

n 8 March 2013, the National University of Singapore (NUS) officially launched the Stephen Riady Centre – a threestorey multi-use complex that houses teaching and learning spaces as well as performing arts and athletic recreation facilities – to promote active learning, support students’ varied interests and develop their talents. Open to all NUS students, the University’s latest mixed-used facility in the NUS University Town (UTown) is named in recognition of a generous S$30 million gift to NUS from the Stephen Riady Group of Foundations. This gift includes a S$5 million top-up to the S$25 million gift announced last year. It is expected to get up to S$45 million in matching grant from the Singapore government. Gracing the opening was Guestof-Honour Mr Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s Minister for Education. The NUS Chinese Orchestra opened the ceremony with a rousing performance. Mr Heng, together with distinguished guests, later caught a glimpse of the dynamic student life at UTown through a tour of educational and sports facilities and performing arts spaces.

Chairman, Overseas Union Enterprise Limited, said, “The world today is increasingly complex and fast-paced, and there is a strong need to ensure that the young in Singapore and Asia are given the opportunities to become well-rounded individuals who will understand these complexities and have the character and heart to serve society. The broad-based, experiential learning at NUS is of critical importance in preparing students for their future careers, and for the individuals they want to be. I am pleased that the gift will support students in need, as well as programmes that will build on the top-rate holistic learning at NUS.” The Stephen Riady Centre was specially designed to enable a vibrant student life on campus with its teaching and learning spaces, performing arts and athletic

recreation facilities, as well as retail and dining outlets. With a unique architecture that won the Green Mark Platinum Award by the Building and Construction Authority, the Centre connects the Town Plaza and the Education Resource Centre to furnish a venue ideal for student activities at UTown.

(From left) NUS Students’ Union President Mr Goh Ren Kai, Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, Dr Stephen Riady, Mr Heng Swee Keat, NUS Board of Trustees Chairman Mr Wong Ngit Liong and NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye at the launch ceremony of the Stephen Riady Centre.

APR–JUN 2013

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IN THE NEWS

RANKINGS:

NUS GAINS GROUND

University moves up a rank to 22nd worldwide, and second in Asia, after the University of Tokyo. NUS IS NOW the top 22nd university in the 2013 World Reputation Rankings published by the Times Higher Education (THE). This latest ranking is one spot up from the University’s 23rd placing in last year’s list and leads NUS into being the top 2nd university in Asia, after the University of Tokyo. NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan said, “We are delighted to be placed, once again, among the top 25 universities in the world in terms of our global reputation. This is a strong recognition of our commitment to delivering high quality education and research of global impact. It is also a testament to the extraordinary achievements of our outstanding faculty, dedicated staff, talented

students and successful alumni. We will continue to pioneer innovations in education and research that will benefit Singapore, the region and beyond.” Mr Phil Baty, Editor of THE rankings said that the Reputation Rankings are recognised as a powerful and widely-used index of true global academic prestige. 2013’s rankings are based on responses from 16,639 experienced senior academics the world over; selected to be statistically representative of both their discipline and their region. “The top 100 list represents only around 0.5 per cent of the universities in the world, so all of those ranked are truly among a tiny elite of the world’s most highly regarded academic

HOT OFF THE PRESS

NUS’S STEADY PROGRESS, YEARON-YEAR, INTO THE TOP ECHELONS OF THE RANKINGS IS A REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT.

THE WAY WE WERE // Imagine a Singapore in which flat rental was S$50 a month, a plate of noodles cost 20 cents, and television broadcasts ended at 10pm each night. From the Blue Windows is a collection of Dr Tan Kok Yang’s memories of growing up in Queenstown in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Alexandra Canal flooded regularly, and wayang shows were a regular feature on Mei Ling Street. Dr Tan lived in Princess Estate, an area that was colloquially known as ‘the Blue Windows’ because of its unique blue glass-louvred windows. Written with nostalgia and a gentle sense of loss, this memoir is a personal tribute to, and a celebration of Queenstown, as well as of a simple but fulfilling way of life that has all but vanished from present day Singapore.

institutions,” Mr Baty emphasised. “In just Mr Phil Baty, Editor three annual of THE rankings rounds of the survey, we’ve collected responses from almost 50,000 global scholars, and in this context, NUS’s steady progress, yearon-year, into the top echelons of the rankings is a remarkable achievement. It has now moved into second place in the whole of Asia, and is gaining ground against its rivals from all over the world. “It is a great success story, not just for NUS but for Singapore as a whole, and something to celebrate.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMAN RELATIONS

ABOVE Former Singapore President Mr S R Nathan, recounting his social work experience and varied careers during the NUS Senior Alumni Tea and Chat. To his left is Dr Rosemary Khoo, President of the Senior Alumni (Local Alumni Group) and moderator of the event.

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THE MOST IMPORTANT relation to addressing challenges in society, individuals and family, according to former Singapore President Mr S R Nathan, is human relations. Human relations was what helped him to safely return home in a hostage crisis, shared Mr Nathan at the NUS Senior Alumni Tea and Chat session on 28 February 2013 at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House. Relating to a capacity crowd of more than 200, Mr Nathan shared his journey – from being a fatherless young boy without education to one where he assumed the highest office in the nation – at his talk on “How the University opened my eyes and how my social studies course shaped my career(s)” and “My unexpected journey to the Presidency”. Mr Nathan’s social work background

served him well, equipping him with the capability to deal directly with societal problems. “In social work, you must have a field, believe in a cause, although academically you’re trained to be detached from all of them,” he said. The knowledge and opportunities gained from the course led him to multiple careers, including the maritime industry and the trade union movement. The many-faceted human relations experience he acquired allowed him to handle each job with great competence. After Singapore’s independence, Mr Nathan served in the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Defence. He went on to take up major positions in various companies including The Straits Times Press, followed by postings as High Commissioner

Main illustration: Getty Images

Life lessons from Mr S R Nathan.

to Malaysia and Ambassador to the US, Defence then, Mr Nathan and 12 other men before setting up the Institute of Defence volunteered to be taken hostage in the and Strategic Studies. He remained there negotiation process, to secure the release until he was elected in 1999 as Singapore’s of the ferry crew. During the flight taking 6th President. the hijackers to Kuwait, he engaged two When asked by then Prime Minister of the terrorists from the Japanese Red Mr Lee Kuan Yew to run for presidency, Army to try to build goodwill. Mr Nathan’s Mr Nathan recalled being hesitant about success in building up rapport with the taking office, being aware of his lack of Japanese contributed to the safe release contact with heartof the Singaporeans. landers. However, he No book can teach rose to the occasion anyone how to deal with such and gained respect critical situations. The key and popularity during was the relations Mr Nathan his two presidential had cultivated, besides the terms until 2011. He felt ability to make a judgment that his achievement because of his training, vocaduring his presidency tion and establishment skills. was the bond he has Organised by the NUS built with the people. Office of Alumni Relations “Leadership is not and the Senior Alumni (Local about people rising to Alumni Group), the NUS Former Singapore your level. It’s about President Mr S R Nathan Senior Alumni Tea and Chat you coming down to also saw Mr Nathan engaging their level and pulling them up,” he noted. senior alumni from the University over tea At the talk, Mr Nathan was asked about and signing autographs for his books Why the Laju incident in 1977 when four armed Am I Here?, Winning Against The Odds men hijacked the ferryboat Laju. As head of and An Unexpected Journey - Path to Security and Intelligence at the Ministry of the Presidency.

IN SOCIAL WORK, YOU MUST HAVE A FIELD, BELIEVE IN A CAUSE.

As a publisher of journals and books with a focus on Asia-related social sciences and humanities, NUS Press is committed to enhancing the impact and relevance of scholarly communications in the region. APR–JUN 2013

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IN THE NEWS

RECOGNISING CONTRIBUTIONS

MAKING CITIES SUSTAINABLE Six different dimensions examined at the 4th Symposium for the Consortium of Asian and African Studies.

Alumni are thanked for their efforts and time at an annual Alumni Appreciation dinner.

THIS YEAR’S APPRECIATION DINNER on 19 February 2013 began on a sombre note as alumni, together with NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan (Medicine ’83), reflected on Associate Professor Lim Meng Kin’s passing with sadness. Assoc Prof Lim passed away – barely three weeks earlier – on 31 January 2013, after having served as Director of NUS’ Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) for two-and-a-half years. Under his leadership, the University’s alumni relations were further strengthened. To date, the University has 53 local alumni groups and 16 overseas alumni chapters (see page 20). Taking over the baton from Assoc Prof Lim as Acting Director of OAR is Associate Professor Victor Savage (Arts and Social Sciences ’72). Assoc Prof Savage is no stranger to alumni relations, having played some active and important roles in alumni programmes and activities (see page 18). In his welcome speech, Prof Tan 6

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commended alumni on their continual support and help for NUS and said that with this support, the University is well-positioned for both opportunities and challenges in a year predicted to be marked by both. He also shared with alumni NUS’ latest developments and said that the central focus for the University this year would be on the training of critical minds (see page 28). Prof Tan highlighted to alumni the emphasis the University places on furthering alumni relations. He said, “A very high priority area for [the University] this year, as it has been always in the past, is to build further on our alumni relations…to further strengthen the deep and strong connections between our alumni and our University. And I must say here that our efforts have been very successful today because of the unwavering support of everyone here this evening. Our alumni leaders, our benefactors, our corporate partners, our

colleagues in NUS, our students – I really want to thank you for your commitment and your support, as well as your encouragement. Today, we have over 200,000 alumni in more than 100 countries, with most residing in Asia. I am really grateful and very heartened that our alumni serve as our proud flag-bearers, contributing generously in so many ways; to their work, to the countries where they reside, to Singapore, to their alma mater – [one] we all hold dear.” At the dinner, alumni were treated to a night of entertainment beginning with a lion dance at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House (SFAH) and culminating in an eight-course Chinese dinner at the National University of Singapore Society Guildhouse. There was the perennial favourite Lo-hei dish where alumni and guests ‘lo-heied’ for prosperity and good health in the coming year, as well as engaging performances by the NUS Chinese Orchestra and the NUS Jazz Band. About 180 alumni, friends, staff and students attended the Alumni Appreciation Dinner organised by OAR.

Alumni and NUS Deputy President (Administration), Mr Joseph Mullinix (in blue), enjoying their Lo-hei moment.

BOOSTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY Scientists from NUS and University College Cork achieve a breakthrough that may signal arrival of highly energy-efficient smart phones and tablets.

City illustration: iStockphoto

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Alumni and guests gathered at the SFAH to usher in the Lunar Year of the Snake; The NUS Chinese Orchestra performing to a crowd of 180; Alumni relishing the opportunity to catch up with one another.

‘SUSTAINABLE CITIES’ WAS THE THEME of this year’s Symposium for the Consortium of Asian and African Studies (CAAS) held on 28 to 30 January 2013, at the University Hall Auditorium in NUS. Organised by the Research Division of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), in association with CAAS; and cosponsored by the FASS Cities Research Cluster and FASS Graduate Studies Division, a total of 28 papers were presented over two-and-a-half days. Six different dimensions of ‘Sustainable Cities’ – Migration; Environment; Planning and Managing the Sustainable City; Cities and Disaster Management; Sustaining the Urban Economy; Languages, Cultures and/in the City were examined at the conference. A total of 65 participants attended the symposium and active contribution from the floor generated lively and insightful debates on the concept of ‘Sustainability’ as well as discussions on the construct and cultures of the ‘Sustainable City’.

Redox active ferrocenealkanethiol molecules pack together and assemble into monolayer thin films on silver electrodes. Molecules standing tall instead of crouching form tighter assemblies, which dramatically improve the device properties.

(From left) Dr Nijhuis, together with PhD students Mr Jiang Li (sitting), Mr Li Yuan and Ms Nisachol Nerngchamnong, designed the ultra-small devices using molecules.

LED BY Assistant Professor Christian A Nijhuis from the NUS Department of Chemistry and Dr Damien Thompson from Tyndall National Institute at University College Cork in Ireland, the research team has managed to overcome the challenge of developing miniature active components that do not overheat while showing electrical properties, to create ultra-small devices using molecules. By altering just one carbon atom of the active molecular component, the team has succeeded in designing the devices with a tenfold jump in switching efficiency. By acting as electrical valves, these molecules allow current to flow through them

when switched on and stop current flow when switched off. Through experiments and high-performance computer simulations, the investigators demonstrated unprecedentedly that tiny enhancements in molecule orientation and packing trigger changes in van der Waals forces that hold molecules together. The modifications are substantial enough to dramatically raise the performance of electronic devices. “The researchers are following up on new ideas arising from these exciting results, to ultimately invent a range of novel components for molecular electronic devices,” said Dr Nijhuis. APR–JUN 2013

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ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIENCE

GLOBAL CONCERN, CONCERTED EFFORTS Ensuring environmental sustainability takes the efforts of many, across various disciplines, to arrive at answers – something the National University of Singapore has put into action.

“Each and every one of us can make changes in the way we live our lives and become part of the solution.”

e

BY THERESA TAN

Photo: Getty Images

Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth

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nsuring environmental sustainability is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. By 2015, the nations of the world aim to achieve four things: integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes, and reverse the loss of environmental resources; reduce biodiversity loss, achieving a significant reduction in the rate of loss; halve the number of people without safe drinking water and basic sanitation, and lastly, achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers. “We have to be very proud of what Singapore has done,” says Associate Professor Lye Lin-Heng,

Chair of the Master of Science (Environmental Management) – or MEM – Programme Management Committee. “When I was growing up, we had a lot of nature, but our environment was polluted. I remember always getting a headache when I ventured to the city and had to pass the Kallang Gasworks. The Singapore and Kallang Rivers were stagnant and putrid – we often saw bloated carcasses of animals floating by. We had settlements along these rivers – people cooked, bathed and even defecated in the same river. “There are countries today where people still do that. We’re very fortunate that Singapore has effectively cleaned up in the course of its development. Part of the reason we succeeded was our excellent public housing programme with modern sanitation. It is all inter-related and an excellent example of good governance and management.”  It seems fitting, then, that Singapore would be such a country, and the National University of Singapore (NUS) an institution that offers a unique multi-disciplinary integrated post-graduate programme that provides students with a strong foundation in environmental management, as well as an undergraduate environmental studies course. BIRTH OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMME The genesis for the MEM programme was an interfaculty meeting in mid-1998 initiated by the late Professor Douglas Johnston, a Visiting Professor to the Law Faculty. Almost every discipline at NUS offered a module on the environment, but there APR–JUN 2013

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ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIENCE was little collaboration or cooperation. “We were strongly convinced there was a need for an environmental programme at NUS, and that a good programme in this field had to be multidisciplinary,” recalls Assoc Prof Lye, who is from the Law Faculty. “As an environmental lawyer, I know that the best laws alone will not work. You still need a good governance system, money to build the infrastructure, the right policies, political will, and of course, respect for the rule of law. We are most fortunate that Singapore had (and still has) excellent leadership that chartered and implemented the right paths for us.” A steering committee was formed, with Assoc Prof Lye as Chair, Professor George Ofori from the School of Design and Environment (SDE) as Deputy Chair, and a representative from each faculty/school. students have seven compulsory modThe MEM programme was ules spanning Economics, Public Policy, launched in 2001 with about 30 Law, Management and Assessment, students. Today, it is 12 years in the Planning, Science and Technology. The running and has seen nearly 200 programme has signed MOUs with Prof Leo Tan, Director of Special Projects and graduates. It has been so successful Yale University’s School of Forestry professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, that the demand for an undergraduand Environmental Studies and Duke Faculty of Science ate course was met in 2011 with University’s Nicholas School of the the launch of the four-year direct honours Bachelor of Environment and Earth Sciences. Students from the Environmental Studies (BES) course was launched. three universities benefit from the close collaboration “We should be very concerned about the environof the teaching staff. ment and no single discipline can try to understand The Master programme attracts include architects, or solve the highly-complex issues of environmental engineers, scientists, journalists, teachers and lawyers sustainability,” says Professor Leo Tan, Director of worldwide, from Myanmar and Iran to France and the Special Projects and professor in the Department of United States. MEM prepares its graduates to assume Biological Sciences. “This is why NUS embarked on responsible and influential roles in the public and prithe multidisciplinary MEM and BES programmes…to vate sectors and to make sound decisions that support produce a new generation of graduates who can think/ sustainable development in all countries. function both within and across disciplines.” MEM also For Indonesian Gunawan Tanuwidjaja (MEM ’07), an Architecture lecturer at Petra Christian University, boasts a distinguished Advisory Committee chaired by the MEM programme enabled him to successfully Professor Tommy Koh. implement an Adaptive Landscape Evaluation Tool in The MEM programme is hosted by SDE, while the Bintan Island as part of his studies, together with his BES programme is jointly hosted by the Faculties of Environment Planning educator Dr Malone-Lee Lai Arts & Social Sciences (FASS) and Science. The two Ching. “I suggest current and future MEM students programmes are taught by staff from nine faculties/ embrace the knowledge and experiences from the schools – the FASS; Engineering; Law; Science; Lee course to improve the world, your countries, your Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; NUS Business cities, your communities, your families as well as School; Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, Yong yourselves,” he says. Loo Lin School of Medicine and the SDE. Prof Ofori Marvin Joseph Fonacier Montefrio (MEM ’08), a is the programme’s Director and Associate Professor PhD candidate at the State University of New York says Victor Savage from the FASS is the Deputy Chair. MEM

that “the MEM programme introduced me to a space where I was encouraged to explore the multifarious perspectives of environmental law, policy, economics, social science, management, planning and even ethics. Recently a colleague asked me, ‘Are you a social scientist or a natural scientist? How can you converse so well with engineers, while at the same time speak the language of sociologists, anthropologists and policy analysts?’ I answered, ‘Because I am inter-disciplined. This is a gift of language I first received from the MEM programme.”

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Photos: Getty Images, iStockphoto

No single discipline can try to understand or solve the highlycomplex issues of environmental sustainability.

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY AS A CONSCIOUSNESS NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, together with Professor Barry Halliwell from the Office of Deputy President (Research and Technology), lead an environmental task force in the University which involves key personnel from different disciplines such as Prof Leo Tan; Professor Chou Loke Ming, a marine biologist and Programme Director for BES; Associate Professor Matthias Roth from the Department of Geography, a climate expert; Professor Ong Choon Nam, head of the NUS Environment Research Institute; and Professor Peter Ng from the Department of Biological Sciences, a crustacean specialist. This task force explores and implements new visions and ideas for developing environmental sustainability in NUS. The BES programme is one fruit of this task force. In the four years since the task force was formed in 2009, Prof Ng notes that “We have begun to think differently. The way ahead is challenging. All the talk about a ‘liberal models’ approach to teaching and training graduates, well, we are now actually doing it for our BES programme in many ways.” Given NUS’ growing reputation as a strong research university, the NUS Environmental Research Institute (NERI) was set up in 2007 with the vision to establish NUS as a leading global centre of interdisciplinary research, education and expertise in the field of Environment. NERI’s mission is to coordinate, integrate and facilitate research and educational initiatives across NUS. Current research tracks include the impact of climate change on the environment and green chemistry and sustainable energy. The study of the environment is probably liveliest at the Department of Biological Sciences where

discovering, cataloguing and sometimes rescuing of species of animals is a regular occurrence. For 25 years, the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research has housed a natural collection dating back to 1849 when the Raffles Museum was founded. In 2014, the collection will have a new home – the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, a 7,500 sq m space for what will be one of the largest collections of South-east Asian animals in the region. Environmental sustainability as a frame of mind affects NUS on a macro scale, as evidenced by the Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES), which has a mission to “effect a total shift to environmental sustainability in all aspects of campus life by integrating sustainability into our operations, planning, construction, education, research, instruction and public service”. What began in 1997 as the Campus Green Committee – a volunteer-based group involving academics and administrators who sought to create a ‘clean and green’ environment, has today evolved past ‘Clear Your Own Tray’ campaigns to become a dedicated office with full-time staff who oversee and promote the sustainability agenda on campus. OES was set up in October 2008. Students Against Violation of the Earth (SAVE) is the largest environmental student organisation in NUS and it enjoys support from the NUS administration, NUS Students’ Union and academia. Its flagship annual project is Green Carnival, which is held to raise environmental awareness and to motivate the NUS community to take action. However, for all the good that NUS is doing in furthering environmental sustainability, it cannot work alone. The environment is a shared asset and must be studied not just across disciplines, but in relation to every platform that it concerns – and knowledge and experience from individuals and organisations outside the University Prof Peter Ng, Director of Raffles Museum of can only benefit all stakeholders.

We have begun to think differently. The way ahead is challenging. BIodiversity Research and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science

APR–JUN 2013

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ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIENCE

Law ’73 Chair, Master of Science (Environmental Management) Programme Management Committee and Associate Professor, Faculty of Law

Assoc Prof Lye Lin-Heng (Law ’73) holds Master’s degrees in law from the University of London and Harvard University. She is also Deputy Director of the Law Faculty’s Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law (APCEL), Deputy Chair of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law and former Chair of the Academy’s Teaching and Capacity-Building Committee. Assoc Prof Lye has served as Chair of the MEM Programme since its inception, and has been instrumental in turning what started out as a good idea into a reality. Today, she teaches the compulsory MEM module on Environmental Law and oversees the progress of the programme.

You were there at the genesis of the MEM programme. What was the motivation behind a multi-disciplinary approach? I’m an environmental lawyer but I tell my students, “It’s not enough (to just know the law).” You need the institutions, the right policies; sound land-use planning; and you have to build the environmental infrastructure. For example, you can have a good water law but if you do not have sewage and trade effluent treatment plants, your rivers will still be polluted. The laws have to be enforced, and here, you need a clean government. Everything is inter-related. We were motivated because the environment must be a major concern – every university must have a good programme on the environment. How does MEM compare with what other universities are doing? Before we started this programme, we scouted for good partners, and found the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES), the oldest environment school in the US. They were happy to join us. Today, Prof Marian Chertow, an expert on industrial ecology at Yale, co-teaches the Business and the Environment module. I go to Yale each year to teach a course on Comparative Environmental Law 12

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to their students. Some of my colleagues have also taught there. It all worked very well. We have also partnered with the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University. [As for differences], FES is a comprehensive school in Yale but not us. We have professors from different faculties teaching our MEM classes. It is quite amazing that our different departments work so well together. We’re real pioneers here. Not many universities can pull this off. Why is such a system good? I can say collaboration between faculties is very positive. We (teaching staff) learn from each other as well. A number of us make it a point to attend the fortnightly MEM seminars. We get speakers from different disciplines and it’s open to the public. These seminars expand and enrich our perspectives. Even in my own classes in the Law school, I invite colleagues from other faculties to share their views – so Prof Peter Ng shares his perspectives as a scientist on the workings of the Convention on Biodiversity, for example. In turn, I teach a class to his students on Environmental Law. Now we’re collaborating with professors from the NUS Business School. It’s very positive: they’ve started a Chair there, the Mochtar Riady Professorship in Sustainability.

What do you hope to see in the next 10 years for MEM? I would like the programme to be strengthened. It would be good to have a one-and-a-half year (three semesters) or two-year (four semesters) full-time programme. The programme is very packed now. However we are concerned about the increased costs for students from developing countries. Ideally, we would also like to implement a student exchange programme with Duke and Yale but this is only possible if we have at least a threesemester programme. What improvements can Singapore make by way of its environmental laws? Two things I hope to see: one, recycling laws. Basically, we need a law to compel people to separate their wastes. Taiwan, South Korea and Japan have excellent laws on recycling. Here, we have private garbage chutes in our apartments, so even if we had a law, it cannot be enforced. This has to stop. HDB now builds apartments with a waste disposal chute outside, but there is no separate chute for recyclables. This is fine if we are socially responsible, but in Singapore, regrettably, people only change if there is a law to compel them. Two, we should have an Environment Impact Assessment law (EIA). The EIA is basically a “look before you leap” law, to see how a proposed project impacts the environment. The public should have an opportunity to comment. The decision lies with the government. The EIA enables them to make an informed decision. If the project has to proceed, sound mitigating measures can be undertaken. Environmental sustainability requires political will and a clean government. The whole picture is an integrated one.

Environmental sustainability requires political will and a clean government. The whole picture is an integrated one.

PROFESSOR LEO TAN BSc (Zoology) ’69 and PhD, Marine Biology ’74 Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Director, Special Projects, Faculty of Science

Prof Tan is renown for many achievements in the spheres of the environment and nature, among them being the Chairman who transformed NParks during his tenure from 1998 to 2007. His vision of turning Singapore from Garden City into City In A Garden has come to pass with the creation of Gardens By The Bay. A passionate marine biologist and conservationist, he championed the conservation of the ecosystems at Labrador Park – now the protected Labrador Nature Reserve. Among his many other contributions is the reforestation of Pulau Semakau. Within NUS, he is a fearless fundraiser, most notably for the upcoming Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

Photo of Assoc Prof Lye by Stan Ngo; photo of Prof Tan by Steve Zhu

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR LYE LIN-HENG

You have won many accolades, including the President’s Award for the Environment in 2007. What do you consider your greatest achievements? I am grateful for the accolades not so much for the awards themselves but for the realisation that so many others believed in what I championed – biodiversity conservation at Labrador, regeneration of mangroves at Semakau Landfill, environmental education – and came along with me on my journey. When the Gardens By The Bay was mooted, what was your rationale for the environment? I was Chairman of NParks when the 101-hectare Gardens By the Bay (GB) project was mooted. I supported it because a salubrious environment is essential for our well-being, survival and growth. GB was meant to tell everyone that this tiny island state practises what it preaches about being a sustainable city by taking the term “quality of life” seriously and providing its citizens holistic economic, social and green benefits. Building and landscape architects, city planners and transport/energy experts, besides

scientists, partnered in the making of an environmentallysustainable GB.

Conservation journeys are never-ending and the mantle must be taken on by others who believe in the cause.

You headed NParks from 1998 to 2007. What were Singapore’s parks and greenery like when you took on the position, and what were they like when you left? Singapore was well on the way to being transformed from a Garden City to a City In The Garden when I became Chairman in 1998. For example, NParks enlarged the Botanic Gardens at Cluny, two new Nature Reserves at Sungei Buloh and Labrador were gazetted (in effect doubling the number of nature reserves since independence), Park Connector Networks were built to enable people to safely walk in green spaces, more regional parks were built and public outreach was actively pursued to engage

the community in making the City In The Garden a reality. It was not all plain sailing. It took some time but NParks took a proactive stance of engaging in constructive dialogues and treated all good intentioned “greenies” as partners. By the time I completed my tenure, the public and interest groups were not only partnering NParks in its mission of making Singapore a home in which to live, work and play but to take ownership of the greenery. The stay of execution for Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin is an excellent example of how the public argued for the rich biodiversity to be saved once they learned of its intended fate as a landfill. The authorities intervened in 2001 to stop the reclamation for as long as there is no pressing need. Nature at Chek Jawa is still thriving today. APR–JUN 2013

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ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIENCE

You have also been active in conservation and reforestation of areas like Labrador Nature Reserve and Pulau Semakau. What have you seen as a result of your efforts? Conservation journeys are never-ending and the mantle must be taken on by others who believe in the cause. I have fought my cause for over 40 years and I have no regrets that it took a long time to see Labrador upgraded from park to nature reserve. The next generation must believe it is worth continuing to protect. Labrador is special because it is the last rocky beach on the main island which boasts of a thriving coral reef. Almost all groups of animals and marine plants are represented on this small stretch of shoreline and the diversity of species is enormous for such a tiny area. In recent times, several new species of crabs, a squat lobster, a marine insect and barnacles have been discovered at Labrador. The reforestation of Semakau is unique. Thirteen hectares of mangroves were cleared to create the man-made landfill and Professor Lee Sing Kong and I were appointed biological consultants to the project to restore the vegetation that was removed, by planting new seedlings outside the perimeter of the bunds encasing the landfill. Mangroves grow in muddy substrates that may be high in hydrogen sulphide, cyanide, heavy metals and other pollutants. These mangroves will act as biological indicators or sentinels if pollutants leach from inside the bunded area. 14

ALUMNUS

How has working across disciplines been of benefit? Any interesting projects that have come out of this? Yes, it forces people to think outside their comfort zone. I know of one project between engineering (materials science) and biology that uses the knowledge of biodiversity experts and evolution specialists to study biomaterials. There is another that looks at microstructures to try and deter fouling and develop new structures. And later this year, biologists, engineers and hydrologists (water experts) will work together to try and better manage the swamps in Singapore. This will result in better and more integrated solutions.

It is never easy to break down silos. But we persist and we are seeing some nice ideas being developed.

Are there any disciplines you would like to see get involved? Why and how? I’d like all of them involved in different ways if possible. But I will be honest – it is very hard. People are used to their comfort zones and we cannot blame them. Funding organisations and funding models also tend to be mono-discipline. For

PROFESSOR PETER NG

BSc. Hons (Zoology) ’84 and PhD (Zoology) ’90 Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science and Director, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Prof Peter Ng is a crustacean specialist – crabs, to be precise. He won a local heritage prize for unearthing Singapore’s endemic and highlyendangered species. He is an executive member of NUS Environmental Research Institute, NUS Cluster for Sustainable Research, and various curriculum committees, including the recently-started Bachelor of Environmental Studies.

You said in an interview with The Straits Times in 2009 that “environmental issues are multi-faceted and we need a big picture approach” and so the biologists, economists and lawyers must all be on board to strike a balance

between sustainability and economic development. Now, four years on, has the interdisciplinary approach to environmental issues worked in NUS? If so, how and in what ways? NUS successfully created and launched the BES programme two years ago and this emphasises what we want to do. This programme, which was started by Professor Roger Tan in the Faculty of Science and steered by Prof Leo Tan, is a landmark programme that will help us train a new breed of environmental scientists who are multidisciplinary in outlook. On the research front, scientists are being encouraged to work closer together across disciplines. This will take time. Slowly and steadily we are getting there. No – we are not there yet – it is never easy to break down silos. But we persist and we are seeing some nice ideas being developed.

Photo of Prof Peter Ng by Dr Tan Heok Hui; other photo Getty Images

What would you like to see in Singapore’s green landscape that is not yet on the drawing board? I would very much like to see the marine area immediately around Semakau Landfill become a marine park, if not a nature reserve, at a future date. A littleknown fact is that the waters around Semakau is teeming with a rich biodiversity despite being adjacent to a waste disposal site, and that at least half of the Asia Pacific species of seagrass thrive there. Birds, marine fish and corals, mangrove plants and animals abound. I believe a marine reserve would not be incompatible with economic imperatives as the island could be used as a revenue-generating “eco-resort” that truly reflects Singapore’s Sustainable City mantra. This would be the first man-made island that can proclaim its novel role of being both a tipping ground and a green and clean resort.

true multidisciplinary – crossdisciplinary – research to grow, we need funding models that provide and encourage this. Scientists will do things if they are exciting. And if there is money. At the moment, one domain I am pushing for and encouraging people to get into is biomimetics. It is an excellent field to practice cross-disciplinary research. In your opinion, what positive changes do you see in Environmental education in NUS? We have begun to think differently. The way ahead is challenging. All the talk about a ‘liberal models’ approach to teaching and training graduates, well, we are now actually doing it for our BES programme in many ways. We are ahead of this curve for environmental issues. Yale-NUS endeavours to expand this across all fronts. There is a new “normal” in environmental education; the new normal is that there is no normal. It is fun but it is scary.

PROFESSOR CHOU LOKE MING

BSc Hons (Zoology) ’69, PhD (Zoology) ’75 BES Programme Director

Prof Chou is a respected expert on coral reef ecology and integrated coastal management. He helped to initiate Singapore’s first coral nursery in 2007. Prof Chou is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (International Coral Reef Initiative) and a member of GESAMP (Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection). He has also served as consultant to the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank in the field of marine environment. Prof Chou heads the BES programme in NUS.

As Programme Director for BES, what are the advantages for considering the environment through different disciplines? Addressing environmental problems is most effective through an interdisciplinary approach. Any environmental problem spreads across disciplines and attempting to solve it through a single discipline is inadequate and at best temporary before it manifests deeper and wider. Managing the environment is not just about saving nature, but about accommodating human society and its needs, and requires a good understanding of the biophysical and socio-economiccultural dimensions. Students with an adequate knowledge of governance, law, policy, economics, science and humanities will be better-prepared to deal critically with environmental issues at both, local and global scales. The BES programme draws on the expertise from across the university for the benefit of its students. How has working across disciplines been of benefit? As teachers, we have been trained in our separate disciplines. When teachers from different disciplines teach in the same module, we learn from one another and students will also benefit from the interaction, understand different viewpoints and formulate their own ideas. APR–JUN 2013

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ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIENCE

Adopting a wideangle view DR HO HUA CHEW CONSERVATIONIST

Nature is also not given the importance it deserves because we don’t fully appreciate or value the ecosystem services that it provides.

What is your vision for the BES students who graduate from the course? I see them performing an effective role in influencing thought, action and policy effective towards promoting environmental sustainability. No matter what job they secure, whether in government or non-government

EZRA HO

2nd year undergraduate, Bachelor of Environmental Studies

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The BES is offered as a degree in both FASS as well as the Faculty of Science. Tell us about that, given that you’re a pure Arts student. The BES programme was started up as an undergraduate equivalent to the Masters of Environmental Management. As such, it similarly adopts a multidisciplinary approach to framing environmental education. While BES is separated into two specialisations, one in Environmental Biology (under FoS), which is skewed towards the

institutions, for as long as they can contribute by making changes towards environmental sustainability, that will be a good indicator of the usefulness of the BES programme. In terms of sustainability, what is Singapore as a whole doing right, and what can be improved? Singapore has done well in having a sciences, there is also the Environmental Geography track (under FASS). In our first two years, modules range from environmental engineering, biology, chemistry, statistics, calculus, economics and geography. It is only after our second year that we have more flexibility to choose our electives from either faculty. Because BES is a science-based programme as mentioned, the entry requirements naturally are A-Level mathematics and sciences. However, I was a pure Arts student at the JC level, as such, I was only granted entry into BES by interview.

clean environment with basic amenities like clean water, modern sanitation and a safe living environment available to all. In terms of sustainability, we are vulnerable because of the lack of natural resources. The water loop can be closed in the near future but this requires energy. Energy and food have to be imported and these are areas that require creative ideas. Nature is also not given the importance it deserves because we don’t fully appreciate or value the ecosystem services that it provides.

BES sparked my intellectual curiosity in allowing me to explore various challenging disciplines and their interactions with one another. I saw BES as a major that by its nature, lends itself to activism and advocacy, which gives it more meaning than other university majors. What is your passion, and how does BES help you to get closer to your goals? My interests primarily lie in understanding why current social, economic and political structures have failed to alleviate suffering and neglect in the world. [In BES I study] environmental

problems, the “fruits” of this crisis. [Also] much progress is being made in drawing lessons from the natural world to apply to human systems, in what is known as biomimetics, a concept which I have gained a greater understanding of in BES and enjoy reading about. What do you hope to do when you graduate? I intend to work in a research-related field, straddling the natural and social sciences. Ideally, I would like to pursue a Masters degree in the Peace and Sustainability programme that the United Nations University offers.

Photo of Dr Ho and Ezra Ho by Steve Zhu; other photo iStockphoto

Are there any other disciplines you would like to see get involved? Why and how? I would like to see more disciplines coming on stream as specialisations. The foundation modules in the first two years cut across most of the major disciplines and make the student a Jack-of-all-trades. In the final two years, students get to focus where they become master of one specialisation. This breadth-and-depth approach is one of the strong qualities of the programme. Right now, we have two specialisations, Environmental Geography and Environmental Biology. More specialisations will open up the opportunities for students to venture into different aspects of environmental studies.

This is an indispensable approach because the environment has many dimensions and affects more or less everyone. All humans are embedded in the economic-socio-cultural context but we cannot ignore the fact that this is ultimately embedded in the natural environment with its natural laws and processes. Our activities such as economic activities can have impact on the environment, but such impact can also rebound back on the human sphere. An example is global warming, which if not mitigated, will have an impact on the survival of human civilisation as a whole with all that we humans are proud of – whether it’s an economic, political or spiritual impact, or an impact on our cultural achievements and values. Sadly, the political leadership in the world has yet to come to grips with this dreadful but realistic scenario.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE IF THE ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK IS FORGOTTEN OR IGNORED. Dr Ho Hua Chew is a veteran conservationist in Singapore and an active member of the Nature Society of Singapore, which has been responsible for many things including the conservation of Sungei Buloh and the establishment of the Kranji Marshes Nature Park. Dr Ho taught at NUS’ Department of Philosophy, from 1985 to 1999.

As one of Singapore’s most dedicated conservationists, what is your view on environmental sustainability as a multi-disciplinary pursuit?

So we need to look at environmental problems from as wide an angle as possible. We need to rope in economics, sociology, psychology, the biological and physical sciences (hydrology, climate) and so on. We cannot run away from this. What disciplines do you feel are particularly important when it comes to a coordinated effort in sustainability? The discipline that is most important is the science of ecology: the science of the inter-relationships between living things and their habitats and visa versa. Sustainable development doesn’t make

sense if the ecological framework is forgotten or ignored. Given our ultimate embedment in the natural world and our ultimate dependence on it for our health and survival, the ecosystem and its natural processes like the carbon cycle, hydrological cycle, nitrogen cycle, etc should be the over-arching framework. It makes no sense to talk of economic sustainability if this is going to drastically destroy our eco-system framework, which is the over-riding life-support system for all living beings. Any nation should be looking at how this life-support is affected beyond our national borders, as our eco footprint may be transnational and unsustainable. You have proposed that Singapore should turn mature woodlands into nature parks instead of creating new parks. Why? Yes, the government has a plan to develop 20 new public parks, including one on Coney Island. From my observations, our existing parks and even Nature Reserves like Bukit Timah are overcrowded. The principle behind nature parks will be conserving biodiversity while allowing for a more eco-friendly recreational pursuits. Such parks will also ease the visitorship pressures on the existing nature reserves and public parks. What do you feel are the most urgent environmental issues Singapore faces right now, and what should be done? The most urgent environmental issue is the government’s plan to increase the population from 5.4 million to a maximum of 6.9 million. The foreseeable consequence of this is that by 2030 and beyond – due to the infrastructure development needed – only 9 per cent of the green areas out of the 56 per cent extant in Singapore is planned to be left untouched as nature reserves and public parks. There is an urgent need to conduct a professional survey of the people’s preferences pertaining to unprotected green areas in Singapore. This is to give the government a clear picture of the situation. In The AlumNUS July-Sept 2013, read the views of Mr Bernard Harrison, former CEO of Singapore Zoo, and Ms Wong Lee Lin, Executive Director of Sembawang Shipyard on environmental sustainability in business, and influencing young minds to protect and enhance the environment. APR–JUN 2013

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My Word

Future Forward

representing all the different faculties. So I would say I have a lot on my hands to deal with, and I have to be totally hands on. What is your portfolio like?

It deals with alumni with many sectorial interests over different incarnations of the University: Raffles College, the University of Malaya, the University of Singapore and the National University of Singapore, which came about from the merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University in 1980. Each cohort identifies with a particular incarnation of the University. Then there are the relationships alumni have with places. [Such as] the Medical School (which set the foundation of NUS in 1905) that was rooted in the Sepoy Lines campus. In the past, Architecture was in Ladyhill. And then there were the Engineering students who were in the former Singapore Polytechnic. And the old Arts and Social Sciences, Science and Law groups are associated with Bukit Timah campus. Now all of them are amalgamated here – plus now we also have a hybrid because we have a new campus across the road – University Town. Obviously those students will have a new tradition, and they will bond to that new environment; and within that new environment, there’s the Yale-NUS group that is being developed. So you see, each group has a different sense of place, and we have to take into consideration all these issues when reaching out to alumni with as diverse backgrounds as ours.

Assoc Prof Victor R Savage (Arts and Social Sciences ’72) shares his thoughts on the future of the NUS Office of Alumni Relations. by Theresa Tan

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t is a role he has come into quite suddenly, but Associate Professor Victor Savage is ready to meet the demands as Acting Director of the NUS Office of Alumni Relations (OAR). An academic for over 30 years, he has served as Head of Department for Geography, Coordinator for the Department of Southeast Asian Studies programme, Deputy Director for the NUS Centre For the Arts, and Deputy Director of the Masters of Environmental Studies programme. He shares his views with The AlumNUS about moving from academia into this key administrative role.

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AlumNUS

career development, or wholesome activities the family can take part in. Then there are other alumni who have passed these stages of life, who might want to engage and socialise, and other groups that look to do something that is of social value like engaging in charitable activities and so on. Encouraging alumni to take on social and charitable issues and events is good for NUS – it helps to build our good corporate name within Singapore; such activities will show that graduates and alumni do care and are concerned about other disadvantaged sectors of our society. When does the cultivation of alumni begin?

Alumni cultivation begins when a student gets accepted into university, from the very onset when he becomes a part of the undergraduate community. Lots of students have several options to study in different universities, and once they choose their university, they have chosen it with a purpose. Either they like the academic standing of the university, or they feel that the university has a certain appeal. I continually have students ask me, “My parents can send me to any university overseas – do you think I should study in NUS or should I go overseas?”

Alumni cultivation begins when a student gets accepted into university, from the very onset when he becomes a part of the undergraduate community.

How do you feel coming into this role?

What is your vision for OAR?

Photo by Kelvin Chia

It’s a surprise for me and, given that I’m very new at the job, I guess I have a very steep learning curve. I’ve been in academia for over 30 years, so this is a big shift to a dedicated administrative position. OAR is a very developed outfit and it has a slew of activities already in place till the end of the year. So my first task is to get familiar with all that OAR is engaged in currently. We have very active and supportive alumni both within Singapore and overseas; there are over 200,000 of them spread over 100 countries with 16 overseas chapters. Within Singapore, there are 53 Local Alumni Groups (LAG) connecting alumni via faculty-based, school-based, halls of residence-based or interest-based groups. Some of these include our Senior Alumni Group, the Alumni Association, the NUS Business School Alumni Association and the NUS Alumni Dragonboat Team. Also, there are groups like the Class of ’72, which is an across-the-board alumni group

example, everybody who comes from Harvard, Princeton, Yale or Stanford feels a sense of pride, because these universities have high standings academically. As our University becomes more well-known, alumni will feel a greater sense of pride, being part of this University. That is one area I see that we can leverage on when we interact with our alumni. The second is to build a sense of esprit de corps among alumni. It is more difficult to do that here, unlike in American universities where they have inter-collegiate games. An esprit de corps is created when they support

There are three areas: First, [developing] a sense of branding. You feel a sense of pride of being a graduate from NUS, and that branding is underscored by the academic calibre as the University rises through the ranks internationally. Obviously, people who have graduated from here feel a sense of greater pride, being involved in a university that is Top 25 or Top 10. For

their basketball team or football team. They go to these games dressed up in the colours of the university and they are 100 per cent behind their team! In Singapore, we might have four universities but we don’t have any real games or anything that creates a sense of rivalry. The downside is the rivalry (laughs) but the upside is the togetherness, the sense of being from a university regardless of the faculty you come from. It feels good. That esprit de corps is the most difficult to build now. The third is to conduct activities that are in keeping with what our alumni want at their stage of life, or in keeping with their sectorial interests. For example, many of our young alumni have two major challenges: one, career development and two, home building. Getting married and setting up home are both very timeconsuming activities. You have to try to build activities that will help them in these two big life-cycle issues, such as workshops and talks that are relevant to their

Has the scenario changed?

It’s very different from when I was an undergraduate, when there were no options and people were less affluent. You got into university and you thanked God you got in there! So, for a student today to make such a critical decision in choosing a university , he must think that NUS has advantages over studying overseas. We have to capitalise on that. We have to show these students that they have made the right choice. We have to make sure the activities they engage in as undergraduates are activities that are important in their total development as a person. Happy students make the best recipe for good alumni. When you are a happy student, you will always say, “Wow, I had a wonderful time!” Apr–Jun 2013

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A MEMORY THAT LIVES ON

Assuming duty in July 2010 as Director of NUS’ Office of Alumni Relations (OAR).

BELOW February 1991 – Having led by example, BG (Dr) Lim (right), was able to inspire younger officers and men when the time came for Singapore to send a medical team to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Dessert Storm, the liberation of Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s forces. During his time at the frontline, he experienced first-hand an Iraqi SCUD missile strike.

ALL OF US WHO KNEW MENG KIN RECOGNISE THE TREMENDOUS PASSION AND COMMITMENT HE PUT INTO HIS WORK, AS WELL AS THE MANY IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS THAT HE HAD MADE. IN MANY WAYS, HE EPITOMISED THE SPIRIT OF NUS WHICH WE ADMIRE AND UPHOLD.

ABOVE March 1986 – Just one month after assuming command of the SAF Medical Corps, BG (Dr) Lim was thrust into the heart of the action, directing rescue efforts in the wake of the Hotel New World collapse. He would later be awarded the Public Service Star for his role in the operation.

We remember

With then Canadian High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr David Sevigny.

APR–JUN 2013

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The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings

ABOVE (left) BG (Dr) Lim began his career in the SAF in 1975 as the Medical Officer (MO) at the 23rd Battalion SIngapore Artillery, and a year later was promoted to Chief MO of the Artillery formation. During this time, he also participated in a number of overseas exercises and in July 1976 was second-in-command of a relief mission to earthquake-stricken Bali (right).

ABOVE A medical doctor by training, BG (Dr) Lim was instrumental in the advancement of aviation medicine during his stint at the RSAF in the first half of his 20-year military career.

Photos courtesy of XXX

At one of his last events (in suit), Intrigues of the Qing Imperial Court, as Director of OAR.

Directing rescue efforts Hotel New World photo by

ABOVE (second from extreme left), enjoying himself at Kent Ridge Alumni Day, 2012.

ABOVE In 1977 thenCPT (Dr) Lim (left), was sent to the Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine in the United Kingdom under an SAF training award. Upon his return, he would be the sole Aviation doctor in the RSAF.

ALUMNUS

Sharing a joke with NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan at 2012’s Alumni Appreciation Dinner.

NUS President, Prof Tan Chorh Chuan

Soldier, scholar, gentleman – The AlumNUS pays tribute to the late BG (Retd) Assoc Prof Lim Meng Kin (1950-2013), former Director of the NUS Office of Alumni Relations, with a look back at his illustrious career.

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With Alumni Advisory Board members on a visit to University Town.


ALUMNI SCENE

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s a medical school undergraduate, Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef used to take public transport to and from the National University of Singapore (NUS) every day. “I lived in the East and had to take a one-and-a-half hour journey, switching buses to get to campus,” she recalls. “My family background was modest, and I could not afford a car. But [the long commuting] built resilience and stamina, [as did the] long days and nights studying and spending time in the hospital wards.” The benefits of those tough years are obvious today; Assoc Prof Lateef wears many hats. At the Singapore General Hospital, she is Senior Consultant at the Department of Emergency Medicine and Trauma; Vice Chair of the Academic Clinical Programme; Emergency Medicine Director; and Clinical Quality Officer as well as Director of Undergraduate Training and Education. At NUS, she is adjunct Associate Professor at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. At Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, she is Associate Professor at the Core Faculty, Capstone Programme. At the School of Health Sciences and Nanyang Polytechnic, she is a Senior Part-time Lecturer. And of course, Assoc Prof Lateef

is a Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, a position she has held since 2006. The 47 year-old is especially passionate about her teaching roles. “When I was in primary school, I was asked to write on the topic: ‘What I want to be when I grow up’, and I wrote that I wanted to be a teacher,” she reveals. “Now I teach at NUS, Duke-NUS, Nanyang Polytechnic, the School of Health Sciences, and I do lots of public education talks and motivational and career talks too. “When I teach, I learn twice, thrice and even more, and I get better at what I do. Teachers have to themselves learn in order to teach and be good at it. Teaching is like story-telling and you have to make it memorable for your doctors and students. You have to be impactful too.” Assoc Prof Lateef picked up some teaching methods from her former lecturers, some of whom are now her colleagues. “One memorable lecturer was Professor Rajendran, our embryology lecturer,” she says. “His use of animation and figures during lectures was excellent, and now I am doing these in my own teaching.” For her work and contributions in so many areas, Assoc Prof Lateef has 39 awards to her name, including the Outstanding Young Person Of The World Award in 2006; the Dean’s

SERVING HUMANITY IS THE BEST WORK OF MY LIFE, AND BOTH MEDICINE AND POLITICS ALLOW ME TO DO THIS, TO SERVE PATIENTS AND MY RESIDENTS TOO.

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Photo by Justin Loh

MYRIAD PASSIONS Member of Parliament and medical specialist Assoc Prof Fatimah Lateef (Medicine ’90) talks about the “best work” of her life. BY THERESA TAN

Award for Excellence in Teaching rural communities in mountainous in 2008; and the NUS Luminary areas. But as Assoc Prof Lateef became Award in 2009. She is also a dedicated more experienced, leading a disaster researcher and writer, having written, mission and humanitarian response to date, 120 publications in peercame naturally. reviewed scientific journals. The former NUS Running Club “I’m still writing,” she adds. member is also a seasoned mountain She is also the first Malay female climber and marathon runner. “I used doctor in Singapore to run every to specialise in day at my peak Emergency Medicine training for and Traumatology, marathons. I a choice she made ran in the USA because of “the love and UK when for the discipline”. I was working “I wanted to do there. Now I Internal Medicine run twice a at first, and took the week and on post-graduate exams, other days, but I changed my I do 500 sit ups mind after working at home and in the emergency deuse a stepping partment. It requires machine when fast decisions and I watch TV. improvements can “But I am Assoc Prof Fatimah Lateef be quickly seen. It not racing suits my personality much these as well. days due to heavy work commit“Emergency Medicine also ments,” she says. involves crisis management and Assoc Prof Lateef, who is single, humanitarian medicine. I enjoy my is the middle of three children. She work and the excitement till today, describes herself as a “very simple, 23 years on,” she declares. Assoc Prof shorts-and-T-shirt person, who enjoys Lateef also served as an International reading and cooking” while at home. Consultant in Emergency Medicine It is mind-boggling to consider in India and has been appointed how Assoc Prof Lateef fits all she International Advisor, Max Institute of does into her life, but she insists that Medical Education, New Delhi, India. there is no secret. Instead, she puts Assoc Prof Lateef also volunit down to discipline, passion and teers her expertise, leading medical responsibility. missions across Asia. She is on the “I do not multitask, but I do sysBoard of Directors for Mercy Relief, tematic prioritising with motivation. Singapore, and has been a volunteer Because I believe in all the things I do, with the organisation since 2003. I will do them. My principle is, don’t As she tells it, “I have been to take something on if you cannot give Afghanistan after 9/11 in a war your best to whatever that is,” she scenario; Iran during an earthquake offers by way of explanation. and during war; China during the Giving credit to her undergradu2008 Sichuan earthquake; Indonesia ate years, she says that period built for during various tsunamis, floods, her a “foundation in medicine” as well quakes, volcano eruptions; Pakistan as her commitment to serve society. during the 2005 South Asian earth“Serving humanity is the best quake; and Myanmar during Cyclone work of my life, and both medicine Nargis in 2008.” and politics allow me to do this, to She started off helping poor serve patients and my residents too.”

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CHANGEMAKER

FROM HISTORY TO INFOCOMM Navtej Singh “Naffi” (Arts and Social Sciences ’72) is a fearless serial entrepreneur whose career has taken him from textiles to satay, advertising to information technology, and beyond. BY THERESA TAN

Photo by Justin Loh

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hen he was just a History undergraduate in the then University of Singapore, Mr Navtej Singh’s entrepreneurial streak was already showing. “Together with a friend, I set up the Student Travel Bureau on campus to organise budget travel and tours for undergrads,” recalls the 62 year-old, a serial entrepreneur who is perhaps most notable for co-founding Tagit, the mobile enterprise solutions company that devised many of the mobile banking apps being used in Singapore and 12 other countries across the world. Tagit’s dominance in the market has earned Mr Singh the moniker “Mobile Czar”. Not quite the career path one might expect from a History major whose first job upon graduating with an Honours degree in 1973 was with his family’s textile business. “I was with my Dad’s business for only a short time, but the lessons imparted have lasted a lifetime,” he reveals. “One, I learnt that business has to be done with utmost honesty and integrity. Once people lose the trust in you, you are finished. So, I learnt that debts must always be settled, and promptly. “Second, customers – and staff – must be treated with respect and never be short-changed. That’s the fundamental way to build loyalty to your business. And last, but not least, never do business with bad people. Going into a partnership or getting work done by a crooked person will soon come to grief. These fundamental values

which my Dad imparted to me, I am proud to say, have held up well for me in my business ventures.” For his second job, Mr Singh chose to enter advertising as a copywriter in 1980. He soon discovered his flair for the client servicing side of the business, and within two years of joining the advertising agency, was made its Client Services Director, taking care of important accounts with billings that exceeded S$5 million. He was a veritable superstar in the heady world of ‘80s advertising, but the urge to own his own business soon grew too strong to resist. “In 1983, I saw that there was no good standard satay restaurant in the city as this beloved local food was then only served by hawkers. I asked myself, ‘Why not?’ and decided to take the plunge with a 120-seater restaurant in a prime spot on Orchard Road. The queues formed from opening day and we were busy all the time. We later developed it into a franchise concept.” Mr Singh followed up that success with a chain of juice bars at a time when nobody had even heard of “froyo”. He obtained the master licence for frozen yogurt brand J. Higby’s. In 1992, he sold off all his food businesses and returned to advertising to help an ailing agency. He turned the business around in two years, sold it and set up a consultancy to offer marketing and media expertise. But ever abreast of trends, he breached a new frontier in 1999: information technology. Mr Singh’s first effort was an incubator project called Globeweb Technologies, set up to develop businesses for the Internet. Two concepts took flight with venture capital funding: CAZH, an e-payment concept that was later acquired and is now running in Malaysia as the national Financial Process Exchange; and Vasunas, a mobile animation technology company. “In August 2004, my partner and I sold CAZH and the next month, we set up Tagit. Nokia mobile phones had started coming into the market with built-in cameras and other simple Java applications, and this gave us a feeling that this was going to open up a lot of new possibilities for mobile phone users. “The scale of things to come was, of course, beyond our comprehension then but we knew we had to be in the mobile app space for the next big idea. That’s when we decided to try something in mobile commerce and created, for the first time, the concept of ‘Mobile Box Office’, which enabled moviegoers to book cinema tickets, make payment and receive tickets [in the form of 2D bar codes] with their mobile phone. In a big cinema-loving market like India, the idea was an instant hit!” The iPhone was launched in mid-2007 and that changed everything. “The mobile revolution went

another notch higher with smart phones, which were in effect mini computing devices in the hands of people. We were ready to ride this wave with our mobile enterprise application platform, which enabled banks to extend their services securely to their customers on mobile phones,” he shares. Tagit’s proprietary mobile platforms have won clients like Singapore Airlines, Citibank and DBS Bank, as well as leading cinema chains like PVR and BIG in India. After three decades in business, Mr Singh is looking forward to his next wave. “Once I am done with [technology] I think I will still have the energy to go through another cycle before I call it a day,” he muses. “This time I am looking at doing something in the luxury market segment. There is a strong wave of rising affluence sweeping the region and today we have more millionaires and even billionaires in Asia than in the West.” Of his Midas touch, Mr Singh admits he relies on gut feel and instinct, along with the ability to understanding timing. “One has to spot the gaps in the market and decide whether there exists an opportunity to position a new product or service, Navtej Singh and create a demand for it. The final step would be to take the risk and bet on it! “Most people would stop short at the last stage. I thrive on change and on taking risks, and hence I have never shied away from exiting a business once its premise has been validated and it has met customer acceptance.” While his work may Testaments to a life thriving on change. not reflect the content of his years in the History department, “the university experience opened up my mind to a whole new world,” says Mr Singh, adding that he was an elected member of the Students’ Union Council and assistant editor of the campus paper, Singapore Undergrad. “Those experiences developed in me the confidence to go forth and learn, and do new, unprecedented things in life. There was also the easy atmosphere of students of all races and backgrounds mixing together unselfconsciously. This multiracial milieu forged many new friendships which I cherish to this day.”

ONCE I AM DONE WITH [TECHNOLOGY] I THINK I WILL STILL HAVE THE ENERGY TO GO THROUGH ANOTHER CYCLE BEFORE I CALL IT A DAY.

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PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE

Dr Koh Kim Seng’s (Pharmacy ’64) attitude in life is “The more I live, the more I learn”. The septuagenarian earned his PhD at the age of 71 . BY YEO ZHI QI

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hen you hear that someone is 74, you would think of a retiree taking things easy: reading the dailies, engaging in coffeeshop conversations, taking evening walks or devoting time to a favourite hobby. Dr Koh Kim Seng busts this stereotype completely – he obtained his PhD in South-East Asian studies at the National University of Singapore in 2010, when he was 71. He had completed his Master degree in 2004. But then again, you could say learning is Dr Koh’s favourite hobby – although he makes light of his academic achievements. Asked why he decided to pursue a doctorate at this time of his life, Dr Koh shrugs and answers with a laugh. “I don’t know why,” he says, pointing to his head. “There’s nothing in here.” A witty and unpretentious gentleman, Dr Koh – a pharmacist by training – takes a light-hearted approach to life. Further probing reveals his deep interest in geopolitical strategies. While few people may have much interest in as yet under-developed Myanmar – viewed as a country ruled

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by an authoritarian military regime – it is a place that intrigues Dr Koh. Motivated by his deep sense of curiosity, Dr Koh tasked himself to uncover and illuminate its political culture. As the Managing Director of the Mandalay Swan Hotel located in central Myanmar, the businessman tapped on his social network to gain access to the thoughts and opinions of Myanmar’s top political leaders. He then decided that his PhD dissertation would be a platform for the country’s most influential persons to voice their thoughts. Living by his mantra that “whatever you want to do, you must be the best [at it]”, Dr Koh did not allow his business to affect his research. He would wake up at 3am to write his thesis. “I was studying fulltime and concurrently running my business full-time. My professors were shocked when they found out I was also managing a hotel on the side,” he lets on. Despite his hectic schedEveryday scenes in Myanmar, a ule, Dr Koh pulled it off. His country that intrigues Dr Koh.

Dr Koh Kim Seng

Main photo by Wilson Pang; Myanmar photos Getty Images

LIFELONG LEARNING

I WAS STUDYING FULL-TIME AND CONCURRENTLY RUNNING MY BUSINESS FULL-TIME. MY PROFESSORS WERE SHOCKED WHEN THEY FOUND OUT I WAS ALSO MANAGING A HOTEL ON THE SIDE.

hard-earned thesis, Misunderstood Myanmar: An Introspective study of a Southeast Asian State in Transition may be heavy with references to political theory and other scholarly studies, but it definitely offers a rare and insightful read into Myanmar’s political scene. Politics appears to be a topic close to Dr Koh’s heart. Myanmar is not his only passion; he is also very much in touch with the local political scene, and will happily expound his views on a wide range of issues, from the results of the Punggol byelection to policy announcements on the tightened foreign manpower. On the topic of the new generation of political leaders in Singapore, Dr Koh comments, “The previous government has a distinct advantage. The electorate of today is far more exposed, literate and opinionated, and that is an additional challenge that the government has to deal with, on top of everything else.” He adds, “The fundamental flaw of democracy is that it depends on the strength of numbers. However, the strength of numbers

adds nothing to wisdom and the problem with Singaporeans today is that they are too pampered. They may not realise the struggle of our existence.” While some regard Dr Koh as a learned scholar or a highly successful businessman, those close to him label him a romantic. The theme of the ‘swan’ runs through various objects in his life, from the name of his hotel to the decorative furnishing in his house. With a big grin, Dr Koh explains, “My wife’s surname is Swan and I named them all after her.” His still-heavy schedule poses little hindrance to a balanced and healthy life. Dr Koh juggles his time ably among his hotel business, his research, his family and his fitness. The former school representative in sports like hockey and cricket keeps himself active through regular swimming. Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young”. Dr Koh is living proof of this – his self-motivated and ongoing pursuit for knowledge is an inspiration to anyone interested in living long and meaningfully. APR–JUN 2013

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U@LIVE

ONE SPEAKER. 10 MINUTES. BOUNDLESS INSPIRATION. U@live is our monthly guest speaker series that showcases NUS alumni who have a passion for making a difference. Hosted by Alumni Advisory Board member and veteran TV presenter Mr Viswa Sadasivan (Arts and Social Sciences ‘83) at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House, the one-hour session is also streamed live on the U@live website. To register for future U@live events, visit www.nus.edu.sg/ualive.

“That’s where they get a deeper understanding of social values at work and how they themselves would react.” Along with this is the need to help students develop a sense of introspection, and an understanding of who they are, and why they behave in certain ways under certain circumstances. By becoming aware of his or her value-laden assumptions and judgments, an individual makes the first step towards working out an appropriate way to behave in a given situation. After all, while there are universal moral values such as honesty and integrity, many others vary according to culture or social norms, Prof Tan said. To give an example of how NUS hopes to imbue a sense of critical thinking and good judgment, he spoke of the NUS University Town residential colleges organising discussions in seminar-style settings, where students from different disciplines and socioeconomic backgrounds research and discuss issues.

WE NEED A DIVERSE COMMUNITY; A DIVERSITY OF BACKGROUNDS AND VIEWS SO THAT WE’LL HAVE INDIVIDUALS WHO CAN SHARE VIEWS THAT LEAD TO THE ‘A-HA’ MOMENT.

Prof Tan Chorh Chuan (Medicine ’83)

NURTURING CRITICAL MINDS NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan shares the key elements of nurturing critical thinking among students. “ARE WE READY FOR THE FUTURE?”

With that thought-provoking question, NUS President, Professor Tan Chorh Chuan opened his speech on how a tertiary institution like NUS should equip itself in building critical minds for the future. One key criterion of a critical mind, said Prof Tan, is the ability to make sense out of complex, seemingly messy data, and this requires one to have a strong knowledge base. 28

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Thus, the easy availability of information on the Internet nowadays does not diminish the importance of building up a knowledge base in order to interpret, curate and make sense out of raw data for the purpose of developing better solutions, he said. In turn, the ability to make sense of data requires the individual to have a zoom-out/zoom-in capability, said Prof Tan. To be able to “zoom out” is to have the capacity to see the big picture and identify connections between cross-disciplinary information, and to understand how each piece of the puzzle interacts with others to

affect possible solutions. To “zoom in” is to go beneath the surface of a topic and selectively sift out relevant information to add to the big picture. “Just because you can use Google well does not mean you are smarter than your teacher,” said Prof Tan to the capacity crowd. “Understanding a topic requires a much broader appreciation of diverse information. Having a ‘scaffolding of knowledge’ is important, so that as new things come up, you know how to categorise and interpret them to see how they connect to your existing base of knowledge.”

On the other hand, critical thinking is not just a matter of intellectual analysis but having an openness to ideas and a sense of imagination, to perceive different possibilities and outcomes from current data. That, he said, “will drive creative change for the future”. Initiating a more concerted approach to develop critical thinking among students, however, will require a systemic change in the whole culture of formal learning, which includes re-thinking the dynamic between teacher and student. “It’s not only the student who has to change his or her mindset; the teacher has to move away from the ‘sage on the stage’ stance of merely projecting knowledge to become ‘guide posts’ for students , who in turn have to learn not just to be passive receptacles but actively engage the learning material before them,” explained Prof Tan. He also addressed the urgency of imparting moral values, not as a direct part of the education syllabus, but by creating opportunities for students to engage their communities. Acknowledging that while there exists a universal set of values such as honesty and integrity, much, he reiterated, cannot be taught from a textbook. “It’s only through community engagement that students come across real world issues, and come back and talk about it with their peers and teachers,” noted Prof Tan.

Prof Tan in conversation with Dr Koh Kim Seng (Pharmacy ‘64).

“We need a diverse community; a diversity of backgrounds and views so that we’ll have individuals who can share views that lead to the ‘a-ha’ moment. So first we need to have the diversity, and bring that diversity into dialogue around issues,” said Prof Tan. “Within NUS, our philosophy is to create an environment with different pathways so that students can selfselect and explore, and in the process, find and develop themselves, not just in terms of their mind but their persons.” BY YONG YUNG SHIN PROF TAN SPOKE ON 21 JANUARY 2013.

Prof Tan addressed a capacity crowd. APR–JUN 2013

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U@LIVE Mr Tan Bee Thiam (Engineering ’04)

TALKING MOVIES

U@live is a monthly

Chong Siak Ching

The importance of saving, exploring and sharing the art of Asian cinema. THE FIRST SHORT FILM Tan Bee Thiam

ever made was to raise funds for medical treatment for his friend, Cyrus Yap, a Filipino student who fell ill while studying at the National University of Singapore. The video showed Mr Yap’s journey and experiences while undergoing treatment for cancer; he eventually returned to his family in the Philippines. “That was my first experience with what a movie can do, the power of an image. When things pass, what’s the value of the image for those left behind?” asked Mr Tan, a film historian and filmmaker who founded the non-governmental organisation Asian Film Archive (AFA) after graduation to “save, explore and share the art of Asian cinema”. The idea came after he discovered that many films made by independent filmmakers had not been properly archived. Over time, these works would get “lost”, inaccessible to those who want to view them. “There may be The Dark Knight Rises, [the] Avengers, but only we Singaporeans can tell our own stories. Other people should, and would, not be able to tell the stories we want to tell in our own way. “It’s not the same as a Singapore story commissioned by an overseas broadcaster, telling stories which are different from what we feel,” explained Mr Tan, highlighting the importance of preserving local film heritage. Within its first three years, the AFA had succeeded at collecting almost 80 percent “of all existing 35mm feature films made in Singapore, dating back to the 50s”. For Mr Tan, the term ‘archiving’ does not only denote the act of collecting and preserving the film itself, but protecting the intent and vision 30

ALUMNUS

7:30PM, 24 APRIL 2013

speaker series that

(Design and Environment, ’81 & Business, ’91) Member, NUS Board of Trustees

showcases outstanding

*OPLM,_LJ\[P]L6MÄJLY The National Art Gallery, Singapore

members of the NUS community. Apart from having a live audience,

THERE IS NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW TO MAKE FILMS IN SINGAPORE. behind the film. “As many filmmakers do not own the rights to their films, we have not been able to preserve the films properly,” he said. “[Staying true] to [the filmmaker’s] intention, for me, that’s archiving the real spirit of the film, where it is not cut by commercial bodies or the state.” He thus began to offer to produce films for many budding, first-time filmmakers on a pro bono basis, enabling them to own the rights to their work. His only request was that if the films make a profit, a donation would be made to the AFA. Apart from archiving, Mr Tan also set up the film collective, 13 Little Pictures, to create a forum and platform for the exchange of films and ideas with fellow filmmakers, and to trigger critical dialogue and discourse about the films being made. “A lot of people wonder if there is an audience for [the smart arthouse films]. My answer to them is ‘Of course!’ Oftentimes, society views

U@live will also be webcasted live through a Mr Tan highlighted the importance of preserving local film heritage.

these films by box-office numbers. If this is a great film, it is up to us to find an audience for them, maybe not immediately through a theatrical release but maybe over the next five or 10 years, in classrooms, in Singapore and abroad,” said Mr Tan. To date, 13 Little Pictures has made more than 15 feature and short films that have screened to international audiences in Rotterdam, Berlin, Vancouver and Tokyo, among others. “I think that there is no better time than now to make films in Singapore. Singapore, as we know, is in a state of transition – a lot of things are happening – and I am so gratified to find not just young people, but people in general, fighting for causes, to preserve our heritage, to fight for migrant workers’ and animals’ rights, for freedom of speech and expression. It’s a time when there are so many stories out there in society.”

dedicated website where

Ambassador Chan Heng Chee (Arts and Social Sciences, ’64 & ’74) Member, NUS Board of Trustees Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chairman, Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, Singapore University of Technology and Design

7:30PM, 26 JUNE 2013 Janet Ang

(Business, ’82) Managing Director, IBM Singapore

users can send in real time comments and questions directly to the speakers.

Reserve your seat now!

Attend the show live at Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet

OR

Join us Online!

www.nus.edu.sg/ualive

BY YONG YUNG SHIN

MR TAN SPOKE ON 27 FEBRUARY 2013.

7:30PM, 29 MAY 2013

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ALUMNI HAPPENINGS | GIVING

Dr Chew Beng Keng

TO HONOUR A TEACHER

Dr Chew Beng Keng (Medicine ’58) set up the Gordon Arthur Ransome Medal and Prizes in Internal Medicine to pass on the benefits he received.

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hat does one learn from a teacher? Not what is in the textbook but the personal wisdom of the teacher, says Dr Chew Beng Keng, who graduated from the University of Malaya, one of the precursors of the National University of Singapore (NUS). Dr Chew, who recently set up the Gordon Arthur Ransome Medal and Prizes in Internal Medicine at NUS’ Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, learnt much from Dr Gordon Arthur Ransome, whom he knew over a period of 25 years as a teacher and as a supervisor. Dr Chew says, “Dr Ransome was a gentleman. He was ethical, very helpful and led a life that was fully dedicated to his patients.” Dr Ransome came to Singapore

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Medicine, it is not only my hope that the younger medical students be reintroduced to Dr Ransome, but also that they will come to appreciate and honour the teachers who have made a difference in their lives,” says Dr Chew, who is a strong believer in the importance of a teacher’s role – one which he says is often forgotten. Dr Chew previously set up the Chew Beng Keng Bursary at NUS, which supports medical students. Born into a simple family of five children, he was the only one who studied beyond secondary school. Thanks to a life-changing gift in the form of a state scholarship, Dr Chew came to Singapore from Malaysia to study medicine. He forged life-long friendships during his stay at the Dunearn Road Hostel. “I feel very happy to be able to return what I received and I want to acknowledge those who gave to me. I give because helping these students gives me pleasure,” he says.

A STEADFAST BELIEF Shaw Foundation exemplifies the giving spirit with its unwavering support of NUS.

THANKFUL FOR AID Madangopal Narayanan, a Fourth Year medical student at NUS’ Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, is a recipient of the Chew Beng Keng Bursary. He says, “The financial aid given was really helpful both for me and my parents who work full-time at a non-profit, cultural organisation. It really has reduced some of the mental and emotional burden for us. When I received the Bursary, I was so thankful and felt relieved that things were taken care of.” Madangopal hopes to get into an Internal Medicine Residency course when he graduates.

in 1938 and devoted most of his life to patients and to teaching undergraduates and postgraduate doctors. One of the founders of the Academy of Medicine in Singapore, he was also Professor of Medicine in the then University of Singapore, before it became NUS. Dr Ransome laid the foundations of postgraduate medical training in Singapore and many of Singapore’s notable doctors trained under him. Such was the significance of his contributions to medicine in Singapore that the Academy created the ‘Gordon Arthur Ransome Oration’ to honour his life. “In setting up the Fourth Year Medical Student Madangopal Narayanan Gordon Arthur Ransome (far left) with his professor and classmates. Medal and Prizes in Internal

Dr Shaw Vee Meng

”T

he way to go forward for a country is to provide the right education to uplift human capital and to attract the right talents. For this same reason, we have a heart towards educational causes,” says well-known philanthropist Dr Shaw Vee Meng, Chairman of charitable organisation the Shaw Foundation. When the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Centre for Musical Activities (CMA) shifted to the University’s Kent Ridge campus in the early 1980s, the Shaw Foundation made a generous gift to fund the new premises, now known as the Runme Shaw CFA Studios. The gift was made in honour

For information on making a gift to NUS, contact us at 1800-DEVELOP (1800-338-3567) or email askdvo@ nus.edu.sg. If you have a story to share, please contact us at whatsyourstory@ nus.edu.sg.

of Tan Sri Dr Runme Shaw, who was the Chairman and Founder of the Shaw Organisation in Singapore. And since then, the Shaw Foundation has been steadfast in its belief in the value of an NUS education and unwavering in its support of the University’s many proDr Shaw Vee Meng, Chairman of grammes and initiatives. the Shaw Foundation From improved diagnosis of childhood diabetes Hospital, leading the operations of to the preservation of five frontline departments. Singapore’s natural history in the For Lau Shi Ting, a Third Year soon-to-be opened Lee Kong Chian student at NUS’ Faculty of Arts and Natural History Museum at NUS, and Social Sciences, the Scholarship has to student support, the Foundation’s allowed her to focus on her studies, gifts have left a lasting impact bringing her one step closer to realison many lives and areas across ing her dream of pursuing a career the University. in Psychology. She says, “The Shaw Since 1987, the Foundation has Foundation Scholarship has helped awarded some 240 scholarships to lessen the financial pressure on to deserving students at NUS in my parents without my having to recognition of academic excellence. contemplate part-time work. It has Dr Daniel Lee Hsien Chieh enabled me to focus my efforts on (Medicine ’04), a recipient of the performing academically. For this, I am truly grateful.” NUS’ vast and distinguished alumni network has also benefited from the Shaw Foundation’s generosity. Thanks to a S$10 million gift from the Foundation, the Shaw Foundation Alumni House (SFAH) was established in 2009. Dr Shaw describes the SFAH as “a platform for alumni to come back, to meet, to discuss and contribute to future improvements to the University”. The SFAH hosts many events – Lau Shi Ting, a Third Year Arts student and Shaw Foundation Scholarship recipient. film forums, appreciation lunches, alumni networking sessions – for alumni as well as students, staff Shaw Foundation Scholarship and faculty. says, “I am thankful for the Shaw “With the SFAH, we wish to Foundation Scholarship. As a stuinstil a spirit of belonging to the dent, this award helped defray part of University. In order to inspire the the costs of my textbooks and medinext generation to give, one will have cal equipment that were expensive to set a living example for them to but very important in the course of follow and also educate them on the my studies. The generosity of our importance of giving back to society,” donors touched me.” Dr Lee went says Dr Shaw. on to complete a Master of Public Health course at Harvard University, Dr Shaw Vee Meng was conferred the US, with the Fulbright Scholarship. Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by He is now Assistant Director of NUS in 2003. Operations at Changi General

THE WAY TO GO FORWARD FOR A COUNTRY IS TO PROVIDE THE RIGHT EDUCATION TO UPLIFT HUMAN CAPITAL AND TO ATTRACT THE RIGHT TALENTS.

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ALUMNI HAPPENINGS | EVENTS

BOWLED OVER

RUNNING FOR A GOOD CAUSE The third edition of the annual Bizad Charity Run on 12 January 2013 raised a record S$175,000 for its beneficiaries, an increase of 250 per cent compared to donations raised a year before. The charity run also featured the highest number of participants so far, with some 1,000 runners comprising alumni, students, staff, and faculty members as well as their families and friends. Organised by the NUS Business School Alumni

Association and supported by the Bizad Club, MBA AlumniNUS and NUS Business School Mandarin Alumni Association, the run was aimed at raising funds for those in need and promoting the spirit of giving back to the community. Bizad Charity Run 2013 featured a new 10 km competitive run in addition to the five km fun run organised in the previous two years. Participants from The New Charis Mission, which helps exdrug addicts and ex-offenders

reintegrate into society, also helped physically-disabled participants in wheelchairs to complete a special three km route. In the crowd was former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock, who took part with his wife. Some S$125,000 of the donations received will be used to fund five student bursaries, while S$50,000 will go to the Assumption Pathway School, Society for the Physically Disabled, and The New Charis Mission.

GAME ON AT KENT RIDGE Kent Ridge (KR) Hall Alumni Sports Day – now known as the KR Past vs Present Day – presented an excellent opportunity for both current and former residents of KR Hall to bond over their love of sports. Held on 22 December 2012 in the Sports and Recreation Centre, five different sports (Soccer, Touch Rugby, Handball, Basketball and Sepak Takraw) were played between the Alumni team and the current KR resident team in this annual affair; thus serving as a platform to foster strong 34

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relationships between KR alumni and current residents. With multiple games being played at various locations simultaneously, this made for an interesting weekend despite the inclement weather. It was also a time for former hall athletes to reminisce about their glory days as undergraduates.

KR Past vs Present Day saw alumni and current residents of KR come together for some friendly sporting competition.

On 27 January 2013, the Raffles Hall Association organised its first Bowling Tournament that brought together an enthusiastic crowd of Raffles Hall alumni and current residents. In his welcome speech, Mr Sonny Yuen (Business ’85), said such events serve as a platform for participants to meet old friends and strike up new friendships. Winners for the team event were Sim Chuen Nen (Engineering ’97), Yeow Joo Yun (Law ’97), Chin Mun Chung (School of Computing ’96), Leo Chin (Engineering ’97) and Chok Wee Sing (Engineering ’97). The Best Individual Bowler prize went to Mr Sim Chuen Nen (Engineering ’97). The Raffles Hall Association invites all Raffles Hall Alumni to stay connected. For more information, please contact Dr Rendy Tan at ilorthc@nus.edu.sg or Mr Leong Siew Teng at rfhlst@nus.edu.sg

FASS CAREER DAY 2013 The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), together with the NUS Career Centre, organised its first ever FASS Career Day 2013 on 21 February. Three separate events, involving 16 alumni speakers and mentors were lined up and attended by more than 160 students. The first event was ‘FASS Talk: Spotlight on Tourism and Hospitality’ where two alumni – Mr Kong Kum Hoong (Arts and Social Sciences ’94) and Mr Chanthirasekar Kalimuthu (Arts and Social Sciences ’08) – spoke about their work at Fullerton Heritage and the Singapore Tourism Board respectively. The students had many questions for the speakers after the talk, and these continued over lunch. On why he was eager to speak, Mr Kong explained: “I consider myself to have benefitted from a wellrounded education at FASS and having had enriching work experiences in

the tourism field, I am merely sharing these experiences with my juniors. I will be glad to do it again whenever the opportunity arises.” The talk was followed by ‘Winning Formula to a Great 1st Impression’, a hands-on makeup practice session in which consultants from Majolica (a Japanese cosmetics company) taught 21 students the finer points of grooming and personal health. They learnt that ‘putting their best face forward’ was an important part of any job interview. The Career Day ended with the ‘FASS Speed Mentoring Evening’ during which 14 alumni from different walks of life shared insights on their career fields and the soft skills needed to succeed. The alumni included Ms Sara Pereira (Arts and

FASS Speed Mentoring Session.

Social Sciences ‘96), presently working at Ogilvy & Mather; Mr Mark Ravindaran (Arts and Social Sciences ‘09), a game designer; and Ms Nicole Seah (Arts and Social Sciences ‘09), who works in an independent creative agency and is also active in the political scene. Students had an enriching evening chatting with as many alumni mentors they could over dinner and drinks. Year 3 Geography major Ms Flora Toh reflected: “What I found useful was how all the alumni made use of ‘people and thinking skills’ not only at work but also in the process of obtaining a job.”

BUILDING WELLS OF FRIENDSHIP A team of young alumni and postgraduate students from the NUS Volunteer Network Alumni Association visited the Na-Ang Primary School and Village in Hinheup District, Vientiane Province, Laos. From 14 to 23 December 2012, the team took part in construction work in the village by laying water pipes to connect newly-constructed wells to villagers’ homes. They also installed electrical fittings to better equip some of the houses, and conducted classes on nutrition, hygiene and simple handicrafts for the children. A mini games carnival was also held. With a few donated computers, the team set up the first ever computer lab in

the school and trained village teachers in basic IT skills. The team stayed with local host families, interacting closely with the villagers and gaining first-hand experience of Laotian village life. On the team’s last day, the villagers showed their appreciation by bestowing their blessings on them in an emotional and tearful Baci ceremony. Team members had embarked on the trip to make a difference to their host community, but returned with much more – a strong friendship forged with the people of Na-Ang Village and an experience that would remain meaningful for life. Samsudin Nordin (Science ‘12)

The team laying water pipes to connect wells to the villagers’ homes.

It was an eye-opener to be living in conditions so drastically different…After the very enriching trip, I came home humbled. Lim Teng Jin, a team member APR–JUN 2013

35


ALUMNI HAPPENINGS | REUNIONS

SPAN-ING THE YEARS A group of 90 University Scholars Programme (USP) alumni, students, faculty and administration staff gathered at Grand Park City Hall on 22 February 2013 for the annual Scholars Programme Alumni Network (SPAN) Get-Together. Held in conjunction with Chinese New Year, the event saw members of the close-knit USP community enjoying good company and good food while catching up with one another.

USP alumni

THE BENEFITS OF NETWORKING On 7 November 2012, NUS Engineering Alumni Singapore (EAS) organised a networking event at Switch@Timbre. Apart from mingling with fellow NUS Engineering alumni, participants were also able to network with fellow committee members of EAS who shared the benefits of joining EAS. Set in a casual environment, the event also reached out to the faculty’s younger alumni. A good mix of both Chinese and English music played by the in-house band provided entertainment for the participants.

EAS

HALLMARK EVENT Eusoffians from the 1989 to 1994 batches held a memorable 25th anniversary reunion dinner on 27 December 2012. Preceding the dinner was a tour of their beloved hostel Eusoff Hall. It was a splendid night of reminiscence and nostalgia.

36

ALUMNUS

A ‘LO HEI’ LUNCH WITH GUSTO Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences alumni, faculty members and staff came together for a ‘Lo Hei’ lunch on 15 February 2013, a day which coincided with the sixth day of Chinese New Year. The traditional ‘Lo Hei’ ritual, or tossing of the yusheng to invoke Chinese New Year blessings, was led by Dean Brenda Yeoh. With assistance from participants who were born in the Year of the Snake and two participants whose birthday fell on that day too, Dean Yeoh officially started the lunch by striking a gong. She also gave a presentation to alumni on the developments in the faculty. Alumnus Johnny Chee (’06) said that it was a pleasant surprise to “have an energetic Lo Hei starter, excellent Peranakan buffet and a live

FASS alumni

albino python that came with its own snake charmer”. More importantly, the event was an excellent opportunity to catch up with lecturers and friends.


ALUMNI HAPPENINGS | REUNIONS

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD! A group of about 90 medical alumni from the King Edward VII medical college (NUS) in Sepoy Lines reunited after 26 years since graduation. Alumni from five countries gathered at this third reunion that has been by far the largest and most successful. Those abroad made the special effort to fly into Singapore just for the reunion. Alumni shared

CLASS OF

’72

A Concert under the Stars…

MEDICAL CLASS OF

’86

photographs, sang songs and relived the years of medical training at the old Sepoy Lines campus. There was also a general resolution to hold the next reunion in 2016. Held on 16 February 2013, the gala buffet dinner and karaoke session took place at the Medical Alumni Building at Outram Road. Dr Raymond Wu Chong Kok (MBBS Class of ’86)

CLASS ACT OF REUNITING

For over two decades, the Class of ’72 has met at lunch to connect, reminisce, network, gossip, banter, sing, joke and whine about the past, present and future. Through their chief organisers Mano (Science), Archie (Arts), Jega (Arts), Alagiri (Business) and Navtej (Arts), they managed another major turnout of 80 persons for their annual New Year get

WELCOMING THE YEAR OF THE SNAKE More than 70 alumni and professors, including the Vice Dean, Associate Professor Susanna Leong turned up for the NUS Business School Mandarin Alumni’s Chinese New Year Luncheon on 23 February 2013. Held at Chui Huay Lim Teochew Cuisine, the luncheon began with the first dish of ‘Lao-Yu-Sheng’. Everyone participated in the tossing of the yusheng for good luck and prosperity in the New Year.

38

ALUMNUS

FIRST TIME FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING On 11 January 2013, about 60 alumni from the first five batches of B. Eng (Environmental), Faculty of Engineering gathered for the first time since their graduation, at the University Hall Auditorium, sharing their new experiences with one another. The event, which was organised by the department, allowed alumni to reaffirm their ties to their alma mater.

Alumni Day 2013 Kent Ridge Venue : University Town, NUS Date : 17 August 2013 (Saturday) Time : 5 pm onwards Come home to NUS for a party you won’t want to miss. Enjoy a full outdoor concert, UTown campus tours and exciting activities for both the young and old. Check out the newly-built Stephen Riady Centre NUS’ newest centre for sports, education and the arts!

together. The success of the lunch is measured by the many other seniors and juniors who attended the occasion. Held at the Guild House Bukit Timah campus on 5 January 2013, there were some surprise ‘guest artiste’ attendees – Dr Hira Singh (Medicine ’74) from Australia, Prof Mahbubani Kishore (Arts and Social Sciences ’71) who makes rare but valuable drop-ins, the past Presidents of the Guild House – Mr Johnny Tan (Science ’82) and Mr Anwarul Haque (Law ’64), as well as former NUS Board of Trustees Mr Wong Ah Long (Science ’68) and his wife. As usual under high ‘spirits’, everyone left with a bouyant feeling of having relived youthful years. Assoc Prof Victor Savage (Arts and Social Sciences ’72)

Business School Mandarin Alumni

Register your interest at nus.edu.sg/alumnet/event/KRAD2013DQGEHWKHðUVWWRUHFHLYHXSGDWHVDERXW$OXPQL'D\#.5 Follow our progress on our monthly Alumni eNewsletter.

Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nusoar


ALUMNI HAPPENINGS | OVERSEAS ALUMNI CHAPTERS

Tokyo

London Despite the freezing cold, 80 alumni and their spouses attended the annual NUS Alumni (UK) Lohei Dinner at Phoenix Gardens in Central London on 16 February 2013. Prominent among them were the Singapore High Commissioner, Mr T Jasudasen (Law ’75) and his wife. The atmosphere was convivial, with alumni connecting and catching up.

Jointly organised with another alumni group from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the Tokyo Alumni Chapter held a gathering for NUS alumni living in Tokyo on 16 November

2012. 28 members attended and some of these were Singaporeans working or studying in Tokyo. The chapter’s upcoming gathering in Tokyo has been scheduled for 19 April 2013.

Kuching This year, the Kuching Alumni Chapter’s Chinese New Year Reunion saw the largest group of participants comprising 23 alumni, four of whom had graduated in 2008 and 2009. The reunion was held on 12 February 2013.

Vancouver

Beijing Though it was 15°C outside, the warmth of old and new friendships rekindled and forged contributed to a cosy atmosphere as more than 100 NUS alumni met on 29 December 2012 for a dinner talk and reunion party. Attendees came from the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, Law, Science, Engineering, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the School of Design and Environment, the School of Computing and the NUS Business School. Singapore’s ambassador to China, alumnus Stanley Loh (Arts and Social Sciences ‘95) delivered the opening address while the economic and social development talk was given by alumnus Xu Lin (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy ’02), Director General Department of Development Planning. It was a joyous reunion for the Beijing alumni who gathered to celebrate the year gone by. 40

ALUMNUS

The NUS Alumni Association of Vancouver held a Christmas Alumni Reunion Dinner on 15 December 2012. Alumnus Kan Hoi Ming (Engineering ‘90) gave an interesting talk on ‘Ancient Ceramics of China’ and chairman Arthur Yap spoke about the real estate market in Vancouver. Alumni and guests sung Christmas carols and the dinner ended with everyone joining hands and singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. 30 guests turned up for the year-end reunion. Mr Arthur Yap (Arts & Social Sciences ’63) Chairperson, Vancouver Alumni Chapter

Auckland Alumni began 2013 wishing one another all the best for the new year at the Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner. It was an evening of traditional celebration and comradeship. Amid the festive mood, alumni observed a minute of silence in memory of Associate Professor Lim Meng Kin, the late Director of NUS’ Office of Alumni Relations. The Auckland Chapter looks forward to meeting up again, with the knowledge that each gathering signals an endorsement of alumni solidarity. Mr Ee Chiong Boon (Arts and Social Sciences ’82), Chairperson, Auckland Alumni Chapter

‘Walk the Gardens’ was the last formally organised event for the Auckland Chapter in 2012. The outing on 8 December 2012 was particularly enjoyable as alumni were treated to beautiful summer blooms. The

two-hour walk provided yet another opportunity for alumni bonding.

Upcoming events

SHORT STORY WRITING WORKSHOP This workshop will be conducted by the Senior Alumni Local Alumni Group (LAG) and facilitated by Mr Chua Joon Eng, Vice-President, Senior Alumni (LAG). Participants will explore the craft of the short story through reading short stories and analysing them with a focus on narrative technique, to understand ways in which writers address issues of theme, plot, character, place and voice. Participants will also be encouraged to write their own short stories. Dates: 6, 8, 10, 13 and 15 May 2013 Time: 2 pm to 5 pm Venue: Shaw Foundation Alumni House Fee: S$200 (for 5 sessions) Please register with Irene See at oarseei@nus.edu.sg if you are interested in attending. Payment by cheque is to be made out to Lim Bee Lum and mailed to the following address: National University of Singapore Office of Alumni Relations Shaw Foundation Alumni House 11 Kent Ridge Crescent Singapore 119244 Attention: Irene See

APR–JUN 2013

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CULTURE of an archive developed through his extensive work across the region since the late 1970s. Ongoing, NUS Museum

THE SUFI AND THE BEARDED MAN: REMEMBERING A KERAMAT IN CONTEMPORARY SINGAPORE

PLACES AND TIMES

A keramat (shrine) for a 19th century Sufi traveler to the region comes alive at this exhibition — the culmination of a two-year-long documentary project. Featuring photographs, material artefacts and personal histories, the exhibition puts forward new ways to consider our shared heritage. Until 2 June 2013, NUS Museum

Thought-provoking series of exhibitions on Kent RIdge Campus.

A showcase by six cutting edge contemporary artists from Japan, this is an exploration of transcultural collaboration. Featuring works by artists Makiko Koie, Fuyuki Yamakawa, Shun Sasa, Takayuki Yamamoto, SHIMURAbros (Yuka and Kentaro) and Motohiro Tomii. Until 21 April 2013, Lee Kong Chian Gallery, NUS Museum

TEXTURES, TONES & TIMBRES: ART OF CHONG FAHCHEONG Leading sculptor Chong Fahcheong reflects on his winding artistic journey and his process of interacting and negotiating with the natural environment and urban sprawl. This exhibition presents his recent works and explores his continuing fascination for materials and their potentials. Until 28 April 2013, NUS Museum

SCULPTING LIFE: THE NG ENG TENG COLLECTION Presented as an open storage and second in a series of permanent exhibitions on Ng Eng Teng, Sculpting Life brings together a range of works that facilitate a mapping of the artist’s history and his explorations. On display are early pieces completed during his formative years at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Singapore), Stoke-on-Trent College of Art (UK), and as a ceramic designer in Ireland from the late 1950s and 1960s; early explorations in ceramics and ciment fondu that foreground the mature phases of his practice; and seminal sculptural pieces that marked his importance among a generation of Singapore artists emerging during the period of the 1960s. Until 31 March 2014, NUS Museum 42

ALUMNUS

106 JOO CHIAT PLACE The Ng Eng Teng House, located at 106 Joo Chiat Place was also known as ‘Studio 106’. It was not only the home of the Singapore sculptor, but also his workplace until his passing Gallery in 2001. It was then turned impression, Ways of Seeing into a residency space for Chinese Art artists and later acquired by a developer. Architecturally known as a panggung and paintings gathered to represent the house, it was one of the remaining few expansive history of Chinese art. This of its kind in Singapore. This exhibition permanent display of Chinese Art focusserves as a laboratory that invites mules on Chinese ceramics and its developtiple readings and speculations, and fea- ment, categorising objects in relation to tures an accumulation of objects found centres of productions and periods. A and collected from the house, placed selection from the collection is featured alongside archival documentation relat- in Collecting Histories, presented within ing to and of the artist. Extended until the main gallery in open-storage format 30 June 2013, NUS Museum alongside ceramics collected by the then University of Malaya and University CHINESE ART COLLECTION of Singapore. FROM THE LEE KONG CHIAN Collecting Histories comprises MUSEUM Southeast Asian and Chinese ceramCOLLECTING HISTORIES ics sourced from the region and mostly SHERD LIBRARY acquired between 1955 and 1973 — a The Lee Kong Chian gallery features period significant in the development the Chinese Art Collection and Export of Southeast Asian art and ceramics as Ceramics from the Lee Kong Chian a field of study — led by the scholarship Museum. The permanent display is and research of the successive curators supplemented by ceramics from the of the University of Malaya Art Museum, South and Southeast Asian Collections Michael Sullivan (1955-1960) and and the archaeological collection of Dr William Willetts (1963-1973). John Miksic. These exhibits are comThe third permanent component to plemented by temporary exhibitions, the gallery is the Sherd Library, which conceived to engage the permanent presents a selection of archaeological collection critically. The Chinese Art materials from the collection of collection consists of bronzes, ceramics Dr John Miksic, a living accumulation Admission to all performances is free. • Unless stated otherwise, tickets are available at the door (on a first-come, first-served basis) one hour before showtime. • The audience capacity for the University Cultural Centre (UCC) Theatre is 400; each person in line may only collect two tickets.

BIOGRAPHY OF A PUBLIC SCULPTURE: SALVAGING AND CONSERVING

NUS Baba House

The murals Asian Symphony and Tropical Rhapsody were made by

Sculpting Life: The Ng Eng Teng Collection

The Sufi and the Bearded Man

Dressing The Baba

Ng Eng Teng for the Garden Hotel in 1971. Prior to the demolition of the hotel in 2010, the murals were salvaged and donated to NUS. This display of images and artefacts along the conservation corridor records the process of surveying, dismantling, and reinstalling the murals. Until 31 March 2014, NUS Museum

DRESSING THE BABA: RECENT DONATIONS OF PORTRAITS All information correct at time of print and is subject to change without prior notice. Please visit www.nus.edu.sg/cfa for updates.

YOUR VOICE IS MINE: JAPAN FOUNDATION AND NUS MUSEUM.

Gallery Impression, 106 Joo Chiat Place: The Ng Eng Teng House

Featuring a selection of late 19th to early 20th century portraits of individuals and couples from ethnic Chinese backgrounds, this display of recent donations surveys portraiture; its functions and the ideas it may convey. The exhibition complements ways of encountering the cultural histories of the Straits Chinese, explored through portraits and their proposed contexts. Until 31 July 2013, NUS Baba House

CAMPING AND TRAMPING THROUGH THE COLONIAL ARCHIVE: THE MUSEUM IN MALAYA

Camping and Tramping Through the Colonial Archive: The Museum in Malaya. Film stills, The Semai Tribe (circa. 1950s), Ivan Polunin Collection

Inspired by a 19th century document compiled by a British officer, this exhibition studies the institution of the museum in Malaya. It features writings and artefacts from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (NUS), Asian

Civilisations Museum, National Museum of Singapore, National Library Board Singapore, Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore National Archives, NUS Museum, and the Ivan Polunin and Mohammad Din Mohammad collections. Until 2 June 2013, NUS Museum

NUS MUSEUM

University Cultural Centre, 50 Kent Ridge Crescent, NUS, Singapore 119279 Tel: (65) 6516-8817 Email: museum@ nus.edu.sg Website: www.nus. edu.sg/museum

NUS BABA HOUSE

157 Neil Road, Singapore 088883 Tel: (65) 6227-5731 Email: babahouse @nus.edu.sg Website: http:// nus.edu.sg/ museum/baba

Visits by appointment only. Visitors are Opening hours required to sign are from 10am up in advance for to 7.30pm tours (offered (Tuesdays to on Mondays at Saturdays) 2pm, Tuesdays and 10am to 6pm at 6.30pm, (Sundays). Thursdays Admission is free. at 10am and Saturdays at 11am). Admission is free. APR–JUN 2013

43


CULTURE Your complimentary AlumNUS Card entitles you to a host of benefits and privileges!

NOTEPERFECT

NUS OFFICE OF ALUMNI RELATIONS

>>

Exciting musical moments brought to you by NUS’ Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. Esplanade Presents: Spectrum Series Conservatory New Music Ensemble

bookhaven 5% discount on books, stationeries, PC accessories and NUS logo items. FB: www.facebook.com/bookhavenUtown

ENS

Ens (Zen Circle) symbolises energy being focused yet with infinite variations, thus encapsulating the essence of the music presented in this concert. The chosen pieces share the concept of highly concentrated, undiffused contemplation of musical materials anchored by three continental classics of the 20th century, Boulez’s Memoriale, Lutosławski’s Chain 1 and Scelsi’s Pranam II. Young Thai composer Achittapol Tinnarat will make his Esplanade debut with his new work Compression, and Kawai Shiu will conduct the world premiere of his own work kör. 7.30pm, 14 April 2013 (Sunday), Esplanade Recital Studio, Tickets at S$20/S$15 from SISTIC

The University Club 25% discount off a la carte items for dine-in only. T: 6779-8919 W: www.theprivegroup.com.sg/tuc Zalora 8% discount off all regular priced items (promo code “ALUMNUS” at checkout) W: www.zalora.sg Lilliputt Indoor Mini Golf 10% discount off all regular-priced ticket and merchandise. W: www.lilliputt.com

Kawai Shiu

Conservatory Orchestra

Conservatory Chamber Singers The Conservatory Chamber Singers present Night Songs. Come enjoy a delightful evening of choral music with this enchanting collage of renaissance, romantic, and modern choral works, featuring Schubert’s Nachtgesang im Walde for male chorus and four horns, and Brahms’ Vier Gesänge for treble chorus, harp, and horns. 7.30pm, 16 April 2013 (Tuesday), Conservatory Concert Hall

Qian Zhou

CENTENNIAL RITES

Under the baton of Japanese conductor Eiji Oue, Conservatory Orchestra presents two revolutionary Russian works. Head of Strings, Qian Zhou leads the orchestra with sweet angelic melodies on the violin, portraying Prokofiev’s serene composure in times of political turmoil in Russia. Stravinsky’s 100-year-old masterpiece, The Rite of Spring, cuts through the ethereal atmosphere, its evocation of Spring’s flowering opening out into a programmatic account of a young maiden chosen as a sacrifice for the gods. Eiji Oue, a protégé of Leonard Bernstein, will also conduct Bernstein’s Candide Suite, arranged by Charlie Harmon for Oue in the final years of Bernstein’s life. 7.30pm, 18 April 2013 (Thursday), Esplanade Concert Hall, Tickets at S$15 from SISTIC 44

ALUMNUS

Eiji Oue

All information correct at time of print and is subject to change without prior notice. Please visit www.music.nus.edu.sg for updates.

NIGHT SONGS

Conservatory Orchestra Series

Get your AlumNUS Card at alumnet.nus.edu.sg/alumnuscard

Nanyang Optical • 30% discount: Frames & sunglasses of Exclusive House Brands. Enjoy additional 5% off house brand promotion packages (if any during point of purchase) • 20% discount: Frames & sunglasses of Other Brands (exclude Exclusive House Brands) • 20% discount: All Conventional contact lenses. • 10% discount: BigEyes2 bi-weekly disposable contact lenses (2-piece pack) Valid at over 12 stores and 2 franchise stores islandwide. W: www.nanyang.com.sg Intune Music 10% discount off regular course fees, and waiver of registration and materials fees worth S$30 (one-time fee) W: www.intunemusic.com.sg First Kick Academy Complimentary 1 session and enjoy S$40 off Registration Fee with new package sign-up. W: www.fka.sg The ARK • Special booking rates for Off-Peak hours at S$50 / 2 hours (9am – 6pm daily) • Free membership for first 50 sign-up (worth S$15 per year each) • Special booking rates for weekend rental at S$85 / 2 hours (9am – 11pm) • Special rate for use of ARK venues at Road Show / Mini Bazaar / Seminar / Workshop. W: www.theark.sg

Enjoy 25% discount off venue rates for event bookings at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House Venue booking: T 6516 7700 E sfahvenues@nus.edu.sg

Link Hotel Singapore • 20% discount off a-la carte food and beverage (excluding alcoholic beverages) • 15% discount off all alcoholic beverages (including bottles) • Complimentary slice of cake of the month for birthday treats (with minimum spending of S$30) W: www.linkhotel.com.sg Millennium & Copthorne International 10% discount off Best Available Rates (lead in category only) W: www.millenniumhotels.com.sg/campaigns/ nus-yearlong-privileges/ Beyond Beauty 1-for-1 promotion for you and friend at S$36! Choice of one of the following spa indulgence: • Face: Birds’ nest collagen facial (60 min, worth S$200) • Body: RF Fat Burner for one spot (20 min, worth S$300) • Spa: Premium Swedish massage (45 min, worth S$89) W: www.beyondbeauty.com.sg Fortis Wellness Centre Enjoy special rates for General Health Screening Packages and Specialized Health Screening Packages. By appointments only, please call +65 6933 3730. W: www.fortiscolorectalhospital.com/wellnessscreening The Manhattan FISH MARKET 10% discount off a la carte items for dine-in (The Star Vista and JCube only) W: www.manhattanfishmarket.com Indah Puri Golf Resort Enjoy 2D1N Amazing Golf Package and stay at Crown Vista Hotel at S$150 (Mon – Fri golfing) and S$175 (Sat, Sun PH golfing) W: www.indahpuri.com

Terms & conditions apply. The NUS Offi ce of Alumni Relations and the AlumNUS Card merchants reserve the right to amend the terms and conditions governing the offers at any time. All information is correct at press time. Visit www.nus.edu.sg/ alumnet for the latest privileges and promotions.


CLASS NOTES

MR TAN CHENG SIONG School of Design and Environment ’64 & ’72

1960s

Mr Tan Cheng Siong, Principal of Archurban Architects Planners, was one of the recipients of Singapore’s top design accolade – the President’s Design Award 2012. He was among the four designers who received the Designer of the Year award from Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam for his contributions to Singapore’s residential architecture. Mr Tan graduated with a Diploma in Architecture in 1964 and M.A. Urban Planning in 1972. He founded Archynamics Architects in 1967 and Archurban Architects Planners in 1974. His notable works include the iconic Pearl Bank Apartments, built in the late 1960s, which was the first super high-rise in Singapore; and Pandan Valley Condominium, where he pioneered the first condominium housing typology with community spaces for residents.

Dr George Soh believes in the potential of NUS’ Faculty of Dentistry (FoD). The orthodontist not only graduated from NUS; he spent almost 12 years teaching at the University. Now, to ensure that his alma mater continues to attract talented students, Dr Soh has made a gift to NUS to establish the George Y Soh Scholarship at FoD. The private specialist at L C Lien Dental Clinic says, “As a student, I received a good education and training which enabled me to be successful in my career. While I was a teaching faculty in NUS, I was given a lot of support for professional development and research which translated into many publications in international refereed journals and further enhanced my career. I would like to help young aspiring dentists experience

the same opportunities I received.” The George Y Soh Scholarship will support one academically-outstanding Final Year dental student. In the case that candidates have similar academic scores, the students’ financial situations will be considered. Dr Soh says, “With financial support, the recipient can focus on his or her studies, do well in the programme and go on to be successful in his or her career. I hope the recipient will in turn contribute another scholarship to the Faculty when he or she is able. In time to come, the FoD will be able to nurture and sustain a pool of talented individuals for our dental fraternity.” He adds, “As an alumnus, I will continue to explore how I can contribute to the success of NUS in general For information on and to the NUS making a gift to FoD in the years NUS, contact us at to come.”

1800-DEVELOP (1800338-3567) or email askdvo@nus.edu.sg. If you have a story to share, please contact us at whatsyourstory@ nus.edu.sg.

Pearl Bank Apartments, the first super high-rise in Singapore.

Dr George Soh has established The George Y Soh Scholarship, which will support one academicallyoutstanding Final Year dental student.

46

ALUMNUS

CHUA TIANHAO Arts and Social Sciences ’10

2010s

1980s

DR GEORGE SOH Dentistry ’80

The Economics training in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has equipped him with critical life skills and knowledge, says Mr Chua Tianhao. “This has served as a strong foundation for the continuous pursuit of knowledge and skills required in my unconventional career choices. “As a management consultant, I was involved in the intensive strategy development work for Fortune 500 companies and national government, before moving on to develop a travel startup, NomadAsia.” Mr Chua is currently also involved in various NUS mentorship programmes to help students increase their exposure to the corporate world.

APR–JUN 2013

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LAST WORD

Sustaining

GREEN

ALUMNI EVENTS

WRITE A POEM ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY, they

saidI pondered the seemingly easy request You can write about being green, they saidWhich green I asked myself, probingly Colours today masquerade meanings Lying too deep for simple sustenance. Sustainability?– is this maintanence? I museA continuing maintenance, an inner voice prompts The nub of the issue for most of us-deepWe don’t continue maintaining ourselves:

APRIL TO JUNE 2013

APRIL

Maintain/sustain. Sustain/maintain. MS/SM. We lose ourselves in words with no frames Frames with no words, no real appeal While out there, the destruction continues Unabated, unabashed, wild, roguish Enough sustainability for a whole millennium!

8pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Enquiries: Ms Valerie Vincent oarvpv@nus.edu.sg

4pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Enquiries: Ms Irene See irenesee@nus.edu.sg

24 APR (WED)

Feature Flicks: The Dark Knight Rises

7.30pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Enquiries: Ms Valerie Vincent oarvpv@nus.edu.sg

25 APR (THU)

Senior Alumni Tea and Chat 4pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Enquiries: Ms Irene See irenesee@nus.edu.sg

Feature Flicks: The Help 7.30pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Enquiries: Ms Veronica Au oarappv@nus.edu.sg

Sustainability – more than a big word More than continuing maintenance More than just talk and talk the walk More than research grants and books More than street protests and blind sit-downs More than plastic bags and plastic eyes-

MAY

29 MAY (WED)

U@live featuring Ambassador Chan Heng Chee

Sustainability – our gift to those unborn.

ALUMNUS

30 MAY (THU)

U@live featuring Ms Chong Siak Ching

From age to new age, from head to toe We stuff ourselves full of sustainability And yet at every corner, at every turn I see the earth starving, trees grieving And young kids collect dollars and cents To make us all green from our whites And browns and blacks and yellows and reds-

48

13 – 18 APR

The Canadian Film Forum 2013

I walk with head down, the clouds above Black as the nights of yore, here where Sustainability has never been a core concern, Pour bucket after bucket of heavy rain Which runs into the earth for a quick shelter.

7.30pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Enquiries: Ms Valerie Vincent oarvpv@nus.edu.sg Photo Corbis

ASSOC PROF KIRPAL SINGH Arts and Social Sciences ’72 February 2013

Dates to REMEMBER Senior Alumni Tea and Chat

7.30pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Enquiries: Ms Veronica Au oarappv@nus.edu.sg

JUNE

26 JUN (WED)

U@live featuring Ms Janet Ang 7.30pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Enquiries: Ms Valerie Vincent oarvpv@nus.edu.sg

27 JUN (THU)

Senior Alumni Tea and Chat 4pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Enquiries: Ms Irene See irenesee@nus.edu.sg

Feature Flicks: Rise of the Guardians 7.30pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Enquiries: Ms Veronica Au oarappv@nus.edu.sg


NUS AWARDS

ALUMNI

2013 The NUS Alumni Awards celebrate excellence.

Launched during the NUS Centennial Year in 2005, the biennial awards recognise and celebrate alumni who have made significant contributions to our alma mater and society at large. The achievements and contributions of our NUS Alumni Awards winners inspire us to make a difference in our own ways to the world around us.

CATEGORIES

Nominations for the NUS Alumni Awards 2013 will open from 1 February to 30 June. Visit this page for more information: http://alumnet.nus.edu.sg/alumniawards2013

Eminent Alumni Award Nominees must have distinguished themselves nationally and/or globally for their exceptional and sustained contributions and achievements in public or community service; in the arts, sports, culture or entrepreneurship; or in a profession or scholarly field.

Distinguished Alumni Service Awards Nominees must have distinguished themselves in rendering excellent and sustained volunteer service to NUS, its predecessor institutions and/or the alumni community.

Outstanding Young Alumni Awards Nominees (aged 40 and below) must have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields and/or rendered excellent volunteer service to NUS and/or the alumni community while exemplifying the best attributes of youth in today’s world.

The NUS Alumni Awards Statuette The statuette comprises a human figure and a globe.

The figure’s curvature is shaped according to the letters “NUS”. The legs are positioned to form the letter “N”, the head is shaped to form the letter “U” and the twisting body forms the letter “S”. The stylised figure depicts a people-centred NUS and represents the NUS community as one. The globe depicts NUS as a global knowledge enterprise. The globe and the figure emerge from steps symbolising the recipient’s pursuit of excellence.


NUS Alumni Office - AlumNUS Magazine 2013 April