ALUMNUS alumni magazine of The national university of singapore
OCTâ€“DEC 2013 // issue 95
Managing a Masterpiece
we Have reached for the skies but are our urban plans future-proof? NUS ALumni paint a picture
Contents Oct-Dec 2013 Issue 95
In The News
Road by Road, Brick by Brick
THE LONG TAIL OF SUCCESS
Once upon a Memory
DRIVEN BY DRAMA
20 Alumni Scene CSI OF THE MIND
A BOLD STROKE
24 Pursuit of Excellence IN FOR THE LONG HAUL 26 U@Live MS JANET ANG,
MR K SHANMUGAM, MR TAN MIN-LIANG
30 Alumni Happenings 42 Culture 46 Class Notes 48 Last Word
Photo of Mr Lee Kuan Yew (opposite): Corbis
27 There is always one mountain higher and there is always an opportunity to reach up further. Dr Mok Ying Ren
Advisor Assoc Prof Victor R Savage (Arts and Social Sciences ’72) Editor Karin Yeo (Arts and Social Sciences ’97) Publishing Consultant MediaCorp Pte Ltd
ALUMNUS ALUMNI MAGAZINE OF THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE
OCT–DEC 2013 // ISSUE 95
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Facebook: www.facebook.com/nusoar
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.
MANAGING A MASTERPIECE Cover OctDec 4.indd 1
WE HAVE REACHED FOR THE SKIES BUT ARE OUR URBAN PLANS FUTURE-PROOF? NUS ALUMNI PAINT A PICTURE
Art Direction: Augustine Tan Cover Illustration: Koh Hong Teng
9/20/13 4:06 PM
Dear Fellow Alumni and Friends, any of you were participants and witnesses to our commencement ceremonies which ran for over 10 days at our University Cultural Centre in July. For those of you who were not involved, I would like to draw your attention to the video shown of the ceremony in which an honorary doctorate was bestowed on the father of modern Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. This event capped this year’s commencement ceremonies because it was a fitting tribute to a person who has dedicated his whole life’s work to the development of Singapore and provided the institutional scaffolding for the development of our University through the decades. All NUS alumni proudly applaud Mr Lee’s honorary doctorate, more so because he was a student at Raffles All NUS alumni proudly College before going applaud Mr Lee’s honorary on to read Law in Cambridge University. doctorate, more so July and August are because he was a student important months at Raffles College before for the Office of Alumni Relations (OAR). On going on to read Law in 6 July we celebrated Cambridge University. ‘Alumni Day @ Bukit Timah Campus’ (BTC) – the home of many senior alumni before 1980. The event drew 900 alumni who were treated to dinner and entertainment in air-conditioned comfort. As one alumnus noted, it was “the coolest event”. With President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife as guests-of-honour, the event saw two anniversary celebrations: the 55th Anniversary of that ever ‘infamous Hall’, Eusoff College – where many senior male alumni will never forget the annual
panty raids – and the 50th Anniversary of those from the graduating class of 1963. True to their ever-youthful mischievous spirit, some of the ‘girls’ from Eusoff College wanted to sing the uncensored ‘Daisy Daisy’ in place of the birthday song. We were also glad to celebrate the 60th anniversary of three alumni from the Class of 1953, as well as the 61st anniversary of Professor Wang Gungwu’s graduation. On the other side of campus, more than 4,000 alumni turned up for ‘Alumni Day @ Kent Ridge’ – our Homecoming for alumni who studied in the Kent Ridge Campus. Held for the second year running at University Town, the event offered alumni a great variety of programmes, from a rock concert staged by several bands from our Halls of Residences, to kampung games for children, a screening of the popular movie ‘The Hobbit’, workshops, talks, mega cardboard sculpture exhibits, and Faculty and Departmental booths. We successfully launched our ‘NUS Alumni Breakfast Dialogue’ series for younger alumni on 30 August 2013, with Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam as guest speaker for our inaugural session at the Conrad Hotel (read more on page 4). The series continues under the Great Eastern Life co-sponsorship for the rest of 2013 and 2014 – please look out for it. In this last quarter of 2013, we move on with more kudos in store for alumni, rounding off the year with the ‘NUS Alumni Leaders Forum’ and the NUS Alumni Awards. Finally, I like to wish all our Hindu and Sikh alumni who celebrate the festival a Happy as well as spiritually enlightening Deepavali. To all our Christian alumni, may you have a Blessed Christmas filled with Love, Joy and Peace and to everyone may you enjoy a Peaceful 2014.
Assoc Prof Victor R Savage Director, NUS Office of Alumni Relations Arts and Social Sciences ’72
In The News
NUS continues to progress and our results suggest that securing a position in the world’s top 20 is only a matter of time.
NUS ranked Asia’s top university University rises to world’s 24th is placed among the top 10 for academic reputation.
NUS raised More than S$100m for education in honour of Lee Kuan Yew’s 90th Birthday
Rankings has all aspects of university placed NUS as activity, but they capfirst in Asia and ture the headline trends. 24th in the world. This year’s QS World This is a reflection University Rankings of our country’s identifies NUS as Asia’s strong support for leading institution on higher education the world stage. Despite and the ethos of operating in increascontinually seekingly competitive terriing excellence, tory, NUS continues to and hence is a very progress and our results positive developsuggest that securing a ment for the whole position in the world’s of Singapore. NUS top 20 is only a matter has strived to difof time. For an example Mr Ben Sowter, ferentiate itself as consistent strateHead of Research at QS of a global university gic development and centred in Asia implementation for a through educational innovation, mullarge, comprehensive university, both tidisciplinary research and strategic in terms of performance and recognipartnerships. We will continue to tion, look no further than NUS.” keep a sharp focus on nurturing and recruiting talented academics, staff and students, while providing a conducive environment for this thriving community to pioneer advances in education and research and its application that will have a strong positive impact on Singapore and society.” Mr Ben Sowter, Head of Research at QS, said, “Rankings cannot consider
Making a gift of learning in the name of Singapore’s founding father.
From left NUS President Prof Tan, NUS Chairman Mr Wong, Prime Minister Lee, SUTD Chairman Mr Philip Ng and SUTD President Prof Thomas Magnanti during the donor appreciation dinner.
In celebration of the 90th birthday of Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew this year, the National University of Singapore
Illustration Shutterstock; Photo of Conservatory Orchestra Muhammad Firdauz
he National University of Singapore (NUS) has emerged as the top university in Asia in the 2013/2014 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. The University was placed 24th in the rankings, moving up a spot from its 25th placing last year. The QS World University Rankings evaluates over 800 universities in the world based on academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty, faculty student ratio, and proportions of international students and international faculty. NUS has been placed 9th in the world for academic reputation, and 16th for employer reputation. The University improved significantly in the number of research papers published and citations generated. Its faculty areas were placed as follows: Arts & Humanities (17), Engineering & Technology (7), Life Sciences & Medicine (27), Natural Sciences (11) and Social Sciences & Management (9). NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan said, “We are pleased that the latest QS World University
(NUS) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design have raised gifts amounting to more than S$100 million each for educational initiatives.
Education has always been Mr Lee’s key priority, noted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who spoke during the donor appreciation dinner on
3 September 2013 at the Istana. “Personally, he has been an ardent student learning new skills even into old age, wrestling with Microsoft Word and other challenges of the computer age,” said Prime Minister Lee, who thanked the donors for their generous spirit and the two universities for raising funds. The donations will be matched by the government. A portion of the S$100 million raised by NUS will go towards supporting bursaries, scholarships and study
awards. A Lee Kuan Yew Endowed Fund has been set up, offering bursaries for financially needy students. Financial assistance provided to such students in the University will increase as the fund grows over time. Expressing his appreciation for the funds raised to date, NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan said: “The NUS community and our generous donors are delighted and honoured to be able to mark Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s 90th birthday in such a meaningful way.” “These bursaries and the programmes enabled by the generous gifts will help us to preserve and commemorate Mr Lee’s remarkable contributions towards education which have benefitted many generations of Singaporeans,” he added.
10th Anniversary Celebration for the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music A gala event that hit all the right notes. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM) held a concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 4 September 2013. The evening’s programme featured renowned guest conductor Mr Robert Spano, Ong Teng Cheong Professor of Music 2013/2014. Mr Spano led the Conservatory Orchestra in Jean Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony. The evening also saw Professor Thomas Hecht, Head of Piano at the YSTCM playing Brahms’ virtuosic and majestic 2nd piano concerto. Prof Hecht chose to showcase Brahms again for his solo encore, performing the ‘Edward’ Ballade (Op. 10 No. 1) to rousing applause. President of Singapore and NUS Chancellor Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam and
Mrs Mary Tan were the Guests-of-Honour at the Conservatory’s 10th Anniversary Celebration Concert. The event was also attended by former Chief Justice Mr Yong Pung How; Mr Wong Ngit Liong, Chairman Mr Robert Spano leading the Conservatory of the NUS Board of Orchestra in Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony. Trustees; Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, embassies, music teachers, and members NUS President; Mr Goh Yew Lin, Chairman from the NUS community. of the Conservatory’s Governing Board; and The concert was part of the former John Hopkins University President Conservatory’s series of events to celebrate Dr William Brody. Other distinguished guests the inauguration of the first music included donors, prominent members of conservatory in Singapore in 2003. the arts community, representatives from OCT–DEC 2013
In The News
A Testament of Friendship
On the Bookshelves
UM-NUS Inter-University Tunku-Chancellor Golf Tournament.
In 1967, the idea of a golf tournament for the academic staff of NUS and the University of Malaya (UM), for the purpose of fellowship and deeper ties, was mooted. Hosted alternately by UM and NUS, the ‘UM-NUS Inter-University Tunku-Chancellor Golf Tournament’ is an expression of the strong relationship between senior leaders of both universities. It is indeed heartwarming that, after four decades, the event is still going strong. This year, the annual UM-NUS Golf Tournament was hosted by UM at Ipoh, Perak, on 11 to 13 June 2013. More than 100 golfers from UM and NUS took part in this two-day event, held at the Meru Valley Golf Resort on the first day and the Royal Perak Golf Club on the second day. The Guests-of-Honor were the President of Singapore and NUS Chancellor, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam and His Royal Highness Dr Raja Nazrin Shah, the Raja Muda (Crown Prince) of the
The Tommy Koh Reader
State of Perak Darul Ridzuan, Malaysia, who is also the UM Pro-Chancellor. Also present were NUS ProChancellor, Mr Po’ad Mattar (Accountancy ’71); NUS President, Professor Tan Chorh Chuan (Medicine ’83); UM Vice-Chancellor, Tan Sri Dr Ghauth Jasmon; member of the NUS Board of Trustees, Mr Phillip Tan; Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (Engineering ’80); Singapore’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, HE Ong Keng Yong (Law ’79); Singapore’s Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda, Mr Yatiman Yusof (Arts and Social Sciences ’72); and Singapore’s Ambassador to Kuwait, Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed (Arts and Social Sciences ’71). Despite the UM contingent winning the 2013 Cup, both universities emerged winners in extending friendships and deepening relationships.
Favourite Essays and Lectures by Tommy Koh (Ambassador-at-Large, Singapore)
As a renowned and celebrated public figure, Professor Tommy Koh is recognised for his meritorious public service and achievements, and has been conferred many honours both locally and internationally, including the recent “Harvard’s Great Negotiator Award 2014”. His book, The Tommy Koh Reader, is a rich collection of Professor Koh’s favourite essays and lectures, and provides insights into his illustrious academic and diplomatic career. It includes photographs and essays on diplomacy and international law, art, culture, heritage, nature and environmental issues. The ASEANAREAN Expeditions Series
MARINE PARKS OF INDONESIA
Breakfast with a twist A lively dialogue session that puts a spin on ‘food for thought’.
In its diverse and numerous alumni engagement efforts, the NUS Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) looks for interesting and meaningful initiatives to bring together NUS alumni and strengthen the NUS community. On 30 August 2013, one such new initiative was launched. Titled
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam (left) addressing alumni at the inaugural ‘NUS Alumni Breakfast Dialogue’ session.
the ‘NUS Alumni Breakfast Dialogue’, the inaugural session was graced by guest speaker Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister for Finance. The event kickstarted with a networking-breakfast session, followed by an interactive dialogue session between DPM Tharman, NUS alumni and students, moderated by Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP). Questions posed to the Minister that morning included global issues such as the sudden outflows of funds from emerging markets and the crisis in the Middle East, and local issues ranging from active citizenry, winning the
Published by World Scientific, The Tommy Koh Reader will be officially launched on 30 October 2013 and made available at all major bookshops. For more information, visit http://www.worldscientific.com/ worldscibooks/10.1142/8999
hearts and minds of the middle-class, and what Singapore will be like in the future. The Minister also addressed questions on education, inequality and an ageing population, saying that the interests of the middle-class, the lower income groups and elderly were at the core of the government’s economic and social policies. He emphasised, “A distinctive feature of Singapore society has to be that everyone has a chance – if you start off with less, we give you a leg up and help you do as best as you can.” Close to 180 participants turned up, including VIP guests like NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan; NUS Board of Trustees member Mr Edward D’Silva; President of the Yale-NUS College, Professor Lewis Pericles; one of NUS’ Founding
Benefactors, Mr Yeo Keng Joon; and members of the NUS Alumni Advisory Board. The event also attracted a number of postgraduates and undergraduates from the LKYSPP, the Faculty of Law and the NUS Business School. The inaugural ‘NUS Alumni Breakfast Dialogue’ was held at the Conrad Centennial Singapore.
TALK IT OUT A new initiative to engage NUS alumni in middle and senior management, the ‘NUS Alumni Breakfast Dialogue’ seeks to create a platform for critical thinking and exchange of ideas by experts in their respective fields of profession. Through this dialogue, OAR hopes for its speakers to inspire NUS alumni to be leaders of the future. For more information about the initiative, contact Shushan at 6516 6428 or Shushan@nus.edu.sg
L M Chou
University of Malaya 1949 to 1985 // Written by
Marine Parks in Indonesia // In this richly
Singapore Street Names // Into its 3rd
Lim Chung Tat, Registrar of the University of Malaya from 1967 – 1985, this book charts the establishment, development and growth of the University of Malaya from 1949 to 1985, with special reference to the University in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The latter was the only University in Malaysia up to 1968. It began as the Kuala Lumpur campus of the former University of Malaya in mid-1957. In January 1959, the former University was reconstituted as a University with two equal and autonomous divisions, one in Singapore under the name of ‘University of Malaya in Singapore’ and the other in Kuala Lumpur under the name of ‘University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur’. On 1 January 1962, the University was split into two separate national universities. The division in Singapore became the ‘University of Singapore’ (now the National University of Singapore). The division in Malaya retained the name of ‘University of Malaya’ or ‘UM’, becoming the national University of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (Federation of Malaya).
varied book Patricia Seward, in conjunction with Professor Chou Loke Ming (Zoology ’69), recounts the story of an extraordinary expedition through the vast Indonesian archipelago to visit Indonesia’s Marine Parks. The second in the ‘Aseanarean’ series of expeditions conceived and mounted by Francis Lee (Law ’70), this expedition comprised three small boats which sailed 4,500 nautical miles in the course of their travels from one park to another. The book gives a highly accessible account of where the parks are and what is to be found in each one. It is comprehensively illustrated by photographs of above and underwater scenes. A wealth of marine, biological and geological information is presented in a compact form, creating a well-balanced account for both the arm-chair tourist and the serious amateur naturalist. Marine Parks of Indonesia will find a home both on the coffee table and on any boat destined for exceptional adventures in remote Indonesian waters.
reprint, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics is the definitive guide to place names in Singapore. Discover the origins, meanings and alternative names in the local languages as well as the fascinating stories of Singapore’s pioneers, landowners and community leaders. Written by alumnus Professor Victor R Savage (Arts and Social Sciences ’72) and Professor Brenda S A Yeoh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the book is a fascinating publication that contains nuggets of information and insights into Singapore’s landscape and history. The 3rd edition features interviews with many Singaporeans who are descendants of the people after whom the roads and places have been named.
In The News
Bukit Timah Alumni Day
A celebration of good times and fond memories. Every year, the bukit timah campus (BTC) plays witness to such strong emotions and this year was no exception. On 6 July 2013, around 900 alumni who graduated from the BTC turned up for the annual ‘Alumni Day @ BTC’ event. Guests-of-honour Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of Singapore and NUS Chancellor, and Mrs Mary Tan graced the event with their presence. Other distinguished guests included Mr Wong Ngit Leong, Chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees; Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President; Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost; NUS Board of Trustees
members, NUS Alumni Advisory Board members; Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) and Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of the Faculty of Law. Alumni spent an evening catching up with old friends in airconditioned comfort and were entertained with songs and good food. The event saw the 55th Anniversary Celebration of Eusoff College as well as the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Class of 1963. The event was organised by the NUS Office of Alumni Relations in collaboration with the LKYSPP and Faculty of Law.
The Bukit Timah Campus (BTC) is unique and special because of the prominent place it holds in our University’s collective memory. Indeed, few places evoke such strong emotions among our alumni. Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President
ALUMNI DAY @ Kent Ridge Serving up a hearty dose of fun on campus. Rock concerts, career workshops, movie screenings, photography workshops, kampung play, children’s activities, faculty booths and walking tours were the order of the day for the NUS community of alumni, students and faculty who came together on 17 August 2013 for the ever-popular annual ‘Alumni Day @ Kent Ridge’. The action unfolded on the greens of the NUS University Town, beginning with workshops and a movie screening of The Hobbit for alumni and culminating in a rock
concert with performances by various student bands. A total of 2,750 participants attended the event that lasted until late into the night. Guestof-honour Mr Wong Ngit Leong, Chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees; NUS senior management Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President; Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost; Professor Tan Tai Yong, Vice Provost (Student Life); and distinguished guests joined in the fun and action.
There was something for everyone at ‘Alumni Day @ Kent Ridge’.
hat corner coffee shop where Granddad drinks his kopi and chats with the neighbours. The bus stop where Junior and his friends take the bus to school. Everyday elements like these that most of us take for granted are the product of meticulous urban planning that in turn, have moulded the Singaporean way of life. The move to transform Singapore into a green metropolis started 55 years ago, with the approval of the 1958 master plan. Since then, detailed planning and execution, from the way we commute to work to the precinct boundaries that shape our neighbourhoods, have meant that Singapore – once a town ridden with slums – is now ranked one of the world’s most liveable cities. And it was all achieved well within an average lifetime. Homage must be paid to the urban planners, architects, landscape and interior designers – many among them National University of Singapore (NUS) faculty and alumni – that are working to, literally, build a better country.
TEXT By koh yuen lin illustrations by koh hong teng
From slums to global city in five decades.
Early urban planning projects included building roads to outlying areas.
ormal urban development started in 1822 when the founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, set up a Town Planning Committee led by Lieutenant Philip Jackson. In the Plan of the Town of Singapore, better-known as The Jackson Plan, residential areas were carved out for the various ethnic groups – Little India for Indian immigrants and Chinatown for the Chinese, for example – and administrative and commercial districts were identified. The Commercial Square – later renamed Raffles Place – together with European Town around Purvis Street and Liang Seah Street would become today’s Central Business District (CBD). Apart from developing these core areas and bringing to the landscape some outstanding architecture – such as the Armenian Church on Hill Street – the early plans created a skeleton for urban transport planning. In The Journey – Singapore’s Land Transport Story I, author Ilsa Sharp writes: “Early road-builders followed the same east-west and north-south priorities that would later preoccupy their 20th century counterparts designing the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines in the 1980s: they had already laid Geylang Road up to Changi Point and Pasir Panjang Road to Jurong River by 1842, and Bukit Timah Road all the way to Kranji by 1845.” So even though outlying areas like Jurong and Kranji were sparsely populated, roads were built there early on. But while early city planning for Singapore
looked tidy on paper, with the areas laid out neatly in a grid, the reality was not so pretty. In 1871, the first census indicated a population of just 97,000 persons. By 1901, it was over 220,000. The population was increasing rapidly, but the city was being developed at a much slower pace. The Public Works Department (PWD) was set up in 1872, but progress was languid. For example, just 340 kilometres of public roads were built by 1920. This changed in the 1950s. The optimism of independence propelled the PWD to undertake several major works such as the Kim Seng Bridge and Nicoll Highway. Increasing car ownership in subsequent decades necessitated a highway network, leading to the construction of the Pan-Island Expressway, East Coast Parkway (ECP) and Central Expressway. In the 21st century, with the view to diverting traffic arteries away from the prime land of the city centre, developments are still underway, such as the construction of the underwater Marina Coastal Expressway linking the ECP in the east to the Ayer Rajah Expressway in the west. By 2030, the road network will have expanded by 44 per cent since 1991. By the early 1970s, planners already knew that the long-term solution to easing congestion lay not in the building of more roads. Apart from regulating the number of cars on the roads, it would also be necessary to expand the public transport network beyond bus services. Mr Lim Leong Geok, former Executive Director of MRT Corporation, is widely credited with the tireless research and lobbying that convinced the Government to approve the S$5 billion budget for the MRT system that was launched in November 1987. Because of the MRT, the country has became ‘smaller’. Today, two million people use the MRT daily, and this is set to double. With some S$60 billion invested in its continual enhancement and expansion over the next ten years, the MRT system will cover 280km by 2021, up from 67km in 1996.
s Singapore’s population expanded in the early 20th century, a shortage of dwellings meant that living conditions for many were dire. In 1927, the colonial government set up the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) to address issues of overcrowding and poor sanitation. The first apartments – still seen today in Tiong Bahru – were built in the 1930s. But SIT’s influence was limited. World War II left many buildings destroyed, and housing problems escalated, with 25 per cent of the population crammed into just one per cent of the island’s land area as a result. In 1960, the newly-elected People’s Action Party set up the Housing Development Board (HDB) to replace the SIT. Then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had a vision of a homeowning society. He felt that “if every family owned its home, the country would be more stable”. HDB took on the mammoth task of rehoming over a million people living in squatter colonies, and by 1970, it had largely solved the housing problem. HDB created 52,842 housing units between 1960 and 1964, and a million more in the five decades since then. These flats, which are home to more than 80 per cent of Singapore’s 5.3-million-strong population today, form the foundation of the country’s urban development: a string of new towns form the eastern, western corridors and the northern ring of the island.
NEW ARCHITECTURAL AGE
New public housing is more distinctive and modern.
This lattice of new towns decentralises employment centres to outside the CBD. This was one of the most important policies of the 1991 Concept Plan – with more people working near where they live, this would reduce traffic congestion in the heart of the city. These HDB estates also form Singapore’s heartlands. While some see beauty in the simplicity and symmetry of HDB flats, critics call them 'cells in the sky', stripped of individuality. However you see them, the face of the HDB block is changing, as evinced by the acclaimed Pinnacle@ Duxton by ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism, co-founded by Ms Belinda Huang (Architecture ’90).
“Over the years, the design of our housing estates has evolved as society matures. There is an increasing focus on distinctive design in the community-centric new towns we see today,” says Ms Fun Siew Leng (Architecture ’86), who joined HDB upon graduation. Ms Fun is now Group Director for Urban Planning and Design at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the government body responsible for land-use planning and conservation. Says Ms Fun, “Well-designed public facilities and amenities – such as void decks, hawker centres, interchanges and libraries – are spaces that bring the community together. With the increasing intensification of land use, it is important to humanise our city with places for people to socialise and relax.”
BUILDING HOMES, NOT HOUSES
According to URA, one of the considerations of Singapore’s urban development is to build a nation. Apart from creating an environment that encourages community building, says the authority, a sense of identity is also fostered through conservation. Adjunct Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Dr Liu Thai Ker, was CEO and Chief Planner of URA from 1989 to 1992. When he carefully designed some of Singapore’s earliest new towns as head of HDB’s Design and Research section from 1969 and Chief Architect in 1975, he made sure to leave about 60 per cent of the space for non-housing purposes. “Churches, temples, libraries and other community spaces serve a social and historical function, and create much stronger visual cues at significant corners than (superficial design elements),” he says. In his time at URA, Dr Liu also consolidated conservation policies. Conservation now goes beyond protecting the physical structure. URA’s Group Director for Physical Planning, Ms Hwang Yu-Ning (Architecture ’94), elaborates: “In 2002 we launched an Identity Plan to identify unique qualities of various areas. To retain and enhance these qualities, we came up with guidelines to ensure that new developments are sensitive to the identity of the area, among other things. “The plan combines ideas to keep and enhance the special character of places. This led to not just the conservation of buildings in areas like Balestier, Jalan Besar, Tanjong Katong and Joo Chiat, but also seemingly-small improvements – such as environmental upgrades and the provision of additional parkMs Fun Siew Leng (Architecture ’86) ing spaces – that help strengthen the identity of these places."
There is an increasing focus on distinctive design in the communitycentric new towns we see today.
ne of Singapore’s most distinctive identities is that of being a 'Garden City' – a title earned from the efforts of the Garden City campaign, which began in 1963 under Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s vision, and which saw the planting of hundreds of thousands of trees in urbanised areas and along roads. Since 2011, the Garden City vision has been updated to that of a ‘City in a Garden’ to reflect a new direction for the programme. While greening was previously seen as the means to creating a beautiful urban environment, preserving, promoting and cultivating green spaces is now an end-goal in its own right. The change did not happen overnight. A key focus of the 2001 Concept Plan that mapped out the planning vision for the subsequent 40 to 50 years was to increase the amount of area devoted to green space. In 2002, two additional nature reserves – Labrador Nature Reserve and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve – were gazetted. URA went on to recognise and safeguard areas with rich biodiversity through the inclusion of a Parks and Waterbodies Plan in 2002.
Green Singapore Says Ms Fun, “Today, we have four gazetted Nature Reserves, 20 Nature Areas and more than 350 parks ranging from forests, mangrove swamps, [to] open spaces and beaches. These cater to different social and recreational needs and take up some eight per cent of our land – a figure we want to eventually increase to about 10 per cent.” Reservoirs take up a further five per cent of the land area in Singapore. Apart from preserving nature, the Parks and Waterbodies Plan also aims to bring nature closer to people. Under this plan, park connectors have been extended from 40km in 2002 to 200km today, and this is slated to grow to 360km by 2020. Ms Hwang oversees a team that works with partner agencies to enhance Singapore’s living environment by capitalising on its unique identity and heightening the sense of greenery. On the plan, she elaborates, “Other proposals include new nature trails at the Southern Ridges, Sungei Buloh Wetland
which promise better energy efficiency. But greening Singapore goes beyond beautifying the environment. An eco-consciousness is also a guiding principle for developments, and identifying transportation and waste management are two of Singapore biggest eco-challenges today, according to Mr Tan Seng Chuan (Building Science ’90), who is director at global full-service consulting, design, construction, and operations firm CH2M HILL Singapore Consulting. Mr Tan is of the opinion that Singapore needs to “look for innovative solutions above and below ground, as well as look at a systematic approach to planning our infrastructure”. And harness technology the country has, as exhibited in NEWater – recycled waste water made ECO GOALS potable – and the repurposing of Pulau Semakau, Singapore is proof that a landfill that has been transformed into a green a city that is home to environment with rich biodiversity. many spaces devoted Referring to the National Climate Change to nature can be built. Strategy 2012 (NCCS 2012) that highlights Singapore is Asia’s greenchallenges while identifying ‘Green Growth’ ecoest metropolis, according conscious economic opportunities for the country, to the 2011 Asian Green Mr Tan – who is also the chairman for the World City Index. The World Engineers Summit Singapore 2013, which explores Economic Forum’s Global sustainable solutions to climate change – highCompetitiveness Report lights that the way forward is indeed to balance 2011–2012 also ranked economic growth and eco-efforts to reduce the Singapore second in the carbon footprint. Sustainable Competitiveness Index, which takes in a The NCCS 2012 outlines Singapore’s country’s environmental policy, resource efficiency national plans to address climate change, and and environmental degradation into consideration, Mr Tan says that as long as Singapore has a good alongside other economic and social indicators. action plan to implement those approaches, “we Professor Wong Nyuk Hien from should be able to achieve the Department of Building at NUS our target as a uniquely School of Design and Environment, Singapore eco-city”. His says, “The Government over the view echoes the findings years has been actively promoting from research, such as the use of green building products the 2011 BCA-NUS study and technologies.” For example, that showed that greenthe Building and Construction ing existing buildings Authority (BCA)'s Green Mark could increase their Scheme – which ranks buildings monetary value. on their environment-friendliness NUS has also taken – has been put in place and all new the first step to realising buildings now must go through the the potential of the ecoscheme to be certified. On top of solutions domain through this, various government agencies the setting-up of an inteare actively involved in R&D to grated research cluster to identify new and potential green facilitate collaboration in building technologies. the area of energy and enProf Wong has been involved in vironmental sustainabilMr Tan Seng Chuan multiple research and development ity. This cluster includes (Building Science, ’90) projects with government agencies the NUS Environmental to make buildings more sustainable Research Institute, the and eco-friendly. One such work is Solar Energy Research the development of BCA’s Zero Energy Building project, Institute of Singapore, the Tropical Marine Science and the testing and development of green roofs and Institute and the NUSDeltares, which studies walls for buildings with National Parks Board and BCA urban water management and climate adaptation. with the pedestrian network. Even infrastructural spaces can be turned into public spaces for people to enjoy, such as the popular green public space at Marina Barrage,” says Ms Fun, who oversees the promotion, marketing and place management of Marina Bay. She also sits on the Board of Architects and co-chairs the PUB’s ABC Waters Review Panel.
Reserve and the TreeTop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir Park. In particular, the Southern Ridges proposal saw the creation of a nine-kilometre chain of green, open spaces spanning Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, Kent Ridge Park, Clementi Woods and West Coast Park. “These interconnected parks became a whole new destination… This is one of my favourite examples of capitalising on what we have to create a strong sense of place through sensitive planning and good design.” And, Ms Fun says, beyond planning for parks and gardens, URA has set its sights higher – literally. The Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High Rises Programme was set up to encourage the provision of vertical and rooftop greenery within private developments for residents or the public to enjoy. Under the programme’s Landscape Replacement Policy, new developments in Marina Bay and Jurong Gateway will boast landscaped areas equal to or more than the site area it is built on. A prime example of this initiative: 100 hectares of greenery in the form of Gardens by the Bay adjacent to the new financial hub of Marina Bay. “In terms of public spaces, URA also has Gross Floor Area exemptions to encourage developers to provide more covered public spaces that are integrated
Nature reserves, parks and other green areas make up eight per cent of the land.
We have to look for innovative solutions above and below ground, as well as look at a systematic approach to planning our infrastructure.
Urban planning our population size and infrastructure capacity,” she says. Until more MRT lines can be built, bus services and pedestrian walkways are being enhanced in the meantime. There is also a need to reduce reliance on cars as they not only create congestion, but increase Singapore’s carbon footprint. Given that urban planning for a nation is a delicate balancing act of social, economic, environment, cultural and even defence functions, Mr Hoo sees providing for these needs as a key challenge. “We will continue to set aside 10 per cent of the land for greenery, but we will also have to see how to make good use of land to meet future needs.” However, this can mean making an unpleasant sacrifices. For example, the Government is set to build an expressway through the Bukit Brown Cemetery. Though the cemetry has been closed for decades, nature-lovers have expressed their dismay that such a lush and historical tract of land has to go. Elsewhere, the Bidadari Cemetery has already been cleared and is awaiting redevelopment into a public housing estate in the near future. Another project that stirred a public outcry was the much-lamented destruction of the former National Library at Stamford Road in 2005 that paved the way for a road tunnel.
THE NEW FACE OF THE URBAN KAMPUNG
With collaborative efforts between different government agencies and a consultative approach to urban development, a balance can be struck between preservation versus development.
[Making space for 6.9 million] is a plan which we should prepare as a responsible measure. 14
“It makes me very happy” Liu Thai Ker
of more affordable premises for companies that did not need to be located in the city centre, and it also brought jobs closer to homes. “These nodes bring greater convenience to residents as they provide a large variety of amenities and recreational options near their homes,” highlights Mr Richard Hoo (Building ’90), Group Director of Strategic Planning for URA’s Physical Planning Group. Some people have expressed concern about overcrowding following the 2013 Population White Paper’s projections of a of 6.9 million population. But the Land Use Plan 2030 demonstrates Singapore has the capacity for this. Says Mr Hoo, “Some 58 per cent of the land will be dedicated to housing, manufacturing and amenities, as well as green spaces and essential services and utilities. Within this, 17 per cent of land has been allocated for housing, up from 14 per cent in 2010. “We have sufficient land capacity to support a larger population should there be a need. [Making space for 6.9 million people] is not a goal or a target, but a plan which we should prepare as a responsible measure to ensure that our facilities and infrastructure do not lag behind growth.” Reclaiming land, developing reserve plots and repurposing industrial areas and golf courses are part of the plan. For example, it was recently announced that the Paya Lebar Air Base will be relocated to Changi in the next two decades, freeing up 800 ha of land for homes, offices and industry. And, as Ms Hwang points out, the Government is building more homes and enhancing public transport with new rail lines and more buses. “The crowdedness we feel today is due to a temporary mismatch between
Adjunct Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy It was the Swinging Sixties, and a young Dr Liu Thai Ker was living the dream in New York City as a promising architect-planner at renowned firm I.M. Pei & Partners. Yet in 1969, the 31 year-old left his Big Apple city life for a different reality: a newly-independent
Photo by Steve Zhu
uite clearly, facilitating economic growth is one of the underlying functions of Singapore’s urban development. In the 2005 book The City: A Global History, author Joel Kotkin identified large-scale economic development as the key to Singapore’s rise to the model city it is today. “Lee Kuan Yew and his government worked assiduously to exploit Singapore’s natural advantage as a harbour and transit centre for trans-Asian trade. By the end of the 20th century, it boasted among the world’s best-educated and economically-productive populations,” Mr Kotkin wrote. One of the purposes of the 1963 tree-planting campaigns was to bring rain to Singapore to ease drought – greenery helps to produce water. But creating a lush landscape was also an economic tool to woo investors as the pleasant environment set Singapore apart from its neighbours. The programme also improved quality of living – a key focus in every URA Concept Plan since 1991. The decentralisation of commercial activities following the 1991 Concept Mr Richard Hoo (Building ’90) Plan meant the provision
The country’s most basic building block – the HDB estate – is an example of the integrated approach. “For instance,” says Ms Hwang, “we worked with the relevant agencies to plan for an integrated complex at Woodlands. This modern urban kampung will house studio apartments, a hawker centre, shops and care facilities. Such projects not only enhance the living environment, but also create an endearing hub for the community.” Indeed, every individual has a part to play when it comes to the urban development of Singapore. Local architects and planners such as Dr Liu Thai Ker, Mr Mok Wei Wei (Architecture ’82) of W Architects and Mr Wong Mun Summ (Architecture, Building & Real Estate ’86) of WOHA have created new landmarks such as the Henderson Waves elevated park connector, rejuvenated heritage buildings such as the National Museum of Singapore, and changed the way we look at schools and libraries through modern design, as seen in the School Of The Arts. Even the man in the street has an influence. From the way we cope with shrinking apartment sizes via creative interior design, to a rising preference for cycling as transport, the way each of us lives shapes the way the country is built. Just as HDB apartments can be considered blank slates for personalisation, Singapore’s urban development plans are the broad strokes that outline a picture, waiting to be coloured in by everyone from architects, builders, designers, researchers and conservationists to office warriors, homemakers and people like you and I.
Singapore rife with housing problems. Mr Teh Cheang Wan, then HDB’s Chief Architect, had visited Dr Liu in New York with this proposition: for Dr Liu to come home and head the board’s Design and Research Section, which had been formed in 1960. Dr Liu took up the challenge, and went on to become HDB’s Chief Architect in 1975 and its CEO from January 1979 to May 1989. He was then appointed Chief Planner and CEO of URA from 1989 to 1992, during which time he spearheaded the first major revision of the Singapore Concept Plan since it was drawn up in 1971. Today, the sprightly 75 year-old is involved in a great many projects around the region as Director of RSP Architects Planners & Engineers Pte Ltd. He is also Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the NUS Architecture School. But Dr Liu is proudest of his work at HDB. “I would say the most tangible benefit I brought is public housing. Strangers come up to me saying, ‘Dr Liu, you do not know me, but I just want to thank you for a nice home.’ That is the highest accolade I can get.” Indeed, homes are what Dr Liu had set out to build. “HDB is not just about building apartment blocks. It is also about community building, creating a sense of belonging.” It was an uphill task, as the country was faced with a severe housing shortage: “When we first started in 1960 Singapore had about 1.9 million people. According to my estimate, 1.3 million lived in squatter colonies.” The Government’s budget was tight and the people were poor. “We had to keep costs low and generate the largest possible floor areas for different types of apartments. This allowed for a three-room flat, about 75 square metres in size, to be priced at about S$7,800 in the ’70s. Even with the constraints we built something that was safe and durable – we did not stint on the structure.” Given the circumstances, it would have seemed enough of an achievement to build apartments fast enough to rehouse the people living in squatter colonies – which
were completely erased from our landscape by 1985. However, the Government knew by then that creating communities was critical to nation-building. Dr Liu was not just drafting building plans, he was drawing up town plans. His insight on creating liveable communities also led to a change in the Board’s town planning approach, resulting in the self-sufficient New Towns we see today. In the beginning, New Towns were divided into neighbourhoods of 50 to 60 ha each. However, Dr Liu soon realised this was too expansive for the residents to feel a sense of belonging. Through sociological studies, the ideal size of two to four hectares was identified. “I then introduced the word ‘precinct’, which forms the basic community residents feel a belonging to. We are creating communities, which is more important than creating buildings.” Creating a community also meant creating a new way of living. Dr Liu took pains to determine layouts of the flats, ventilation, natural lighting and even the number of units that shared a staircase. “What I did – at both HDB and URA – affects thousands, even millions even today. That is a responsibility I was aware of and which I did not abuse.” He was also thinking about the environment outside their homes. “Within HDB towns only 30 to 42 per cent of the land is used for residential purposes, and your daily living needs are mostly satisfied through the facilities and amenities within walking distance. We also pay a lot of attention to making it comfortable with town parks and green areas within central precincts that create a sense of space.” Dr Liu’s emphasis on the fundamentals of cost-efficiency and affordability guided the completion of over half a million HDB units under the Government’s “Home Ownership for All” policy. “I am so glad I came back from New York,” reflects Dr Liu. “I wanted to hold my head high as a citizen of a highly-respected country and I am so glad our Government made that happen. It makes me very happy.”
THE LONG TAIL OF SUCCESS Senior Minister for State for Education and Law Ms Indranee Rajah (Law ‘86) hopes that proposed changes to the education system will create a ‘level playing field’ for all Singaporeans. by Arti Mulchand
Changes to education policies formed a key part of this year’s National Day Rally speech. Given your current role, what is your take on the changes?
Some of the key changes were to Primary 1 registration and the 40 places set aside for non-alumni students, the PSLE T-Score system and the Direct Schools Admission programme taking into account character attributes like resilience. While much debate has been generated about whether these moves will achieve their desired outcomes, what people may not appreciate is the bigger context – that these are one part of a whole slew of steps. The P1 change is a small but significant step. The idea of parents wanting to send their children to their alma mater holds true worldwide. But we’re at the point where the alumni have grown so much that even those living close to the school get shut out. It hurts diversity, and that is not 16
good. Those 40 spaces ensure that someone unconnected to the school stands a chance. It signals the kind of society we want to be – one in which opportunities are open to all. As for the PSLE changes, the original reason for introduction of the T-score was because people felt a simple Pass/Fail, was not transparent enough. Now, with the T-Score, we are at the other end of the spectrum where everyone fights for that last point. We need to blunt the system a little. In this instance perhaps the pendulum went a bit too far in one direction. Angst is caused by parents believing that a child’s whole future is determined by his or her secondary school because otherwise they do not stand a chance of getting into university. We have taken other steps to address this, including increasing the number of university places to take in 40 per cent of each cohort. What stood out during your involvement in the recent Our Singapore Conversation?
The feedback was that people were concerned that the system was too elitist, and that only a privileged few could get into the ‘branded’ schools. The changes must be seen in that context – the Government is doing more to level the playing field for everyone. We have had initiatives in the past – the Comprehensive
events. I have two Meet-the-People sessions a week. In between all of that, I try and work out. My weekends are consumed by constituency work. And in the middle of all that, I try and squeeze in time for interviews like these!
How did you end up in politics? I was invited into politics in 2001 by the then-Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Mr Ho Peng Kee. I remember reflecting about this back when I was a student and there were few female role models in politics. I had been given an opportunity to make a difference.
How did your NUS education prepare you for the important role you play today?
You have deepened that commitment even more — last November, you hung up your robes for the role of Senior Minister of State. How has the adjustment been?
Programme for Levelling Up students, MOE Kindergartens, the Opportunity Fund. If you look at each of these moves, they have been steps towards a fairer and more just society. Of all the changes mentioned in PM Lee’s speech, which one are you most excited about?
The one that got the least attention, actually – that you can now do different subjects not determined by stream. It means students can develop their strengths through flexible, customised learning. For example, a child from the Normal Academic stream can do English at the Express level if that’s what he is strong in. The details have not been fleshed out, but I think it is just a question of organisation and resourcing. But we have already had some practice with subject-based banding at the upper primary level, so we know it can work.
Every generation wants the best for their children and views education as a means to that end. The trick is to get the right balance. You are helping to shape this country during a time when many changes are being introduced. What are some of the big challenges?
Photo Steve Zhu
ducation issues have been hogging headlines thanks to changes announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during this year’s National Day Rally. Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Ms Indranee Rajah (Law ’86) discusses the implications of this “turning point” to Singapore society.
your background is, you must be given a chance to succeed. That is the kind of society we want to be. Secondly, as we work out the details, we need to do so in a way that addresses broad concerns, and not those of particular individuals.
There are two main challenges. One is getting people to see the big picture. Moves have to be seen in a broader context. What we are trying to do is create more opportunities for people to be able to level up without lowering our standards. That is the essence of Singapore – no matter what
What I really like about my move is being in a position to make a difference. You realise the sheer scale of things and that everything you do has a ripple effect. There will always be differing views, but you just have to manage your landing to ensure the broad majority is taken care of, and that the niches are addressed, for example, special needs education. Also, you have to accept that every move you make is a ‘long-tailed’ one. It will take 10 to 15 years for an individual to get through the system for you to see the impact of decisions made today. What is a typical day for you like?
Having read Law, you learn how to combine theoretical concepts with practice and real life. You have the rules embodied in statute but then you have to apply them in a humane way. Someone killing someone else demands a harsh punishment, but what if that person was provoked? Or, when a contract gets breached, you need to ask why. That is the value of a Law education. You learn that life is about putting practice into effect. And while technology has made the university experience today quite different (we had to hand-copy notes during my time and the pace was probably a bit slower) certain fundamentals are the same. When you enter university you are on the cusp of going out to the ‘real’ world. You feel like you know a fair bit because you have been in ‘the system’ for more than a decade, and you are eager to get out there. But there is still a lot you do not know. At that stage, good lecturers and tutors make a difference. If your university experience can teach you how to do things independently, and to think logically but empathetically, it sets you in good stead.
No matter what your background is, you must be given a chance to succeed — That is the essence of singapore.
Well that depends on which day it is! On Mondays I could have a meeting at the Ministry of Law and another at the Ministry of Education and have a Parliament session in between. On other days I might have school visits or internal
What is your vision for Singapore?
I hope our system will be able to produce Singaporeans of character and integrity, who care about others and care about the country. They should think not just of themselves, but also of how they stand in relation to others and Singapore as a whole. OCT–DEC 2013
Once Upon a Memory
Driven by drama
The project culminated in a show for their annual dinner and dance.” He was also asked to write a script for Singapore Airlines’ dinner-and-dance. “I was paid quite well for that: S$1,500!” he remembers. Now the father of two boys, (Ee Jin, 12 and Ee Jon, 9), Mr Moh found his groove in business after working for a series of small companies. The Arts and Social Sciences alumnus started out as an employee of Procter & Gamble upon his graduation in 1992. He was recruited during his third year in university, and started working life a week after graduation. “I was a sales management trainee, and they gave me a car to travel around in to see customers,” he recalls. “It was pretty cool.” He set up Fundsupermart.com with a friend in 1999. It was eventually renamed iFAST Corporation, and Mr Moh was the Group Executive Director right up till 2010. Today, iFast is a regional company with offices in Hong Kong, Malaysia and India (where it is a joint venture with Deutsche Bank). It has also won awards such as second place in the 2008 Enterprise 50 Awards. It has
s much as he loved his academic pursuits, Mr Moh Hon Meng adored his co-curricular activity: drama. “My best memories of university were the plays I wrote, directed and acted in,” says Mr Moh, 45, now the Chief Executive Officer of Estatebuzz, an IT company that connects people living and working near each other, and offers solutions to their collective daily problems. “I was President of the campus drama group Varsity Playhouse and we produced many plays. My best friends in NUS were people who worked with me on the plays.” Former presidents of Varsity Playhouse include theatre
heavyweight Mr Ong Keng Sen and Hollywood actor Mr Ng Chin Han. Highlights of those days include performing Julius Caesar at Shakespeare In The Park in 1990, and being sent to Sydney in 1991. “A group of us attended a theatre course at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney,” recalls Mr Moh. “Everyone on that course has gone on to interesting and meaningful careers, including Chin Han, who has acted in Hollywood movies such as The Dark Knight and 2012, and Selena Tan (founder of Dream Academy).” Mr Moh’s talent for acting took him beyond the National University of Singapore (NUS) – in his third year, he acted in a TheatreWorks production of Army Daze, directed by fellow alumnus Mr Koh Boon Pin.
But it was his writing that won him accolades. “I wrote a play for the launch of NUS Theatre in 1991, called Single. It was published by The National University Press and used as a reference text in the Literature classes,” he says. The book eventually won a prize in the National Book Development Council Book Awards of 1993. Mr Moh’s theatrical talent first collided with his entrepreneurial streak in 1991. “In my final year, I taught acting to a few clients. First, I did a video for the then-National Productivity Board, and then I taught acting to a group of Central Provident Fund Board (CPF) staff. “As we grow old, our bodies forget to move in certain ways, so they found the sessions liberating!
Main photo Steve Zhu ;other photos courtesy of Moh Hon Meng
Entrepreneur Moh Hon Meng (FASS ’92), and former President of university theatre group Varsity Playhouse, credits his flexible talents to NUS. by Theresa Tan
its own magazine, Fundsupermart, for which Mr Moh has penned many articles. Equally adept at right-brain and left-brain tasks, Mr Moh majored in Economics and Psychology, with Philosophy as his minor. “Economics had the greatest impact on me,” he says, “because I eventually started a business in the finance industry. Psychology helped me understand my own behaviour and the behaviour of others, and taught me some coping strategies. Philosophy taught me to look at life in different ways. A lot of the stress that we experience has to do with how we see life and how we value different things. If we can change those viewpoints and make different decisions for what we want in life, that stress could disappear.” Mr Moh has kept up with his creative writing over the past two decades. Among the feathers in his cap are two Third Prizes in the Hewlett Packard Action Theatre 10minute playwriting competition during the mid-‘90s and a cheeky self-help book titled The Essential Guide To
Sydney, 1991 (first row, extreme right, in glasses) . “A group of us attended a theatre course at the National Institue of Dramatic Arts (NIDA). Everyone in the picture has gone on to interesting and meaningful careers. The more familiar faces are Selena Tan (front row in purple) and Ng Chin Han (second from left, in red T-shirt).“
Seduction For Men, which was published by Simon & Schuster, and sold out of its 3,000-copy print run. “Having studied Psychology I included some attraction studies in there,” he quips. “The rest was tongue-in-cheek.” In the mid-Noughties he penned a novel, Ko Island, a tale of national servicemen having to battle pirates, and a nonfiction tome, The New Singaporean Dream, about becoming an entrepreneur in Singapore. The latest thing he wrote was How To Live Life, a blog dedicated to his sons comprising 30 essays on key lessons in life. Having witnessed a friend – who regretted not teaching his children life lessons – die from cancer, Mr Moh decided that uploading his wisdom on the Internet would serve not only his sons but his grandchildren as well. The Mensa member admits his many achievements are items on his bucket list. “I just want to experience different things in life!” he says. “It is also my need to create. It morphed from writing to business.” He credits his education in NUS for “equipping me with very sound fundamentals to explore life. The social sciences teaches one to ask questions and to keep asking. In an ever-changing world, that’s a critical skill to have.”
A lot of the stress that we experience have to do with how we see life and how we value different things.
Mr Moh (in black) performing “Shakespeare in the Park - Julius Caesar” as part of the Singapore Arts Festival Fringe of 1990.
Of The Mind
t is human nature to be interested in the “Why” of a crime – the grislier, the more intriguing. But for Dr Majeed Khader, this interest goes far beyond sheer curiosity. As Director of the Home Team Behavioural Sciences and Deputy Director of The Police Psychological Services Division, Dr Majeed leads his team in the forensic psychological investigation of acts of criminal behaviour. “Years ago, we were involved in the psychological autopsy (PA) of the pilot involved in the crash of a plane,” he says. “There was concern about whether this was suicide, murder or an aviation accident. “Undertaking this PA, we interviewed large numbers of pilots, management staff and family members, and reviewed flight recordings and black box recordings. After this psychological investigation, our team was able to construct a detailed profile of the deceased pilot’s mindset, hobbies, interests, motivations, inclinations, temperament, stressors and life challenges, and this proved to be very useful to the investigators.”
Upon graduation from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 1993, Dr Majeed started as a research assistant and trainee psychologist with the Singapore Police Force (SPF). In the two decades he has been there, Dr Majeed has worked his way up to Chief Psychologist. He manages the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre as its Director while being concurrently Deputy Commander of the Crisis Negotiation Unit in the SPF. He also teaches a course on criminal and forensic psychology at the Nanyang Technological University, as well as criminal profiling at the Life Sciences Undergraduate programme in NUS, hosted by the Department of Biological Sciences. The 46 year-old father of two graduated from NUS in 1993 with an Honours degree in Psychology. “I had excellent professors – Dr Chua Fook Kee, Professor John Elliott, Dr George Bishop, Dr Ramada Singh – who grilled us constantly on research methods, statistics and psychology,” he recalls with enthusiasm. “We were thrown into the deep end of the pool.
We did empirical projects every year up to Honours year, which really built our confidence and ability in experimental methods, sampling methods, survey design and statistics.” All that made for a good foundation, but police work had not crossed Dr Majeed’s mind for a career. “Prof Elliott and my senior tutor (now SMU faculty) Professor David Chan told me that the police were looking for someone to be a research assistant and trainee psychologist for two years,” he remembers. “At the time, my plan was to be a management consultant and to earn a lot of money, so two years was a good start. I took up the job and the rest is history. I pioneered and set up the police psychological unit and have stayed for 20 years. I love what I do and can put my hand on my heart to say ‘I have made a difference’.” Today, Dr Majeed and his team of 12 psychologists at SPF handle a spectrum of work and deal with a cross-section of offenders. “We do criminal profiling, crisis negotiation, morale assessment, leadership selection, and employee support and crisis response work,” he says. “We have seen a lot and
Photo courtesy of Dr Majeed Khader; Photo illustration: Shutterstock
What goes through the mind of an offender? It is the job of Dr Majeed Khader (Arts and Social Sciences ’93) to know. by Theresa Tan
I love what I do and can put my hand on my heart to say ‘I have made a difference.’
spoken to many: rapists, paedophiles, terrorists, molesters, ah longs (loansharks) and young offenders. Over the years, we have also responded to many critical incidents and lifeand-death situations. “It means we are constantly on our feet, 24/7, 365 days a year. I think we are probably the most operational group of psychologists in Singapore! Work is tough, and gory at times, and there is a lot to do, but it bonds the team tightly. Ask anyone who has been with us, they will tell you that being a police psychologist is always a unique experience. The force is a great place to work in. And with the cops, there is a lot of humour around.” Dr Majeed’s team handles behavioural sciences research and training for the Home Team. “A major programme we have is the
Crisis Leadership programme. Since the Ministry of Home Affairs is very involved with major crisis handling, for example, the Nicoll Highway collapse, the crash of MI185 in Palembang, the crash of SQ006 in Taipei, the Asian tsunami, terrorism et cetera, we have developed a very strong programme for how leaders can and should lead in times of crisis. And because we are an in-house unit, we get the anecdotes and feel the ‘psychological fidelity’ of the people who were there.” Other types of tasks the unit does includes working with prisons and narcotics psychologists to develop profiles of drug users, or conducting research on Internet extremism and the national resilience of Singaporeans.
Psychology, for the uninformed, seems like a “soft approach” to mental issues. But Dr Majeed describes it as “mind-ware to support the hardware”. “We understand people and human behaviour well. We use this knowledge to make our three O’s better: our organisations, operations and officers.” He cites two examples: “One, support for police operations. When we profile criminals, we get into their mindsets, motivations, codes of behaviour, organisational structures and their operational methods. We then partner with operations, intelligence and investigative officers on how better to tactically and strategically deal with the crime. “Two, when we use psychology to support our officers, we build their life skills and their resilience. Work in the Home Team can be hard. I see the officers as the unsung heroes of our society. They get complaints for things they do wrong now and then, but few compliments when they do get it right, which is really most of the time. It is not by chance that we have one of best safest and secure conditions in the world. We use psychology to support our organisations by assessing and developing strong leaders so that these leaders can support and lead their men well.” Dr Majeed derives satisfaction from seeing his students and younger colleagues share the passion – “knowing that some will make that impact someday and change the world in his own way.” His work in dealing with real-life issues with real people satisfies him as much as putting Singapore on the radar of international psychologists, as Asian Director of the US-based Society of Police and Criminal Psychology. “We organised two large-scale conferences in 2010 and 2013, which allowed us to showcase the good work of our people.” he says. The psychologist, who is married to his Psychology Honours classmate, relaxes by jamming with friends in the force, cooking and listening to his collection of vinyls. “I am putting together a small music studio in my HDB flat to record my own music,” he confesses. “I think I meet the criteria for a mid-life crisis, but I would not have it any other way.” OCT–DEC 2013
When he came back to Singapore in 1992, his art-collecting hobby blossomed and he “started going to more exhibitions and buying art”.
A bold stroke
A meeting of worlds Dr Pwee met Mr Tan when they got involved in a local art website during the tech boom of the late 1990s. “I had become interested since art was my hobby, so when this opportunity came to dabble a little in it, I joined [the website] for fun. Kenneth was working for them as a business development manager,” he says.“When that company went bust, we did not want to give up on the experience we had gained by dabbling in the art business for about a year, so we decided to set up our own gallery business but [with] no dot-com, no website associated with it.” Making the switch from science to art was not tough at all, thanks to Dr Pwee’s background in biology – from his early years as an honours Botany student, and then later in plant molecular biology research at NUS. Scientists, after all, have methodical and orderly minds, attributes which came in handy as a novice gallery owner, he says. “When you are putting on shows every two weeks – that means up to 26 exhibitions a year – you need to be quite orderly and systematic in order not to trip over yourself. At any one time, I am planning for several exhibitions months ahead and there is so much to figure out. If there is a foreign show, you need to sort out the logistics of flying the work in and getting it stretched and mounted in time. At the same time, you are also buying the catering for tomorrow night’s opening and writing the press releases for shows even further down the road.” His love of plants has also come in handy. At a recent sculpture exhibition organised by Utterly Art at Gardens by the Bay, some of artist Roberto Visani’s wonderfully detailed seed sculptures were unnamed. “He is a sculptor, but he is not a botanist!” says Dr Pwee. “So I had to do quite a lot of detective work for some of the works. It was accidental, but I told him, ‘You chose the right person, because I have a background in botany’.”
In the midst of an economic slump, Dr Pwee Keng Hock (Botany ’88) left the confines of science to open an art gallery. by elisabeth lee
So when I actually started earning a salary I thought: Okay, I can now buy some art.
Photo by Steve Zhu
ack in 2001, the outlook for Singapore was not rosy. The economy was shrinking – GDP growth clocked in that year at a negative 1.2 per cent, and the country was still reeling from the after effects of a recession in the United States and Europe, the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 1999 and the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998. Yet, Dr Pwee Keng Hock, together with business partner Mr Kenneth Tan, took the plunge and Utterly Art was born. It was not a total leap into the unknown. Dr Pwee, 49, had nurtured a growing interest in art ever since the late 1980s when he was a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, England. There, top galleries to feed his growing interest in art were within easy reach. Before then, while he had made the odd visit to the as-yet unrenovated National Museum, he was not in the habit of frequenting art galleries. But all that changed when Dr Pwee began to explore Europe. “Visiting big art galleries was one of the things I would do when I visited a city. It was nice to see old, precious things that were considered valuable at the time,” he recalls. “So when I actually started earning a salary I thought: Okay, I can now buy some art.” Dr Pwee’s first purchase was a small painting by a local watercolour painter in Cambridge. “I bought it in my final year for £60 (about S$120) at an exhibition at the town hall. It was a little British watercolour of autumn fruits. It is just a very pleasant thing, probably by an amateur hobbyist… and I do not care whether it has appreciated or not because I still enjoy it.”
not faze Dr Pwee. “I did not have a really expensive lifestyle I needed to maintain; I could go without a salary for some time, just to let the business grow,” he explains. “We did not have to pressure the business to perform.” The partners started out organising exhibitions of both up-and-coming and established local artists, using the free gallery space at the then Gallery Evason Hotel (now known as Gallery Hotel). “We did four quite-successful exhibitions there, so we were encouraged to continue with an actual physical premises [of our own] a year later in 2002 in Chinatown,” he says. Utterly Art has garnered a growing reputation as a dependable one-stop shop featuring an affordable range of art from promising young regional talent. Now at its third home in a Mosque Street shophouse, the gallery is a treasure trove of undiscovered Asian art. “It worked out that way because we had to learn quickly what the pricing thresholds would be. If you price something too high, it is going to sit there on the walls and nothing is going to happen to it for a long time,” Dr Pwee explains. “But it is quite a complex situation because pricing is not strictly based on dollar value – it is a question of dollar value vis-à-vis the seniority and the desirability of the artist.” But Dr Pwee hastens to add that “some artists, even though they are reasonably young, have good things and hype going for them” although he does not susbscribe to the notion that hype necessarily makes an artist much more expensive. His opinion is that although the art industry in Singapore has flourished, it is still no easier for a young graduate to take the plunge. Art has certainly become a more “respectable” career choice, but “competition has grown and it is harder to stand out amongst the many new entrants in the market, as well as the tonnes of new activities and openings each week”. Dr Pwee is prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Still, he harbours modest aspirations, refusing to set any hard targets for the future. “I think it is the only way to go in the art world because if you force too many expectations in art, you will be quite disappointed. Right now it is very easy to start a gallery, but very difficult to sustain it. The market is not big enough to support so many galleries. You can not force [art],” he says. “You start with an artist and you hope he or she becomes bigger as time goes on. So we hope the gallery grows along with its artists. It is a longterm thing.”
Growing organically Utterly Art was a tiny operation at first. Leaving a cushy academic job behind for the vagaries of the art world might seem daunting, but this did
Pursuit Of Excellence
In for the long haul
studied Medicine because I have had a keen interest in science and biology since primary school,” says Dr Mok Ying Ren, 25. “Science has always been one of my stronger subjects, and I enjoyed learning about the human body in Medicine. As an athlete, it is interesting to learn what goes on in your body when you train and compete.” Dr Mok recently completed his housemanship year and is attached to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department as a Medical Officer. His hope is to one day specialise in orthopaedic sports surgery. But right now, he has a more pressing dream – to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. In Singapore’s burgeoning running community, Dr Mok has become a legend in the last three years: he ran his first full marathon in 2011 and is today Singapore’s number one marathoner, clocking a stunning 2 hr 26 min 30 sec in his personal best timing for the 42.165km distance. The scion of a sporty family – his sister, Ying Rong, is one of Singapore’s top female competitive runners and their parents also run weekly – Dr Mok was a swimmer
in Red Swastika Primary School. He started running as part of Raffles Junior College’s cross-country team – coming up tops in the 2005 inter-school cross-country race – and progressed quickly to triathlons, which he represented Singapore in regionally. “My biggest race so far is probably the 2007 SEA Games where I managed to return home with a Triathlon Gold medal,” he says. “It was a challenging race as I was then a student at NUS medical school and I was racing against professional triathletes in the region.” Dr Mok credits his lifelong pursuit of sporting excellence to his education at Raffles Institution and RJC. “Our school anthem contained this phrase: ‘To reign supreme in every sphere’. It was fortunate that I also met my thencross country coach, Mr Steven Quek, who emphasised the importance of being a student and a student-athlete.
Discipline and commitment is what he imparted to us. He was a role model for many of us.” Those qualities have served Dr Mok well, particularly during the years he was both studying in Medical School and training for races. “It really took quite a bit of focus and discipline [to be consistent in training]. I stayed in Sheares Hall for most of my five years at NUS – lots of fun events and late-night suppers. However, I had to stay focused and be selective of the activities I took part in. I always represented the Hall in the annual Road Relay, which was fun and exciting.” He would train at West Coast Park, Pandan Reservoir and “I would run the circumference of NUS – that’s 10.5km!” During his undergraduate days, Dr Mok represented Singapore's universities and NUS at two editions of the ASEAN University Games in the track and field events. “I won a couple of bronze medals for NUS. I was also
there is always one mountain higher and there is always an opportunity to reach up further.
Photo courtesy of Office of Student Affairs
Singapore’s top marathoner Dr Mok Ying Ren (Medicine ‘12) has set his sights on qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. by Theresa Tan
part of the aquathlon, track and field, swimming and cross-country teams.” Little wonder he was NUS Sportsman of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and the NUS President Sportsman of the Year 2011. “I really want to thank NUS for recognising my achievements and it has been a great honour to compete for the University,” he says. “NUS is the leading university in Singapore and it has a great emphasis on a sporting culture. With the sports scholarship NUS implemented two years ago, it is leading Singapore in the pursuit of sporting excellence in tertiary institutions.” Clocking 2 hr 26 min at the Gold Coast Marathon in July this year qualified Dr Mok for the SEA Games in December, in Myanmar. “I am not sure if I qualify to be a world-class athlete at the moment, but I am definitely one of few doctors in the world who is competing at a high level in sports,” he says. “Perhaps my recent race performances over the past two years, such as setting the national record in the 5000m event have been positive signs. I think all I need is time and patience and I can definitely bring my running to the next level.” To qualify for the Olympics, Dr Mok says he will need to meet
“either the A standard of 2 hr 15 min or B standard of 2 hr 18 min over the next few years.” He thrives on the virtual encouragement of fellow Singaporeans, who have been vocal in their support of his Olympic hopes. And in the true spirit of being a medical professional, he seeks to give back to his supporters in terms of knowledge and awareness. He has a Facebook page where he posts his results and updates on training. He also has a website – currently being updated – where he plans to have a section to answer questions from the general public on health- and running-related issues. Dr Mok has also started a project Run To Walk – a weekly run on Saturday at Bedok Reservoir and Tampines Ecogreen to encourage running in the community. As he trains hard for the right to stand on the starting line of the Rio Olympic marathon finals, Dr Mok shares his philosophy of success: “You need to put your own achievements and success in perspective – there is always one mountain higher and there is always an opportunity to reach up further. Value your friends and team mates: you will help one another to reach these goals.” OCT–DEC 2013
One speaker. 10 minutes. Boundless inspiration. U@live is our monthly guest speaker series that showcase 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.
Ms Janet Ang (Business Administration ’82)
Into the Unknown, Positively Of lessons learnt in China and being faithful to yourself.
“The world collapsed in front of me
and I had to work through personally what was going to be the future.” That was the first reaction that Ms Janet Ang, then Managing Director of International Business Machines (IBM) Singapore, had when she found out that she had been “sold off” by her employer to Chinese technology firm Lenovo Group Limited. After being with IBM for 27 years – she first joined as a systems engineer in 1982 – “the moment of truth” came
on 8 December 2008. Ms Ang, who was planning to retire with IBM, initially felt betrayed. Brought up in a typical Asian family that places a premium on values such as loyalty, the announcement that she had to leave IBM came as a rude shock to Ms Ang. However, the resilient woman learnt to embrace the change and viewed the move as an opportunity for her to influence and value-add to Lenovo as Vice-President of its Worldwide Desktop Business Unit. Ms Ang said that when she stopped feeling sorry for herself and made the decision to change her mindset, windows of opportunities began to open. Believing that “there is a time for everything under the heavens”, Ms Ang also became a stronger person as a result of the move. One of the key lessons that the Business Administration alumnus picked up in her years working in China for Lenovo was the need to have speed over perfection. Quoting Chinese politician Deng Xiaoping who once said “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice”, Ms Ang shared that the Chinese are “hungry and fast”, and one has to pick up things quickly in order to survive in the world’s most populous nation. Responding to a question from the audience on what her survival strategies in China were, Ms Ang said, “You must have your head tightly locked on your shoulders.” She added
however, that holding strongly to one’s values and belief system must be balanced with an ability to adapt with the environment as well. Cautioning against arrogance, she emphasised that one should always embrace a teachable attitude: “It is not so much what I can teach you but what we can learn from each other.” When asked her secret to keeping herself continually relevant to the company, Ms Ang’s reply was, “If I am with a company that re-invents itself all the time, from a hardware organisation… to an organisation where more than 50 per cent [of its focus] is on services, if I am in that kind of organisation and I do not learn to re-invent myself, then I think I’ve missed it.” Moderator Mr Viswa Sadasivan asked the mother of four daughters how she has managed to balance between her multiple roles at work and at home. Ms Ang revealed that she had not always thought it was possible for a woman to achieve such a balance. In fact, just before tying the knot, she told her then boss, “Do not promote me. I am getting married.” It was an “enlightened boss who believed in [her]” that allowed her to rise through the ranks. Ms Ang also emphasised that it is necessary for one to be resourceful and learn to prioritise in order to be effective and productive, both at work and at home. When posed the question: “To whom should you be loyal? Is it to your work or to yourself?”, Ms Ang quoted the late Mother Teresa: “You are not called to be successful but to be faithful.” She added with a smile, “If you want to be successful in life, be faithful to who you are.”
The role of the government is to provide a framework for its people to succeed and achieve their goals in life.
If you want to be successful in life, be faithful to who you are.
By YEO ZHI QI
Ms Ang spoke on 26 JUne 2013.
Mr K Shanmugam (Law ‘84)
Facing a challenging world Why certain fundamentals in Singapore cannot change.
“How do you balance economic progress with a balanced life?” Thrown this hot button question by moderator Mr Viswa Sadasivan, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister Mr K Shanmugam’s answer was that a
slower pace of life is within reach but Singaporeans must first ask themselves if they are able and willing to accept a trade-off in living standards. Addressing an audience of about 330 students, faculty staff and alumni, Mr Shanmugam said that “Many people … assume that all other things will remain the same – ‘I will have this lifestyle, I will have this job, I will have this quality of life, and I can afford to slow down’. But the real answer is: your lifestyle and quality of life and the state of society will be different. As long as we debate that and agree that that is an outcome that we are prepared to accept, yes, the answer is, we can afford to slow down.” Pointing out Singapore’s location on the world map, the minister noted the challenges faced by the city-state
and asked the audience to consider if Singapore’s neighbouring countries would likewise slow down if she decides to. He explained that as other Asian countries gain strength, Singapore’s positions as air, sea and financial hubs are being challenged. China’s new oil route, which bypasses the Strait of Malacca and Singapore, as well as Malaysia’s new financial centre are just some of the competition that Singapore now has to contend with. Mr Shanmugam reiterated a few times that “happiness has to come from the inside”. While it is the individual’s choice to decide on the type of life one wants to pursue, he pointed out that the role of the government is to provide a framework for its people to succeed and achieve their goals in life. OCT–DEC 2013
U@Live Mr Tan Min-Liang (Law, ‘02)
Sharing the dilemmas political leaders face, Mr Shanmugam said that current public expenditure is more than the revenue from taxes in this year’s Budget. Acknowledging with a smile that “it is very easy to spend people’s money”, he said that the government has to carefully deliberate over budget allocation rather than throw money at the problem. The minister emphasised, “There is always something else on which money can be spent. But every time the government agrees and implements a programme, you must remember it is hardcoded, [it is] very difficult to take it back.” Mr Shanmugam spoke to a capacity crowd. While there is some level of public engagebecause it has been led by a group of ment, Mr Shanmugam, who is also visionary leaders who are not corrupt. the Member of Parliament who repreWhile acknowledging that the sents Nee Soon Group Representation voting populace has changed and Constituency, said that there is the government has to adapt to it, currently insufficient debate on the challenges that the country is likely to he said that there are certain fundamentals which must face in the future. not change, among He noted that these “cleanliness most of the debate in government has focused on dayand integrity”. to-day issues but for In response to a sustained progress, question from the Singaporeans should floor on the type also bear in mind the of political system long-term challenges that would best suit that they will face long-term planning, in the next 20 to Mr Shanmugam said, 30 years. “It does not matter For instance, the who you vote for, but choose good ageing population will be an addipeople. Choose people who can detional burden for future generations liver and please vote them in, in a way of Singaporeans. In 2012, 5.9 working that gives political stability. There is people supported one retiree but by nothing written in stone that, 20 years 2030, each retired person will be supfrom now, the ruling party would be ported by just 2.1 working adults. the same as the ruling party ever was.” Noting that the country will go He drew a comparison between downhill if it is ruled by a populist one-party China and the world’s larggovernment that decides that “the est democracy, India. way to succeed is to spend more While China has brought 500 miland more money”, Mr Shanmugam lion people out of poverty in 30 years, stressed that Singapore has succeeded
It does not matter who you vote for, but choose good people.
Gaming the System Differently Success stems from doing what you love and not being afraid to fail.
“Waste time, do not work so hard and get Fs.”
an Indian child spends only four-anda-half years in school on average, and India has an infant mortality rate of one in six children, he pointed out. Another participant asked what Singapore’s competitive advantage is. Mr Shanmugam’s reply: “Thirtyfive to 38 countries want to meet us, and we have done a tremendous amount of good work.” He is often kept busy with requests from political leaders of other countries as many countries are keen to learn from Singapore’s governance. He added that despite the many challenges that Singapore faces, its system of governance is generally recognised as being superior to those of many countries, and it is this strong branding that will propel the country forward. Mr Shanmugam, an NUS alumnus who graduated top of his Law class, left this piece of advice for graduating students: “Chase your dreams and be happy.” He added that people should choose something that they are happy doing as they would then more likely do well and succeed. By YEO ZHI QI
Mr Shanmugam spoke on 12 July 2013.
These are the three lessons that Mr Tan Min-Liang, co-founder, CEO and Creative Director of gaming hardware company, Razer USA, has learnt over his years of experience as an entrepreneur. Not quite the usual advice one would expect from a successful businessman, but then Mr Tan is not a conventional person. The founder of a company with more than 500 employees globally, shared with a laugh, “at every point, I was told I was wasting my time but playing games eventually helped me in my future”. Explaining that there is no need to “work very hard”, Mr Tan said that those who have to spend long hours in their jobs may not actually enjoy what they do and may not be performing well in their job either. He suggested that it is more important for people to “do something [they] are really passionate about”.
For Tan Min-Liang (right), ‘having fun’ is the gateway to achievment.
Passion is also the key criteria that the 36 year-old CEO looks for when hiring for his company. Beyond hunting for specialised skill sets that are important for each role, Mr Tan said that he ensures that every single Razer employee has a “huge appreciation for gaming”. The maverick, who admits he often skipped lectures during his undergraduate days in NUS as a law student, also believes that it is fine for one to fail in school because “in the greater scheme of things, nobody cares”. However, he emphasised that an individual with a fear of failure may not necessarily be less able than someone with an appetite for risk. It is these different mindsets, which “breed individuals for different roles” and career paths. Citing the example of a talented engineer who is excellent in his craft but may not be
a good leader, Mr Tan said that it is more important that the individual is given a right role to capitalise on his strengths, rather than be forced into a management position. As someone who does not benchmark himself against societal standards, the youngest of four children said that he had probably inherited his maverick streak from his parents. And the way he runs his business is no different from how he leads his personal life. Unlike most profit-driven businesses where revenue acts as a key indicator for business success, the CEO who started his company with just one other partner, emphasised that “having fun” and “designing great products” are more important to him than just making money. Asked if he had faced any setbacks running his business, Mr Tan said with a smile, “I treat the whole thing like a game. If you treat [the business] as a game, whatever happens, it is not as bad.” Responding to a participant’s query on how he managed the transition from lawyer to businessman, Mr Tan said that attention to detail was an important skill that he took away from his training as a lawyer. He also learnt that being decisive was essential as was the need to make the final call whenever necessary. The session’s moderator, Mr Viswa Sadasivan, asked what qualities Singaporeans can afford to have more of in order for the country to have a thriving entrepreneurship culture. Unlike most entrepreneurs who often gripe about the lack of government support, Mr Tan reasoned that “there should be less reliance on the government” as investments ought to be motivated by dreams and ideas, rather than financial backing from the state. Mr Tan, who is based in San Francisco, believes that Singaporeans are global citizens who have a competitive edge. “Our fundamentals are that we are multi-lingual and multi-cultural and this allows us to adapt easily.”
If you treat [the business] as a game, whatever happens, it is not as baD.
By YEO ZHI QI
Mr Tan spoke on 28 August 2013. OCT–DEC 2013
Alumni Happenings | Giving
Throwing a lifeline
The ‘MAD’ way forward
fundraising activities. Since he took over as President in 1999, Dr Teo has organised annual fundraising golf events to raise funds for financially disadvantaged students. Since 2005, BEMA, who ational University of also has an ongoing Singapore (NUS) alumfinancial assistance nus and Mayor of the scheme, has helped North West District eight students from the Dr Teo Ho Pin (Design Department of Building and Environment ’85) and Department of quotes the Singapore Real Estate. Life Saving Society’s Second Year student motto “Whosoever you Alvin Loke, one of the see in distress, recognise in him a students who received fellow man” as his inspiration to help help from BEMA at others in need. Dr Teo, who is a trained a very difficult point lifesaver and the President of NUS’ in his life, says, “I was Building and Estate Management completely surprised Alumni (BEMA), recently rallied his by how much people fellow alumni to establish the BEMA cared. I used to think Dr Teo Ho Pin Bursary to help needy students at this was a dog-eat-dog (Design and Environment ’85) NUS Department of Building and world. But now I believe Department of Real Estate. “In the world is not such a lifesaving, we have this spirit of cruel place after all.” helping others in distress. I feel that Dr Teo also shares how his mother meaningful it is. This is something I want to inspire, where people do things if it is within our means, we should inspired him to extend a helping not for their own benefit, but for others.” try our best to help others in need,” hand to the less-fortunate. He says, So what are Dr Teo’s hopes for says Dr Teo. “My mother has always helped people the recipients of the BEMA Bursary? Dr Teo attained his lifesaving in need – the handicapped, people “I hope that students will have a sense qualification certificate during his with Down Syndrome and others. I of gratitude so that they will be able to pre-university days when he was a was used to strangers living in the do good for the community and society cadet inspector, and house. This has in the future,” he says. “Those who have has been interested influenced me benefited should think about benefiting in lifesaving ever to do good to others in years to come when they are in since. He went on to help others. The a better position. This is the kind of spirit start the University more people I I am trying to encourage.” Lifeguard Corps help, the more Besides establishing the BEMA at NUS with three Bursary, BEMA has also given to various friends when he causes at NUS, including setting up book was studying at For information on prizes at the Department of Building and the University, and making a gift to Department of Real Estate, as well describes the times NUS, contact us at 1800-DEVELOP as giving to University Town. he spent training (1800-338-3567) The BEMA Bursary is an initiative lifesavers at the NUS or email askdvo@ under the newly-formed NUS Alumni swimming pool as nus.edu.sg. If you have a story Bursary Fund, an alumni-for-students most memorable. to share, please undertaking led by NUS alumni that Dr Teo and contact us at Dr Teo Ho Pin (Design and provides financial support to financiallyBEMA contribute whatsyourstory@ Environment ‘85) disadvantaged students. regularly to various nus.edu.sg.
Inspired by his experience as a lifesaver, Dr Teo Ho Pin (Design and Environment ‘85) has initiated a bursary to keep needy students afloat.
ver the course of more than four decades of public service, Spring Singapore Chairman Mr Philip Yeo (Engineering ’74), has played a key role in the transformation of Singapore’s economy. Now, his ‘Make a Difference’ (MAD) attitude, which has helped write the country’s economic history and develop a generation of leaders, is being celebrated and perpetuated by the establishment of the Philip Yeo Initiative at his alma mater. Established with gifts by those who have worked with Mr Yeo and have witnessed the inspiring impact
“Whosoever you see in distress, recognise in him a fellow man.”
*Annual Giving is a yearly fundraising campaign that supports NUS students in many ways, from bursaries and scholarships to funding books, sporting events and the arts. In Academic Year 2012, NUS awarded 3,768 bursaries and scholarships with significant support from Annual Giving.
Mr Philip Yeo (Engineering ‘ 74)
paying it forward through giving
a start-up in a leading entrepreneurial of his dynamic personality and leadership, the Philip Yeo hub while studying entrepreneurInitiative aims to identify and ship-related courses at prestigious partner universities. Locations indevelop the next generation clude Silicon Valley and Philadelphia of Singapore’s leaders. The (USA); Shanghai and Beijing (China); gifts will support the Philip Stockholm (Sweden); Bangalore Yeo Entrepreneurial Awards and the Philip Yeo Innovation (India); and Tel Aviv (Israel). The one-year Fellows Programme Fellows at NUS, both to be aims to develop a global network of awarded this year. budding entrepreneurs. The Fellows Former Ascendas chief Ms Chong Siak Ching (Design will visit entrepreneurial hubs overseas and meet with leaders to further and Environment ’81), who their MAD initiatives. Both Awards championed the establishment of these initiatives, said, recipients and Fellows will get to meet Mr Yeo and be mentored by “His brand of leadership is unique. He his local and international network dares to push boundaries and to do of associates. what is right for the nation.” Speaking at the Ms Chong, now Chief Initiative’s launch, NUS Executive Officer of The President Professor Tan National Art Gallery, is a If you have Chorh Chuan said that Mr member of the NUS Board any queries Yeo, “has a genuine interest of Trustees. on the Philip in helping young people The Awards will enable Yeo Initiative, and he continues to be your dynamic entrepreneurial stuplease contact NUS Overseas mentor; it’s a long-term dents to participate for up to Colleges at Email: relationship, which explains one year in the NUS Overseas email@example.com. why there’s such a network College programme. Students sg or Telephone: of goodwill for him”. will undertake an internship at 6515 8063.
am where I am today because of Singapore’s meritocratic society and the PSC Bursary, which enabled me to go to University,” says the soft-spoken Dr Chan Kin Ming (Medicine ’83). In recent years, Dr Chan, a geriatrician, has been giving regularly to support bursaries and scholarships at his alma mater, the National University of Singapore (NUS), through the University’s Annual Giving* campaign. Dr Chan, who set up Singapore’s first geriatric centre at Alexandra Hospital, says, “When you go through university on a bursary, you are mindful that your education has been made possible thanks to someone’s generosity. It ingrained in me the need to help
is the only way students like me improve in which one can their situation.” move out of povDr Chan believes in erty and make a supporting both scholarpositive contribuships and bursaries – to tion to society.” reward excellence and His advice to Dr Chan Kin Ming (Medicine ’83) to give a chance to those the recipients of whose potential remain his gifts is simple. unfulfilled due to financial con“Be grateful. If we have been recipistraints. “There are many such stuents of an act of generosity, we owe For information on dents and that is a waste,” he says. it to ourselves to extend the same to making a gift to Dr Chan knows what he is someone in a similar situation. If the NUS, contact us talking about. He grew up in a “one- at 1800-DEVELOP gift that we have received stops with room, half-hall” flat with his parents (1800-338-3567) us, the cycle of giving ends.” or email askdvo@ and two siblings. His father, a book- nus.edu.sg. Dr Chan is part of the Tan keeper, passed away when Dr Chan If you have a story Jiak Kim Circle, which recognises was in secondary school, leaving his to share, please donors who make an annual gift contact us at family in dire straits financially. of S$10,000 and more to NUS. The whatsyourstory@ A firm believer in the power of Circle is named after the University’s nus.edu.sg. education, Dr Chan says, “Education founding benefactor. OCT–DEC 2013
Alumni Happenings | Events
Alumni kickstart bursary fund with golf tournament National University of Singapore (NUS) alumni have raised over S$180,000 for the NUS Alumni Bursary Fund – an alumni-forstudents initiative that provides financial support to needy NUS students – in an annual golf tournament organised by the NUS Society (NUSS). The sum raised exceeds the initial target of S$150,000 and is the first gift to the newly-formed Fund. Chairperson of the NUS Alumni Bursary Fund, Mr Johnny Tan (Science ’82), said, “Through the NUS Alumni Bursary Fund, we hope to provide the neediest students with the same educational opportunities that we enjoyed at NUS, as well as give them a chance to improve their social mobility. We also hope to cultivate a sense of regular giving among alumni and broaden support for our alma mater. Giving back should be part of our community spirit.” Following the tournament, Emeritus Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong (Arts and Social Sciences ’64), graced an appreciation dinner that was held at the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House. NUSS President Mr David Ho (Arts and Social Sciences ’72), and Golf Convener and Golf Annual Organising Chairperson Mr Joseph Ng presented a cheque to Mr Johnny Tan and NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost, Professor Tan Eng Chye (Science ’85). Prof Tan said, “Over the past five years, NUS has substantially increased its financial aid, particularly to needy Singapore citizens. Many of our students are financiallydisadvantaged. If you would like For them, a to make a gift to bursary is a the Alumni Bursary welcome gift. Fund or encourage A bursary fellow NUS alumni to support this opens many Fund through doors and a class reunion brings many or other alumni activities, call us at opportunities. Its impact can (65) 6516-8000/ 1-800 DEVELOP also be felt far (1-800-338-3567) beyond the or e-mail walls of the firstname.lastname@example.org. University.”
(From left) NUSS Golf Section Convenor and NUSS Golf Annual 2013 Organising Committee Chairperson Mr Joseph Ng, NUSS President Mr David Ho, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye, NUS Alumni Bursary Fund Chairperson Mr Johnny Tan, during the cheque presentation.
nuss groceries on wheels 2013
Hundreds turned up on the morning of 20 July 2013 to support a meaningful drive. This year’s ‘Groceries on Wheels’ – an initiative of the National University of Singapore Society’s (NUSS) – was its fourth installment since the event’s inauguration in 2010. More than 200 members and their families, well-wishers and students, along with a convoy of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, went about delivering 2,100 bags of grocery items to needy households in the South East District. Guest-ofHonour, Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Minister of State, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Defence, and Mayor of South East District, joined volunteers to knock on doors and deliver the groceries.
Volunteers getting ready to deliver groceries to needy and elderly households.
FASS Celebrates Commencement 2013 Students of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Commencement Class of 2013 were the stars of the day as various departments gave their majors a grand finale and warm welcome into the FASS Alumni Family. Students, family, friends and staff came together to celebrate the students’ achievements, show their appreciation to their loved ones and professors, and in many cases, enjoy a wonderful meal together. Graduands left with gifts from their departments like T-shirts (Southeast Asian Studies Department), personalised calligraphy of their names (Chinese Studies Department) and the delightful NUS mascot LiNUS (compliments from the Office of Alumni Relations).
Eastern China Business alumni show their enthusiasm and spirit of volunteerism
2013 Geography graduates
2013 graduates from Japanese Studies
Despite the extreme heat in Shanghai, more than 110 alumni, faculty and staff attended the celebration of the 3rd Committee Installation of the NUS Business School Eastern China Alumni Network (ECAN). Present at the ceremony were NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost, Professor Tan Eng Chye (Science ’85); Dean of the NUS Business School, Professor Bernard Yeung, a number of the faculty and the deanery. Prof Yeung unveiled the event with his welcome speech and shared his pleasure in seeing the enthusiasm alumni have for their alma mater, followed by an opening address by Prof Tan. President of the 2nd ECAN Committee, Mr Lin Yinlu, (Asia Pacific Executive MBA (Chinese) ’00), gave a closing speech which was followed by a gift presentation ceremony to the members of the 2nd Advisory and Executive Committee for their contributions to ECAN. Mr Zhang Runbin, (Asia Pacific Executive MBA (Chinese) ’02) the new President of the 3rd ECAN Committee, said in his address that the new ECAN committee will continue the spirit of volunteerism and develop more exciting events and activities for the alumni community. The event was held on 31 July 2013 at The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong. OCT–DEC 2013
Alumni Happenings | Events
SCIENCE ON SATURDAY ‘Science on Saturday’ is a relatively new series of events organised by the Faculty of Science. Into its second run, this year’s series was held over three Saturdays – 1, 8 and 15 June 2013. The series kick-started with the ever-popular lecture ‘Introduction to the NanoWorld’, where three concurrent hands-on activities were held – ‘Science of Cooking and Molecular Gastronomy’, ‘BASF Kids’ Lab’ and ‘Discovering Physics via Interactive Demonstrations’. Alumni and their families attended a talk on ‘Zoological Explorations in Singapore’ on the following Saturday, where they were also treated to a rare insight of animal remains in ‘Discovering
USP Alumni Dance for Charities More than 700 participants took part in ‘We Will Dance’, Singapore’s first 10-hour fundraising dance marathon on Saturday, 17 August 2013. Organised by a group of alumni from the NUS University Scholars Programme (USP), ‘We Will Dance’ brought together people of all ages who pledged to dance in support of their charity of choice. The event successfully raised over S$33,000, more than half of which will go towards helping financially-disadvantaged students from USP. Other beneficiaries include the Singapore Cancer Society, Home Nursing Foundation and World Food Programme. Participants thoroughly enjoyed themselves, dancing from dawn to dusk, with many looking forward to the second edition of ‘We Will Dance’ to be held next year.
EAS Career Forum The Engineering Alumni Singapore (EAS) organised a career talk on 3 July 2013. Titled ‘Career Forum for Younger and Mid-Career Alumni’, the talk was held at the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI). Two senior NUS alumni who have held appointments in engineering, finance, marketing and planning shared their valuable experiences and gave advice to graduates on career development. Targeted at young alumni who graduated one to five years ago, the event began with a simple alumni networking dinner followed by two presentations titled ‘Your Personal Brand in Career Development’ and ‘Doing Your Job Well Isn’t Enough’.
For more information on EAS or upcoming forums, please visit http://www.easingapore.org/ or email email@example.com.
FASS alumni and students meet-up Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) alumni got together with their mentees, guest students and Faculty members at MEDZS@ Millenia Walk on Wednesday, 21 August 2013. About 200 participants from both the FASS Mentorship and the ‘My FASS Family’ Host Programmes turned up for a combined dinner event. Connecting senior FASS undergraduates to FASS alumni who provide insights on specific career sectors, the FASS Mentorship Programme has 86 mentees and 55 mentors this year. Alumnus Cheong Kok Hwee (Arts and
Social Sciences ’98) (National Parks Board), who has been an FASS mentor since 2007, said that the event ‘‘provided a casual platform” for him to meet his past and present mentees. In turn, his current mentee Joel Koh said that it was great for him to be able to meet his mentor at an informal setting over dinner and that it was good to learn from past mentees. The ‘My FASS Family’ Host Programme is a non-homestay programme that invites FASS Alumni to befriend international students who are in Singapore for the first time. This year, the programme has 21 local hosts and 40 students from 18 countries.
Zoology – Form and Function in Animal Life’. The series ended with a talk on ‘Myths and Facts Surrounding Foods’. This was followed by an educational visit to Alpha Biofuels where alumni and friends saw how biodiesel is made from used cooking oil.
Starting a new chapter in Duke-NUS’ history On 30 May 2013, President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, together with some 900 distinguished guests, faculty, staff, graduates and parents, witnessed the official launch of the Duke-NUS Medical Alumni (DNMA) association. The same evening also saw the DukeNUS’ inaugural fundraising event and graduation Gala Dinner. During the evening’s Gala Dinner, DNMA President (Pro Tem) Dr Chia Ghim Song congratulated the graduating class of 2013 on their tremendous achievement in surmounting the rigorous four-year curriculum. “This is only the beginning of your journey as the study of medicine is lifelong,” he said. “As you graduate from Duke-NUS, I hope that you will bring with you many fond memories of enduring friendships and inspiring mentorships by our dedicated faculty.” Dr Chia also presented the association’s first Honorary Member, Mr Tony Chew, with a certificate and a specially-framed stethoscope, in recognition of his extraordinary service to the School as well as to the wider community. As founding chairman of the Duke-NUS governing board from 2005 to 2012, Mr Chew’s visionary leadership was instrumental to the School’s remarkable growth and accomplishments as well as its strong reputation as an internationally-acclaimed centre for medical education and research. The event also garnered a first donation of S$12,010 for the association’s education and research activities.
DNMA President Dr Chia Ghim Song conferred DNMA’s First Honorary Membership to Mr Tony Chew.
Alumni Happenings | Reunions
Medical Class 1965 Reunion Cruise
five decades of friendship: Medical Class of ’63 Celebrates 6 to 12 July 2013 was an important milestone for the Medical Class of 1963 as they came together to celebrate their 18th reunion, and their 50th year after graduation. A first reunion that began in 1987 led to 17 more reunions and three special anniversary celebrations in Singapore – 30th, 40th, and 50th. These gatherings reunited friends from all corners of the world and gave them numerous opportunities to travel to various countries and cities – Singapore (four reunions), Malaysia (three reunions), Perth (two reunions), Darwin, Adelaide, Melbourne, South Island (New Zealand),
Sydney, Yunnan, Tasmania, Taiwan and South Korea. This year, 40 participants lodged at the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel and participated in varied excursions that included a conducted City Tour, Merlion Park, Singapore River Cruise, River Safari, Panda Viewing, a day trip to Johor, Gardens by the Bay as well as a farewell dinner in Sentosa. Participants took back with them cherished memories of friendships nurtured through five decades. Dr Peter Wee Huat Leong Medicine ’63
This year in June, the Medical Class of 1965 took a 10-day cruise from Singapore to Shanghai on the Mariner of the Seas, with port stops at Vietnam, Hong Kong, Okinawa and Jeju Island. The trip provided much get-together time, and old friendships were renewed. The group plans to visit Adelaide the following year. The Class has been holding reunions regularly since 1975 and these reunions have taken them to different corners of the world including Perth, Albany, Jordan, Syria and China. Dr Frances Woon Medicine ’65
Dentistry Class of ’72 sink their teeth into 41st anniversary
Following their 40th anniversary celebration last year in Singapore, the NUS Dentistry Class of 1972 gathered for another reunion this year in the exotic island of Penang. 36
Held on 28 to 30 June 2013, the reunion was coupled with a seminar hosted by the Malaysian Dental Association (MDA) through the effort of Datuk Dr Teo Choo Kum, a former MDA President. Lectures were delivered by Professor Loh Hong Sai and Professor Michael Ong. Classmates
from different countries sat as a panel discussing questions on the delivery of dentistry in their respective countries. The trip’s highlight was a durian feast in which a lorry load of durians was finished within minutes! Plans are underway for another reunion next year in Kuching, with a mission to search for the elusive lipstick-red durian. Dr Yeoh Oon Soon (Dentistry ’72)
Alumni Happenings | Reunions
Alumni Happenings | Overseas Alumni Chapters
Celebrating 40 years of friendship The NUS Engineering Class of 1973 held a grand 40th Anniversary Reunion dinner on 28 June 2013 at the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS). Senior Minister of State Mr Lee Yi Shyan graced the event as Guest-of-Honour. The Dean, Heads of Departments and former professors were there to welcome the pioneering engineering alumni back to NUS. A large turnout of some 130 classmates from the fields of mechanical, electrical and civil engineering along with corporate friends joined in the celebration. The Chairman of the Reunion Committee presented a cheque of S$150,000 to the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering to set up the Class of 1973 Engineering Bursary.
Overseas Alumni Chapters
ANNOUNCEMENTS 90TH REUNION CELEBRATION MELBOURNE The NUS Melbourne Overseas Alumni Chapter celebrated its 7th Anniversary Annual Reunion Dinner on Saturday, 10 August 2013. Chairperson Dr Soh Leng Lu began the event with an opening address, thanking members of the committee and Associate Professor Tan EngSeong for helping to organise the event. 30 per cent more alumni attended the function this year, an encouraging sight for the Melbourne Overseas Chapter.
A brand new NUS Overseas Alumni Chapter Amid the festive beating of drums and prancing lion dancers, the latest NUS Overseas Alumni Chapter in Xiamen, China was officially inaugurated on 14 September 2013. NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, graced the special occasion, together with Mr Loh Tuck Keat (Arts and Social Sciences ’94), Singapore Consul-General in Xiamen; Professor Zhu Chongshi, President of Xiamen University; Associate Professor Victor R Savage, Director of the NUS Office of Flanked by lion dancers at the inauguration ceremony were (from left) Prof Tan, Assoc Prof Wang and Assoc Prof Savage. Alumni Relations (OAR); Chinese officials of Xiamen City/Fujian Province; and more than 80 NUS connected to their alma mater. These are namely the four As – Xiamen alumni. As the first regional alumni association in Southeast China, AlumNET (OAR’s official website), AlumMAIL (a complimentary the NUS Xiamen Chapter marks the fifth NUS Overseas Alumni lifelong email account for NUS alumni), AlumNUS (NUS’ quarterly Chapter in the country. The others are in Beijing, Shanghai, alumni magazine that keeps its alumni informed of NUS’ Chengdu and Hong Kong. developments), and the Alumni House (a home on campus for all During her welcome address, Chairperson of the Xiamen NUS alumni). Chapter Associate Professor Wang Hui-Qiong (Science ’01) In his speech, Prof Tan highlighted the latest developments thanked former NUS Alumni Advisory Board member Mr Harry and successes of NUS. He noted in particular that NUS and Xiamen Chan for proposing the setup of the Chapter in her hometown. She University have established a good foundation for cooperation and expressed her deep sense of pride in being an NUS alumnus and hoped that both universities will continue to collaborate in areas called upon fellow alumni to stay connected to their alma mater. such as new energy, life sciences and sustainable development. In his welcome address, Assoc Prof Savage conveyed his He encouraged all alumni to make use of the newly established appreciation to Assoc Prof Wang and her committee for making Chapter as a platform for mutual exchange and learning, as well as the launch possible. He also highlighted to Xiamen alumni the maintain their ties with the University. key initiatives OAR has implemented, to help them stay easily Dr Cai Shumei (Arts and Social Sciences ’12) 38
BEIJING The NUS Beijing Overseas Alumni Chapter welcomed new graduates on 27 July 2013. 98 alumni joined the event. Mr Wang Jinbao, the chapter’s secretary, gave a lecture about smart city and Chinese city development. Mr Zang Jinjun, an alumnus from the Class of 2013, shared his study experience at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and his feelings about joining the chapter. Chairperson Mr Sun Liyong then outlined the chapter’s plans for the second half of 2013.
The Alumni Association will be hosting the 90th Reunion celebration in Singapore from 15 to 17 November 2013. You are cordially invited to join us in this grand celebration. For more information, please write in to admin@ medicalalumni. org.sg or call 6223 4680
Engineering Alumni Gala Dinner 2013 1 November 2013, Friday, 6:30pm NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House To reserve a table, please contact Desmond at firstname.lastname@example.org or 6516 7925
The NUS London Overseas Alumni Chapter held its annual reunion dinner on 17 August 2013. Organised by the chapter’s chairperson Dr Tan Peng Guan, the reunion was attended by Guest-of-honour Mr Stephen Quick and some 80 alumni and guests. Guests enjoyed a selection of Singaporean dishes, from chapatti to Hokkien noodles and laksa, at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Central London. Elaine Lee (Law ’98)
KUCHING Formed in 2000, the NUS Kuching Overseas Alumni Chapter celebrated its 13th anniversary on 17 August 2013. Chairperson Mr Paul Kho shared his delight in seeing the chapter grow from strength to strength, with alumni of different age groups as members. He encouraged more senior and junior alumni to join activities organised by the chapter.
BANGKOK The first-ever NUS Bangkok alumni dinner was held on 21 August 2013. The event provided alumni with an opportunity to meet and get to know one another better. Participants exchanged memories of their time in NUS and kept abreast of the latest developments at their University. OCT–DEC 2013
第二届中国电影节 China Film Festival 2013 Dates
19 to 24 October 2013
Shaw Foundation Alumni House National University of Singapore, 11 Kent Ridge Drive, Singapore 119244
Free Admission Please register your interest online at
19 October 2013 (By Invitation Only) & 21 October 2013
23 October 2013
致我们终将逝去的青春 So Young
搜索 Caught in the Web
132 MIN / RATING : PG13 导演 / Director: 赵薇 / Vicky Zhao Wei
121 MIN / RATING: PG13 导演 / Director: 陈凯歌 / Chen Kaige
《致我们终将逝去的青春》是中国著名女演员赵薇的导演处女作。影片改 编自著名作家辛夷坞的同名小说，由香港著名导演关锦鹏担任监制。影片讲述 了校园里青春的悸动与张扬、爱情的美好与伤感以及现实生活中的无奈与苍 凉。 20世纪90年代初，18岁的郑微心怀着对林静浓浓的爱意，终于如愿考上 他所在学校的邻校，却遭遇打击——林静出国留学，并且没有留下任何联系方 式，杳无音信。郑微与她的室友们结下深厚的友谊，一起开始大学生活。一次偶 然的误会使郑微与陈孝正结为死敌，在一次次地反击中，郑微发现自己爱上了 这个表面冷酷、内心善良的高材生，于是疯狂地反击演变为死缠烂打地追求，而 陈孝正也终于在强攻之下缴械投降，欢喜冤家终成甜蜜恋人。大四毕业之际郑 微的生活再次经受考验：陈孝正迫于家庭压力选择出国留学，却迟迟不敢告诉 郑微。感觉再次被欺骗的郑微痛苦地离开陈孝正，决定重新开始。十年后，郑微 已蜕变为职场上的白领丽人，竟再次品尝命运的无常：带着悔意和爱意的林静 和陈孝正同时回到她的生活里，促使郑微重新思考和选择自己的人生道路。
都市白领叶蓝秋（高圆圆饰演），意外查出淋巴癌晚期。当天在公交车上 上拒不给老大爷（常宝华饰演）让座，并因为一时之气话，彻底改写了牵连其 中的数人的命运。上市集团老总—城中富豪沈流舒（王学圻饰演）因此陷入 不安的漩涡；阔太太莫小渝（陈红饰演）勇敢地从被人羡慕嫉妒恨的婚姻家 庭中落荒而逃；媒体新鲜人杨佳琪（王珞丹饰演）因此 看透职场冷漠并借机 成功上位；资深电视人陈若兮（姚晨饰演）因此红极一时却又急转直下职场 情场两失意；失业且负债累累的杨守诚（赵又廷饰演）因此获得一笔意外之 财，却也因此经历了一场灵魂的“意外旅行”。 叶蓝秋宛若南美洲丛林中的一只蝴蝶，煽动翅膀，引发了一场发生在中国南 方都市里的“南太平洋风暴”。七天时间，因为一件公车上发生的小概率事 件，十几个人被卷入其中，生活被迫推离既有的轨道，甚至命运都被彻底改 写。
SO YOUNG is the debut film of the renowned Chinese actress Zhao Wei as a director. It is based on the best-selling novel "To Our Youth that is Fading Away" by Xin YiwuIt, adapted by Li Qiang ("The Postmodern Life of My Aunt") and produced by Stanley Kwan. It is a film about the love, joy, and pain of a group of young students in their school days and their harsh confrontation with the realities and a lament on the loss of youth to adulthood. In the brink of the 90s, 18-year-old Zheng Wei steps into her university life with a hopeful heart for love. She forms a great friendship with her roommates and united as a group, they embark on their university life together. Wei meets Chen Hao-Zheng in a chance encounter, and despite initial reluctance, Chen accepts Wei as his girlfriend and the two become inseparable. Four years of university life pass and Wei looks forward to establishing a life together with Chen. However, Chen is forced into an impossible decision to leave Wei. Devastated, Wei decides to start afresh. A decade later, Wei's previous lovers Lin and Chen both find their way back into her life and she has to make a choice of her next step in life.
22 October 2013
全城高考 Mark of Youth
98 MIN / RATING: PG 导演 / Director: 钟少雄 / Zhong Shao Xiong
So Young 19 October (By Invitation Only) 21 October
Caught in the Web 23 October
Mark of Youth 22 October
联办 中华人民共和国驻新加坡共和国大使馆 Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Singapore
American Dreams in China 24 October
这是一所百年老校，市示范校之一。高三九班班主任“范义本”（方中信饰） 带领全班同学在高考冲刺的最后阶段中发生的一系列的故事。 剧中以当代社会最为典型的真实题材为基础，集中体现了来自四个不同家 庭发生种种的情况。真实反映社会普遍的几组家庭中的故事。以四名学生备战 高考的紧张倒计时阶段作为主线。任雪（陆翊饰）班长，被父亲逼迫到海外留 学，和父亲（吴刚饰）反目导致离家出走。林叶（乔乔饰）任雪的闺蜜，因为父母 离异导致对高考的放弃，贺帆（吴俊余饰）学习委员。因为家里筹备大学的学费 被奸商诈骗。父亲贺江海（大秦饰）为保护儿子打伤人被拘留，导致生活压力的 加大。秦鹏（谭杰希饰）偏科大王。对阳光自信，喜欢搞一些恶作剧，由于作文 跑题导致高考成绩面临危机。在这四位学面临放弃高考的边缘时， “范义本”老 师独特的教育手段和同学自身的努力最终解决了来自家庭和自身的各种问题。 同时本片不乏正处于青春期情感萌芽的同学们之间的情感，以及青春期叛 逆萌芽的同学们和老师之间的“矛盾”和“斗争”。充分写实当代各个家庭中的 普遍的问题，同时也反映了可怜天下父母心和以及当今学生与家长之间存在的 隔膜。也诠释了“范义本”老师的独特教育方式。 MARK OF YOUTH follows the lives of four students as they prepare and sit for their final high school exams that determine if and where they can attend university. True reflection of society in several groups of family stories. Qing Peng (Tan Jiexi) is a charming rogue who has better things to do than study, Ren Xue (Lu Yi) is his pretty and popular girlfriend whose father is forcing her to study abroad. Lin Ye (Qiao Qiao) is the soft and gentle best friend of Ren Xue and He Fan (Wu Jun Yu) who is academically brilliant but faces a life of poverty. Their head teacher is Fan Yi Ben (Alex Fong) who is passionate about helping his students do well in their exams and helping them deal with distractions.
The story begins on a bus, when white-collar worker Ye refuses to give up her seat to a senior citizen. Her defiance is videotaped by a journalist intern and played during a news show. The video sparks intense debate on and off the Internet. Some Internet users search for Ye's personal information and post it all online. The issue soon brings tremendous changes to the families of both the journalist intern and Ye's boss. Set in modern-day China, a young woman becomes embroiled in controversy after a cell phone video of her being disrespectful on a public bus to an elderly person goes viral. The aftermath affects her personal and professional life and brings her face to face with the video's poster, an ambitious journalist.
24 October 2013
中国合伙人 American Dreams in China
112 MIN / RATING: PG 导演 / Director: 陈可辛 / Chen Ke Xin 20世纪80年代，三个怀有热情和梦想的年轻人在高等学府燕京大学的 校园内相遇，从此展开了他们长达三十年的友谊和梦想征途。出生于留学世 家的孟晓骏（邓超 饰）渴望站在美国的土地上改变世界，浪漫自由的王阳（ 佟大为 饰）尽情享受改革开放初期那蓬勃激昂的青春气息，曾两次高考落榜 的农村青年成冬青（黄晓明 饰）以晓骏为目标努力求学，并收获了美好的爱 情。然而三个好友最终只有晓骏获得美国签证，现实和梦想的巨大差距让冬 青和王阳倍受打击。偶然机缘，被开除公职的冬青在王阳的帮助下办起了英 语培训学校，开始品尝到成功的喜悦。在美国发展不顺的晓骏回国并加入学 校，无疑推动三个好友朝着梦想迈进了一大步。 只是随着成功的降临，他们的友情也开始承受严峻的考验…… It is a story about a period in China when undergraduates are infatuated with America and believe it’s their only hope of a good future. It begins in 1985, during China’s national study-abroad craze, a time when undergraduates are infatuated with America and believe it’s their only hope of a good future. Three close buddies at Beijing’s prestigious Yanjing U. — Cheng Dongqing (Huang Xiaoming), Wang Yang (Tong Dawei) and Meng Xiaojun (Deng Chao) —are three friends studying at university in Beijing and simultaneously prepping for American visa interviews. Wang is the first to be granted one but forfeits it to stay with his Western girlfriend, and Cheng is repeatedly denied one. Only Meng actually gets a study visa, and as he’s leaving he tells his friends he has no intention of returning to China...
每部电影开始前将放映 《不同方式游中国》一部介绍中国风光的12分钟 纪录片。 A 12-min documentary, 《Enjoy China in Different Ways》 featuring the beauty of China will be screened at 8pm before the start of each movie. 所有电影片将附英文字幕。 All movies have English subtitles.
linchpin of numerous early music groups, Paula Chateauneuf has earned a reputation as one of the most respected and admired musicians in the early music world. Fournier Trio
Celebrate the classics with these stellar performances. CONSERVATORY ORCHESTRA OPEN REHEARSAL: CLAUS PETER FLOR BRUCKNER Excerpts from Symphony No. 7 in E major
6pm, 10 October 2013 (Thursday), Conservatory Orchestra Hall Claus Peter Flor returns to the conservatory for the first time since his visit two years ago as the Ong Teng Cheong Visiting Professor in Music for 2010/2011. A gifted conductor with an instinctive and invigorating approach to music, Flor’s career has allowed him to share his music with the world. Having performed with prestigious orchestras worldwide, he visits the Conservatory for a detailed exploration of Bruckner's Symphony No. 7, ahead of his engagement with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra on 12 October 2013, where he will conduct the same work. Join us to discover the inner workings of the piece.
The Conservatory Orchestra Musicians of the Orchestre Des Champs-Elysées JASON LAI, conductor WANG ZIHAO, cello DVORÁK Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191 MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56, “Scottish”
Visiting Artist Series
ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE MELVYN TAN WITH CELLIST GUY JOHNSTON CHOPIN CHOPIN
Sonata for cello and piano Op. 65 Introduction and Polonaise Brilliante Op. 3 MARK-ANTHONY TURNAGE Sleep on (Three lullabies for Cello and Piano) MENDELSSOHN Sonata in D major Op. 58
7.30pm, 16 October 2013 (Wednesday), Conservatory Concert Hall Over the last decade, Guy Johnston has forged a place as one of the leading cellists of his generation. Born into a musical family, Johnston joined his brothers in the choir of King's College Cambridge and went on to study with Steven Doane, David Waterman, Steven Isserlis, Ralph Kirshbaum and Bernard Greenhouse. Recognised early in his career, Johnson was voted BBC's Young Musician of 2000, played at the 2001 Opening Night of the Proms and received a Classical Brit Award for his work. Melvyn Tan has built up a formidable international reputation as a versatile keyboard player. He travelled to the origins of his instrument to rediscover it, and in doing so earned worldwide acclaim as a leading exponent of the fortepiano and the broader ‘early music movement’. Melvyn Tan is Artistin- Residence at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music for the period 2012-2015. Ones To Watch
FOURNER TRIO RECITAL SULKI YU, violin PEI-JEE NG, cello CHIAO-YING CHANG, piano
New Music Ensemble
Melvyn Tan Claus Peter Flor
Competition in 2011. The trio has made critically acclaimed debuts at both the Purcell Room and Wigmore Hall in London and in 2011. They embarked on their first European Tour after their selection for 'New Masters on Tour' at the International Holland Music Sessions. The tour culminated in their debut at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. During the trio's early years they were Leverhulme Chamber Music Fellows at the Royal Academy
7.30pm, 19 October 2013 (Saturday), Conservatory Concert Hall Formed in 2009, the London-based Fournier Piano Trio is rapidly emerging as one of the leading young piano trios. Winners of the 2013 Parkhouse Award, they were awarded both the 2nd Prize and Audience Prize at the 6th Trondheim International Chamber Music
All information correct at time of print and is subject to change without prior notice. Please visit www.music.nus.edu.sg for updates.
Visiting Artist Series
Conservatory Orchestra Series
of Music, where they worked with renowned pedagogues Thomas Brandis, Christopher Elton, Michael Dussek and Sung-Won Yang in addition to their duties as mentors to student chamber groups. Since 2011 the Fournier Trio have been 'Artist-in-Residence' at Wolfson College, University of Oxford where they perform recitals and conduct masterclasses. Possessing a passion for contemporary music, the trio has worked with leading British composers Gary Carpenter, Hugh Wood, Timothy Salter and Daniel Kidane to expand the piano trio repertoire. The trio plans to record their debut album later this year for USK Recordings. Conservatory Concerto Competition
7.30pm, 26 October 2013 (Saturday) Conservatory Concert Hall First-prize winners in the Violin, Lower Strings, Wind/Brass/Percussion/Harp/Voice and Piano sections of the Conservatory Concerto Competition. The annual concerto competition kicks off a series of challenges among conservatory young and talented soloists. The top winners that emerge from the sea of battle will be crowned with soloist orchestral opportunities in the next season with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (Grand Prize) and the Conservatory Orchestra.
Visiting Artist Series
A HUNDRED YEARS OF ITALIAN VIRTUOSITY
Pavlo Beznosiuk, violin Paula Chateauneuf, the orbo BIAGIO MARINI (1594-1663) Sonata for violin solo, “per sonar con due corde” GIOVANNI BATTISTA FONTANA (1571-1630) Sonata Sesta (published 1641) DARIO CASTELLO (1590-1658) Sonata Seconda (Libro Secondo 1629) ANONYMOUS Passacaglia for theorbo (Circa 1675) CARLO AMBROGIO LONATI (1645-1705) Sonata No. 3 in D minor (1701) ARCANGELO CORELLI (1653-1713) Violin Sonata No. 10 in F major, Op. 5, No. 10 (1700) ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678-1741) Violin Sonata No. 10 in F major, Op. 5, No. 10 (1700) GIUSEPPE TARTINI (1692-1770) Sonata in G minor, “The Devil’s Trill”
7.30pm, 29 October 2013 (Tuesday) Conservatory Orchestra Hall Experience this performance of passionate musical pieces of the 17th and 18th centuries, from the earliest solo sonatas by Marini, Fontana and Castello to flamboyant works by Corelli and Vivaldi, and Tartini's Devil's Trill. Ukrainian/Irish violinist Pavlo Beznosiuk has been described as "an artist with star quality". Renowned for his virtuosity and versatility, Beznosiuk has secured a reputation for being one of Europe's greatest Baroque violinists. Soloist, accompanist, teacher and
7.30pm, 9 November 2013 (Saturday) Conservatory Concert Hall. S$15 Wang Zihao, winner of 2012/13 Concerto Competition Lower Strings category, performs Dvorák's last solo concerto, which was written between 1894 and 1895 in New York. Next — after a successful and well-received collaboration in March 2012 — musicians from the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées return to lead the Conservatory Orchestra in Mendelssohn’s famous Scottish Symphony, a melancholic work that was inspired by Mendelssohn’s experience of the harsh Scottish landscape. Spectrum Series
CONSERVATORY NEW MUSIC ENSEMBLE: CONTEMPLATIO Conservatory New Music Ensemble CHAN TZE LAW, conductor LI XIN, clarinet CHOU WEN-CHUNG Twilight Colours KELLY TANG Radiance JOSHUA PANGILINAN When You Contemplate the Waters JOHN ADAMS Gnarly Buttons
7.30pm, 13 November 2013 (Wednesday) Esplanade Recital Studio, S$15/20 The Conservatory New Music Ensemble showcases four works with unique collaborative elements: Influential composer Chou Wen-Chung's Twilight Colours, inspired by colours of changing sky and influenced by Chinese brush painters of the early 17th century; Singapore composer Kelly Tang's Radiance, a piece commissioned by Esplanade, Theatres by the Bay, in commemoration of its 10th anniversary; When You Contemplate the Waters by young Conservatory student composer Joshua Pangilinan; and John Adam's Gnarly Buttons featuring Conservatory alumni and Associate Principal Clarinetist of SSO, Li Xin.
g n i k Mae Past thesent Pr
Indulge the senses Treat yourself to the best in artistic expression.
Come 2014, a grand ‘pre-historic’ boulder-like structure will be unveiled alongside the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and National University of Singapore (NUS) Museum at NUS. The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, which ‘succeeds’ the Faculty of Science’s Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR), will be Singapore’s first purpose-built natural history museum.
Wonderland NUS Chinese Orchestra 5pm, 12 October 2013 (Saturday), UCC Theatre, S$10. Please contact email@example.com for ticket enquiries Join the NUS Chinese Orchestra as they visit the wonderland of Japanese animation classics in an afternoon of soundtracks from beloved films such as My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Laputa and Howl’s Moving Castle. Also presenting music from popular Japanese games such as Super Mario and Final Fantasy X, the concert promises to take audiences on a journey through the magic of animation.
Europa Da Capo Da Capo
Europa Ron Korb 8pm, 23 October 2013 (Wednesday), UCC Theatre Ron Korb is an internationally-renowned flautist and composer with more than thirty critically-acclaimed solo releases in over twenty countries. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in music performance, he travelled the globe for years studying and collecting flutes from various countries. Korb’s talent has been employed in dozens of films by award-winning directors including Ang Lee, Mira Nair, John Woo and Atom Egoyan, and in the works of composers such as Mychael Danna. Join Korb on a musical tour across the globe and be delighted by classical works and contemporary arrangements with an ethnic twist, from his new awardwinning album, Europa.
Through the Looking Glass – A 35th Anniversary Celebration NUS Dance Synergy 8pm, 25 October 2013 (Friday), UCC Hall, S$20, S$25 (excluding SISTIC fee). Tickets are available at all SISTIC authorised agents. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org Led by Artistic Director & Resident Choreographer, Mr Fan Dong Kai, NUS Dance Synergy celebrates its 35th anniversary by looking at the complex relationship between the dancer and the mirror. As dancers persevere through the process of working with their reflections and overcoming boundaries, their senses are awakened, leading to infinite possibilities Will they break through the looking glass to emerge more confident and embrace new beginnings?
NUS Wind Come Cannibalise Us, Symphony Why Don't You? 7pm, 26 October 2013 (Saturday) UCC Hall, S$15. Please contact email@example.com for ticket enquiries NUS Wind Symphony brings you a stellar night at the Oscars with a programme of music from Oscarwinning films. Highlights include a wind band arrangement of Camille SaintSaëns’ The Carnival of Animals, which movie-goers would recognise as the music from Disney’s Fantasia and The Godfather movie soundtrack. Come enjoy lively familiar favourites from Disney’s Mary Poppins and The Lion King or take in the tragic beauty of the theme from Schindler’s List. Fun for the whole family, Da Capo VIII promises to enchant and dazzle the audience!
Come cannibalise us, why don’t you? Erika Tan Till 31 January 2014 VEG Gallery, NUS Museum Emerging from an ongoing discussion between artist Erika Tan and NUS Museum curators about the
The Museum – which has seen an outpouring of public interest and generous gifts from various donors – will be home to more than 500,000 rare Southeast Asian animal and plant specimens, some dating back to the 1840s. Spanning 8,500 sq m, the museum will also be home to Singapore’s first dinosaur family.
Da Capo VIII
Photo credit: Erika Tan, Jail Museum Mirror, Digital Print, 2013 All information correct at time of print and is subject to change without prior notice. Please visit www.nus.edu.sg/cfa for updates.
NUS Harmonica Orchestra 3.30pm, 12 October 2013 (Saturday), library@esplanade Impressions 2013 showcases the versatility and uniqueness of harmonica music in a fun and interactive manner. The NUS Harmonica Orchestra will perform light-hearted and uplifting pieces ranging from classical works such as Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in A minor, I. Allegro, to more popular easylistening fare such as Joe Hisaishi's Totoro Suite. To make things more exciting and hands-on, the audience will also get a chance to try their hand at playing the harmonica together with the orchestra members!
heterogeneous potential of a museum object, the colloquially-titled Come Cannibalise Us, Why Don’t You? is an artist installation that revisits and adapts artefacts and writings from the exhibition Camping and Tramping Through The Colonial Archive: The Museum in Malaya (2011-2013) alongside newer artworks developed by the artist that include film, sculpture and works on paper. The guiding principle being a form of aesthetic cannibalism, speculative in its method and oscillating between formats, the sitespecific installation reveals the contingent rules and contextual considerations of the colonial museum in Malaya as it came to be framed in the 19th century and the particular interpretative technologies and translationary mediums that continue to murmur a discourse in the contemporary postcolonial present.
University Cultural Centre (UCC)
50 Kent Ridge Crescent National University of Singapore Singapore 119279 Tel:  6516 2492 Fax:  6778 1956 Nearest MRT: Clementi, Kent Ridge Website: www.nus.edu.sg/cfa Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/NUSCFA Twitter: www.twitter.com/ NUSCFA
University Cultural Centre 50 Kent Ridge Crescent National University of Singapore Singapore 119279 Tel:  6516 8817 Fax:  6778 3738 Website: www.nus.edu.sg/ museum Email: email@example.com Blog: www.nusmuseum.blogspot. com Opening hours 10am – 7.30pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays) 10am – 6pm (Sundays) Closed on Mondays and Public Holidays
Through The Looking Glass
The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is currently welcoming support for the RMBR Museum Exhibit Fund. Support for this Fund will go a long way in creating, curating and maintaining the many exciting exhibits at the Museum, ensuring an enriching educational experience for all. You can now make a gift online at www.annualgiving. nus.edu.sg/onlinegift/RMBR/.
For informatio n on making a gift RMBR Museum to the Ex Fund, contact hibits us at 6516 5082 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .sg.
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Promoting a culture of gratitude Kong Su May Arts and Social Sciences ’96
Kong Su May, a vice-principal of a primary school, gives every year to her alma mater, the National University of Singapore (NUS). She tells AlumNUS how to develop resilient children and why it is never too early to teach them about giving. Do you have any particular memories of NUS? The best parts of my University years were spending time with my schoolmates, studying together, going for jogs around the University, swimming, playing tennis and participating in various activities on campus. How has NUS helped is unique and has his or For information on you get to where you her talent. There is no one making a gift to are today? definition of success or talent. NUS, contact us at The NUS environment 1800-DEVELOP (1800338-3567) or email promotes critical When you give, What are your email@example.com. thinking, independent hopes for the recipients? If you have a story to learning and To value the education given share, please contact independence, which to him or her and, when us at whatsyourstory@ is helpful in what I he or she is successful, to nus.edu.sg. am doing. The culture offer something in return is vibrant and there to society. are numerous opportunities for interacting with others, and this Do you think it is important for has helped nurture my social skills. alumni to give to NUS? Why? Yes. It promotes the culture of What is the best lesson that you gratitude and helps provide a goodlearnt in NUS? quality education for those who are NUS taught me that everyone less-privileged.
Should primary school students be taught about giving? Yes. Children need to learn that it is always more of a blessing to be able to give than to receive so that they will not grow up self-centred. What is your advice for parents who have children in primary school? Parents need to learn when to let go and not be overprotective. Give children room to explore, make mistakes and learn, so that they can become more resilient. Parents should also work hand-in-hand with schools, as a community, to educate the young. As an African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child”.
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OCT to Nov 2013
Main photo: Shutterstock; other photo: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reprinted with permission.
Former National Development Minister Lim Kim San (Arts ’39) on what compelled him to volunteer to join the then-new Housing and Development Board, which picked up where the old Singapore Improvement Trust left off
All information is correct at time of print and is subject to change without prior notice.
A shortage of housing after World War II meant hundreds of people sometimes crammed into a single house.
I once went to Upper Nanking Street to look at the housing conditions of the poor. What a shocking experience. I went into a three-storey shophouse with one lavatory and two bathrooms. We counted 200 tenants living in the dark and damp. It was an inhuman and degrading existence. In those days, there were shops which pulled clothing and shoes off the dead to sell them. ‘My God,’ I thought to myself, ‘I really must help these people.’
Dates to REMEMBER
10 OCTOBER (THU)
6.30pm, Switch by Timbre Register at http://alumnet.nus.edu.sg/event/tt101013 Enquiries: Ms Veronica Au at email@example.com
19 – 24 OCTOBER
31 OctOBER (Thu)
Senior Alumni Tea and Chat
4pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Enquiries: Ms Irene See at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feature Flicks: Frankenweenie (PG)
7.30pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Enquiries: Ms Wendy Ng at email@example.com
China Film Festival 2013
8pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at http://alumnet.nus.edu.sg/event/cnff2013 (19 October – Private event by invitation only) Enquiries: Ms Wendy Ng at firstname.lastname@example.org
24 OCTOBER (Thu)
NUS Alumni & Friends Golf Tournament
1pm, Raffles Country Club, Lake Course Register at http://alumnet.nus.edu.sg/event/anfgolf2013/ Enquiries: Ms Josephine Chow at email@example.com
30 OctOBER (Wed)
U@live featuring Dr Vivian Balakrishnan
7.30pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Enquiries: Ms Valerie Vincent at firstname.lastname@example.org
NOVEMBER 27 NovEMBER (Wed)
U@live featuring Mdm Halimah Yacob
7.30pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Register at www.nus.edu.sg/alumnet Enquiries: Ms Valerie Vincent at email@example.com
28 NovEMBER (Thu)
Senior Alumni Tea and Chat
4pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Enquiries: Ms Irene See at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feature Flicks: Wreck It Ralph (PG)
Feature Flicks: Wreck It Ralph (PG) 7.30pm, Shaw Foundation Alumni House Enquiries: Ms Wendy Ng at email@example.com