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ISSN: 0129-3583

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Enduring Bonds



FIRST WORD Joy and celebration exude from the pages of this issue – reflecting the vibrancy of our NUS community.

Commencement 2012 was a memorable milestone for over 9,900 new alumni as they began their journeys in pursuit of individual dreams and aspirations. So too were the Alumni Day homecomings held at the Bukit Timah and Kent Ridge Campuses in July, during which alumni from different cohorts came together to rekindle friendships and revel in warm camaraderie. And as for our latest batch of freshmen, brimming with bright ideas and effervescent zeal, what better occasion than Rag Day to induct them into a holistic campus experience that enriches their lives and builds the NUS spirit? A great community, enduring bonds and cherished traditions – these, and more, are good reasons for us to celebrate. In reading this issue, we hope you will feel as we do, pride and joy in being part of Asia’s leading university.


The NUS spirit in full bloom on Rag Day 2012

Assoc Prof Lim Meng Kin Director, NUS Office of Alumni Relations

OCT-DEC 2012






This was the inaugural commencement for which Dr Tony Tan (Science ‘62) presided over as Chancellor of NUS


NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan urged the Class of 2012 to continue the university’s tradition of serving the community.

In recognition of his decades of service and leadership, Mr SR Nathan was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Dr Tony Tan.


A moment to savour for graduates, their families and the NUS community.

Fresh beginnings and a celebration of excellence and commitment to service – well done, Class of 2012! A sense of accomplishment and promises fulfilled; the expectation of even greater rewards (and challenges) to come – these were the hallmarks of one of the most joyful occasions on the NUS calendar, Commencement 2012. Held at the University Cultural Centre from 5 to 13 July, this year saw over 9,900 graduates receiving 2


their degrees, NUS’ biggest cohort in six years. This annual rite of passage was also special for another reason; it marked Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam’s inaugural commencement as Chancellor of NUS. Addressing graduates at the opening commencement ceremony on 5 July, NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan noted the qualities that distinguished the Class of 2012 and urged them to greater heights. “They have truly embodied the NUS spirit of excellence, courage and boldness,” he said. “Beyond their academic achievements, they have made their mark in research, competitions, sports, enterprise

and community service. We are confident that they will continue to make a difference to the community around them.” Another resonant theme of the ceremony was dedication to service, a virtue embodied by our 2012 Honorary Doctor of Letters recipient, Mr SR Nathan (Social Work ’54), President of Singapore from 1999 to 2011. Having joined the civil service as a medical social worker after graduating, Mr Nathan distinguished himself in numerous roles (among them High Commissioner to Malaysia; Ambassador to the United States of America; and Ambassador-at-Large) before assuming the Presidency. As Singapore’s longestserving President, he also concurrently held the position of Chancellor of NUS. Speaking to the graduates before him, Mr Nathan encouraged them to learn NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan the past in order to take on the challenges to come. “Develop a sense of history, an understanding of the changes that our nation has undergone,” he said. “Singapore in the future will face new challenges, and so will you personally. But you will also find, as I did, that wrestling with difficulties helps you grow as individuals... [and] you will find that taking on the difficult things will give you greater knowledge of yourself and of the world around you.”


For more on Commencement 2012 and other highlights for July and August, turn to pages 10–17.


Master of Science Real Estate and Urban Economics Master of Science Integrated Sustainable Design Bachelor of Computing Computational Biology; part of the NUS-Brown University Concurrent Degree Programme Master in Public Policy NUS-University of Tokyo Double Degree Programme Master of Science Supply Chain Management Master of Science Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management); part of the NUS-Delft University of Technology Double Degree Programme Master of Science Offshore Technology


Total number of ceremonies held over nine days (including two sessions each on a Saturday and Sunday)


Number of graduates who received higher degrees


Number of undergrads who received first degrees


New members of NUS’ global alumni community. Welcome to the family, Class of 2012!

OCT–DEC 2012



Green promise PhD students lauded for environmental research.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo tours the new learning facilities at the CeTM.

FACING UP TO CHALLENGES Leading-edge learning and research facilities at NUS for tomorrow’s doctors and nurses. NUS’ Centre for Translational Medicine (CeTM) is designed to bring learning and research for students to a new level of rigour and sophistication. The goal? To prepare tomorrow’s doctors and nurses for increasingly complex healthcare challenges. Opened on 3 July by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Research Foundation, the CeTM brings together NUS’ three missions of medical education, research and clinical excellence. Among the many new facilities at the CeTM is the Centre for Healthcare Simulation. One of the largest 4


simulation centres for clinical education and practice in the region, it allows students to learn within simulated medical environments such as an operating theatre, intensive care unit and emergency room, among others. The CeTM will also serve as a hub for new research; centres that are now based there include the Cardiovascular Research Institute, the Cancer Science Institute, the Singapore Eye Research Institute and the Clinical Imaging Research Centre. Half of the CeTM’s space will also be devoted to collaborative research programmes for stroke, diabetes and dementia, as well as cardiovascular and infectious diseases.

CETM: FACTS AND FACILITIES • A 15-storey, 41,500-sq m learning and research hub on the Kent Ridge campus, close to the National University Hospital • Advanced simulated learning spaces to better prepare students to work in realworld medical environments • Two-storey Medical Library • Lecture theatres and seminar rooms wired for interactive learning • Leading-edge research laboratories and resources

In July, five outstanding NUS PhD students received this year’s World Future Foundation (WFF) PhD Prize in Environmental and Sustainability Research. As the only such award in Singapore, the prize seeks to recognise excellence in doctoral-level “green” research, with five winners each from NUS and Nanyang Technological University receiving US$10,000 for their work on environmental sustainability. Taking the honours for NUS this year were: • Dr Chen Jie, Faculty of Science • Dr Panu Sukitpaneenit, Faculty of Engineering • Dr Kuppan Saravanan, Faculty of Science • Dr Wei Yuting, Faculty of Engineering • Dr Zhang Wei, Faculty of Engineering Speaking at the awards ceremony,

NUS Vice Provost (Education) Prof Tan Thiam Soon noted the quality of the 110 proposals received, saying, “Our winners have once again distinguished themselves with their high-quality projects and by demonstrating passion, creativity and innovation in developing multidisciplinary solutions towards solving environmental problems.” This sentiment was also echoed by Dr Feng Lun, Chairman of the WFF Board and a committed social entrepreneur. Established in 2010, the WFF is a Singapore-based philanthropic foundation dedicated to promoting research on environmental issues.


Dr Kuppan Saravanan’s winning proposal looks at ways to enhance lithiumion (Li-ion) batteries as a possible solution to our energy woes. Studying new, eco-friendly electrode materials to use for Li-ion batteries, he created a meso-porous titanium oxide alternative that combines excellent energy storage with low cost. With funding from Singapore’s National Research Foundation, Dr Saravanan and his team are now working to scale up production of the material for further study.

One of five NUS recipients of the 2012 WFF PhD Prize in Environmental and Sustainability Research, Dr Kuppan Saravanan is working to enhance Li-ion batteries through the use of novel materials.


Mr Po’ad Bin Shaik Abu Bakar Mattar

In June, the university was proud to announce as its third Pro-Chancellor Mr Po’ad Bin Shaik Abu Bakar Mattar. A member of Singapore’s Council of Presidential Advisers, Mr Mattar also serves with the Public Service Commission and is on the Board of Directors of numerous leading companies (among them Hong Leong Finance Ltd; Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd; Keppel Offshore and Marine Ltd; and NIE International Pte Ltd). He was awarded the Public Service Medal (PBM) in 2002, the Public Service Star (BBM) in 2007 and the MUIS Distinguished Service Award in 2010. Mr Mattar, 64, joins fellow NUS Pro-Chancellors Mr Ngiam Tong Dow (Arts and Social Sciences ‘59) and Dr Cheong Siew Keong (Doctor of Letters ‘82).

In July, NUS welcomed three distinguished alumni – Ms Janet Ang, Ms Jocelyn Chng and Mr David Ho – to its Alumni Advisory Board. We look forward to working with them to advance the cause of alumni relations at the university.

Ms Janet Ang (Business ‘82) Managing Director, IBM Singapore Ms Jocelyn Chng (Arts and Social Sciences ‘89, APEX-E MBA ‘12) Managing Director, Sin Hwa Dee Foodstuff Industries Mr David Ho (Arts and Social Sciences ‘72) Managing Director, Windmill International; President, NUS Society

OCT–DEC 2012



Taking flight Letting art lead us to distant places.


By Wong Kah Chun (Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music ’11)

WATER DRAGONS Scoring a double victory through grit and passion.

After months of intensive training, our dragon boat teams showed their winning spirit on race day.

In July, NUS’ student rowers led the way at the Singapore Dragon Boat Festival 2012 to secure the men’s and women’s Prime Minister Challenge Trophies. Competing against teams from Nanyang Technological University, the Singapore Institute of Management and Singapore Management University, our student rowers prevailed to take joint honours for the second consecutive year, spurred on, no doubt, by the full-throated encouragement of their supporters onshore. Well done, water dragons!

SEEDing the future Eager to make a real difference through your business ventures? SEED shows students how. Helping students explore new models of social entrepreneurship – that was the goal of the inaugural SEED (Social Entrepreneurship Experience and Development) Programme. Developed by students in the NUS-LEAD Programme (an initiative of the NUS Career Centre and NUS



Office of Admissions), SEED encompassed a range of activities and events over June and July. Students had the opportunity to visit, learn from and complete internships at homegrown social enterprises across many different industries. Ready for the next wave of businesses with heart? NUS just might lead the way.

The SEED student team with Mr Lawrence Wong (fifth from right), Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. Mr Wong joined the students for the closing conference of the SEED Programme.

To pursue music as a career, one has to passionately believe in it. This commitment goes beyond months and years of training, and involves having faith in art. Right now, it is mid-September and I am writing from a hotel room on Usedom, a small island in the Baltic Sea over which Germany and Poland share sovereignty. I have come here to conduct the Baltic Youth Philharmonic at the Usedom Music Festival 2012. Since graduating from NUS, many good things (for which I am infinitely grateful) have happened to me. I am currently one of two students studying for a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting at the Hanns-Eisler Musikhochschule in Berlin. This year, I also had the opportunity to conduct and

perform in the United States, Switzerland, Belgium and Russia. In early September, I managed to return to Singapore for a week to conduct the kid’s philharmonic@ sg, an orchestra I founded in 2011 to promote music education among children. Straight after the concert, I rushed to the airport to catch a flight to Usedom and, the next morning, had my first rehearsal with the Baltic Youth Philharmonic. Thank goodness for the time-zone difference between Singapore and Europe! Every enduring piece of classical music is dear to me, for a simple reason – a work of art can never be fully replaced by another, in the same way that human relationships are unique. That’s why I am excited about what the future holds. Next February, the Asian Contemporary Ensemble, which I Mr Wong Kah Chun founded, will have its debut at the Esplanade. I am also looking forward to concerts in Croatia, Hungary and Japan. If there is one piece of music that I am currently fully immersed in, it is Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, which I will be conducting in Tokyo next month. Needless to say, I think about it day and night!


Mr Wong Kah Chun was appointed Conducting Assistant for the Singapore Chinese Orchestra in 2011. In June, he was awarded the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship, becoming the first musician to receive the award.

Dr Chiong (in orange) with young beneficiaries of Project Sabai in Cambodia.

ALL-ROUNDED // Dr Chiong Yee

Keow (Medicine ’12) did NUS proud in August when she received the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Outstanding All-Round Achievement, in recognition of her contributions to the community and her spirit of innovation and enterprise. As an undergraduate, Dr Chiong was actively involved in a series of community projects related to public health, serving as the chairperson of the Neighbourhood Health Screening project at Taman Jurong in 2009. She also led the upgrading of the programme by introducing evidence-based screening procedures. Dr Chiong was also commended for her volunteer and public education efforts in Cambodia on behalf of rural communities.

From left: Assoc Prof Joel Lee, NUS Faculty of Law Vice Dean (Student Affairs); Mr Benjamin Moh; Mr Eddy Hirono; and Prof Nancy Schultz of Chapman University, Executive Committee Member for the International Negotiation Competition.

LEGAL EAGLES // In July, Law

students Mr Benjamin Moh and Mr Eddy Hirono won the International Negotiation Competition, the first time in the 14-year history of the event that a law school had achieved this feat. Held over five days at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, the competition seeks to hone negotiation skills in international disputes and saw NUS beating a field of 15 international teams.

OCT–DEC 2012


Photos courtesy of NUSSU VPC




son of a e s a n is ee It has b s at NUS! In th e festiviti hoto feature, at p special S takes a look U AlumN resh, seasoned resa Tan f e alumni e making. By Th h and in t

OCT–DEC 2012


What a high: This year’s parade comprised 14 environmentally-friendly floats in a variety of eye-popping colours and designs. Another highlight? The energetic (and often gravity-defying) student performances.




No other campus event captures the true spirit of innovation and youthful exuberance the way that the annual NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) Rag Day does. On this day of pomp and glory, halls of residence, schools and faculties compete for honours in a contest of eye-catching floats and performances. Held in August, Rag and Flag is a timehonoured tradition at NUS, one that began with the cohort of 1958 at the then University of Malaya as an essential part of the annual Freshmen Orientation programme. Previously a single-day event, it became two linked events – Flag Day and Rag Day – during the 1980s. Flag Day is all about giving back to the community, with freshmen seeking donations for charity through car washes, record-breaking events and bazaars. By working together for others (even before their academic year has properly begun), students learn how they can contribute to society, a role they will continue to play as alumni.



NUS Chancellor’s Shield FACULTY: NUS Business School HALL: Kent Ridge Hall


NUS President’s Shield FACULTY: NUS Business School HALL: Kent Ridge Hall

RAG AWARDS Enjoying the fantastic displays were (from left) Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources; Mr Ang Yu Qian, NUSSU President; Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Chancellor of NUS; and Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, President of NUS.

Photos courtesy of NUSSU VPC

This year, students helped raised over S$460,000 for 20 beneficiaries under the Community Chest. Over the last decade, NUS has raised more than S$4.3 million for the Community Chest and has received Community Chest Special Events Gold or Platinum Awards for its annual fundraising efforts.


NUS President’s Shield NUS Business School BEST COSTUMES (FACULTY): Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine BEST COSTUMES (HALL): Kent Ridge Hall and Sheares Hall BEST CREATIVITY AWARD: Faculty of Law NUS FAVOURITE FLOAT: Kent Ridge Hall and Sheares Hall MOST ENVIRONMENTALLYFRIENDLY FLOAT: Faculty of Science


Enjoying the evening festivities were (from left) Prof Tan Tai Yong, NUS Vice Provost (Student Life); Assoc Prof Lim Meng Kin, Director of the NUS Office of Alumni Relations; Prof Yong Kwet Yew, NUS Vice President (Campus Infrastructure); Mr Edward D’Silva, member, NUS Board of Trustees; Mr Wong Ngit Liong, Chairman, NUS Board of Trustees; Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, President of NUS; and Prof Tan Eng Chye, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost.

MILES S G N I OM HOMEC Chillin’ on the Town Green

NUS alumni gather each year to meet up and mingle with their former schoolmates, keeping the flame of a shared university experience alive. This year, the Alumni Day @ Bukit Timah Campus homecoming on 8 July attracted 900 attendees, its largest turnout since it was started in 2005. Hosted by NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, the night marked the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1962, the first cohort to receive degrees awarded by the University of Singapore, and one that counts among its members Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam and former Supreme Court Justice Mr Goh Joon Seng.

NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan (right) and attendees getting into the swing of things.

On 28 July, the annual Alumni Day @ Kent Ridge homecoming was held for the first time at UTown, drawing a recordbreaking crowd of 1,700 alumni and guests. Alumni took advantage of the cool weather to picnic on the Town Green. It was the most relaxed of homecomings, a perfect time and place to catch up with old friends.

For the first time, the homecoming included a concert programme. Among the highlights were performances by KR Rockers, Baracuda Batacuda, Raw Earth and the Popbottles – with many of the musicians alumni.

Golden years: Honouring graduates of the Class of 1962 (left). 14


OCT–DEC 2012



Sharing their experiences at the forum were Mr Andrew Shaindlin (left), Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at Carnegie Mellon University; and Mr Chris Vlahos, Vice President of Alumni Relations at Case Western Reserve University.


Connecting personally with our alumni and placing them at the heart of every engagement effort – those topics lay at the core of the second NUS Alumni Leaders Forum on 11 August. The forum brought together 130 alumni leaders from NUS faculties, halls and local and overseas alumni groups to discover ways to better serve NUS alumni. The sharing of proven practices and innovative ideas made this year’s forum an exciting one that promises to spearhead greater alumni engagement in the years ahead. Alumni champion Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, summed up the continued need for strong alumni relations when he said at a panel discussion: “Many of your lifelong friends were made when you entered the university. What we need now, more than ever before, are networks of prolonged, deep engagement that go beyond social networks. And alumni networks provide that.”

MNI U L A W ME, NE WELCO Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources


This year, 9,913 students were conferred their degrees by NUS. Indeed, the fruit of their many hard years of study was sweet, as members of the Class of 2012 celebrated their graduation with fellow students, their families and the NUS community. The true stars of the occasion were the bright-eyed graduates, whose excitement and anticipation of a promising future were contagious. In the words of valedictorian Ms Su Ying Hui (Engineering, Business ’12): “We have graduated and the rest of our life awaits. The future will be challenging, maybe even frightening, punctuated with many new experiences. But along with it, comes hope. To the graduating Class of 2012: let us embrace the challenges that lie ahead of us and be the best that we can be.”

NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, Guest-of-Honour at the NUS Alumni Leaders Forum 2012

In a lively discussion led by Assoc Prof TC Chang (left; Arts and Social Sciences ’90), panel members spoke about their experiences on the front-lines of alumni engagement.

One family: With NUS’ latest cohort of graduates, our global alumni community now numbers 219,000 people.

The happiest place on campus in July? The University Cultural Centre, of course! Alumni stalwarts at the NUS Alumni Leaders Forum 2012 OCT–DEC 2012



Helping students discover their talents: Participants of the NUS Residential Leaders Camp 2012, held on Pulau Ubin in May.

Dean of Students Assoc Prof Tan Teck Koon (Science ’73, ’81) takes his role as the ultimate student champion seriously. By Theresa Tan An Associate Professor of Mycology at NUS’ Faculty of Science, Assoc Prof Tan Teck Koon is as passionate about his role as the Dean of Students (Head of the Office of Student Affairs or OSA), as he is about Biology. The OSA provides student services in areas such as housing, CCAs, guidance for student organisations and development of student life outside of academia. A lecturer at NUS since 1981, Assoc Prof Tan, 63, became Dean of Students in 2003. He is now in his 10th year at OSA. What does your role as the Dean of Students entail?

My role is basically to provide the leadership, motivation, support and encouragement for my team to deliver OSA’s functions through a range of student-centric initiatives. Fortunately, life is not that clinical. I get to work with colleagues from other university offices, external partners, and with students. A big chunk of my time is spent having discussions with students, student leaders and student committees, and being at their events and activities. It is important for me to show my support and also to have a first-hand feel of what goes on. I like guiding and mentoring, sharing ideas and picturing possibilities with students. It makes life in the office much more lively and interesting, and my role much more meaningful. 18


Why is OSA important for every student on campus?

Providing good services is a key function of OSA, but above that, our role is to create a balanced and enriching university experience for students. This may happen through CCAs or student development programmes that OSA comes up with. The latter includes leadership programmes, outdoor experiential camps, volunteerism, workshops, talks and forums. Students will have a memorable experience of NUS through receiving excellent service from us. However, it is through active involvement in student life and student development programmes that our students forge strong camaraderie and bonds that last a lifetime; build a sense of community belonging and develop pride as NUS students; broaden their outlook and perspectives; and hone soft skills that are so important for their success beyond university. Our hope is that students will realise this and optimise the many opportunities this university provides.

Photo of Assoc Prof Tan Teck Koon by Sean Tan


facilitates and organises over 110 recruitments events every academic year, providing personalised advisory services through 11 dedicated faculty Career Advisors and conducting core career foundation training to graduating students. Since 2005, our Student Service Centre (SSC) has come a long way from offering student-related services to championing their requests and serving as a one-stop service point. It also leverages on technology to enable students to seek out answers and solutions online. These measures have helped to reduce the need for students to visit the SSC from a high of 55,000 visitors in 2006 to 40,000 in 2011.

Assoc Prof Tan Teck Koon, Dean of Students

The students’ perception of OSA has changed dramatically. In the early years, we used to receive poor feedback and loud complaints from students. In my view, we have, over the years, made vast improvements, especially in building a student-centric and people-centric culture. The results of our annual CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) conducted with our students have been very healthy. Our Compliment:Complaint ratio stands at 114:1. Tell us about some of the challenges and encouraging experiences you have had over the years.

Tell us about an OSA initiative you introduced that has had a major impact on students.

It would have to be the NUS Career Centre, which took the place of the former career counselling service. The NUS Career Centre has grown in its scale and operations. It now


Bringing the buzz to UTown in August was Supernova 2012, one of many student-centric events organised by OSA.

I remember an OSA disciplinary inquiry. My staff could not handle the student and called me in to intervene. We had to enforce some stiff penalties on this particular student and he stormed out of OSA. Some months later, I chanced upon him on campus and plucked up the courage to ask how he was doing.

He was surprised and overwhelmed. Later, we exchanged emails and met up for coffee in the canteen, where he shared his ambition and aspirations. What touched me was his soft and gentle soul in what had appeared to be a very tough shell. He has long graduated and I often wonder how he is doing. There was another student who was very upset with his academic results and came in for a chat. He would not make an appointment with the university counsellor, so I decided to hear him out. We chatted on several occasions and for many hours each time. He graduated and was quite successful with what he embarked on. One day, I returned to my office after a morning of meetings and was surprised to find breakfast on my desk! The student had dropped by earlier and finding that I was not in, had left it on my desk with a personal note. I was touched. When something like this happens, my colleagues and I tell ourselves, it’s worth all our effort. OCT–DEC 2012



It was way back in 1958 that I nervously walked onto the intimidating grounds of the University of Malaya in Singapore. Lost in the passageway of the imposing Oei Tiong Ham Building, on my way to the Law Faculty office, I was thankful that there were no “senior gentlemen” around to guide me to nowhere. Having somewhat successfully evaded ragging – or, euphemistically, “orientation” – for a month, my concern for the rest of the freshie year was to survive the year-end guillotine that would drastically reduce our intake of around 120 students. Eventually, only 22 of us remained for the rest of the course. This number included three sweet ladies, Hendon HJ Mohamed, Molly Cheang and the late Tay Suan. They had a field day with all of us vying for their attention by offering our lecture notes or running errands for them. Our four academic years spanning 1958 to 1962 straddled a period during which water shortages would hit Singapore during the dry season. This resulted in water rationing, with the air-conditioning at the library and tutorial rooms shut down. Tutorials had to be conducted under the shade of trees in the Upper Quadrangle, with tutors and students sitting on the grass. Reading reports

A LIFE ENRICHED Events like Alumni Day @ Bukit Timah Campus are especially enjoyable for the memories they bring of friendships made and experiences shared. By Goh Joon Seng (Law ’62)

(especially chancery law reports also Chairperson of the Malaysian in archaic English) in the airtight Bar for a number of terms. library was mentally exacting. Other distinguished classmates Notwithstanding such discomincluded Tan Sri Justice Lamin Mohd fort, my years at the university – Yunus, President of the Malaysian which saw its transition from the Court of Appeal; Justice Zakaria University Yatim, Malaysia of Malaya in Court of Appeal Singapore to the Judge; and Mr “MY UNIVERSITY University of Abdul Malik, who YEARS WERE MY Singapore – were I believe served as HAPPIEST AS A my happiest Malaysia’s Director STUDENT. THE as a student. of Immigration. FRIENDS AND The friends and There were acquaintances many others from ACQUAINTANCES I I made then all disciplines with MADE THEN HAVE have enriched I spent my ENRICHED MY LIFE.” whom my life. I met college days, and of many who went whom I recall with Mr Goh Joon Seng on to lead and fondness. That’s serve Singapore, why I enjoy events people like Prof S Jayakumar (’63), like the Alumni Day @ Bukit Timah Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong (’61), Campus homecoming. I especially look forward to revisiting the former Prof Tommy Koh (’61) and former Periodical Room of the library, where Commissioner of Police Mr Goh I first met my wife, Angeline, way Yong Hong (’61). back in 1960. Among our 1962 cohort was retired Justice S Rajendran, who Mr Goh was admitted as an Advocate now serves as Chairman of the and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Hindu Endowments Board, and is a Singapore in 1963. He practised at the member of the Presidential Council Bar until his appointment as a Judicial for Religious Harmony. Hendon, had Commissioner in 1990 and Judge of she chosen to go into public service the Supreme Court that same year. in Malaysia, would certainly have Mr Goh retired from the Supreme attained high judicial office. Instead, Court Bench in 2000, and is now a she chose to remain in private member of Singapore’s Council of practice and served the profession Presidential Advisers. through the Bar Council. She was

Main photo by Steve Zhu




The building that housed the original Law Faculty on the Bukit Timah Campus.

“As students, all of us owed a great deal to the founding Dean, Prof LA Sheridan. He laid the foundation for a Law Faculty whose degrees won immediate recognition and, in time, respect. He seemed a forbidding personality but was

a caring teacher beneath that exterior. We were also fortunate to have Prof Harry E Groves, an expert in Constitutional Law, as well as many other teachers who commanded respect within academia and beyond.”

Prof LA Sheridan, founding Dean of the Law Faculty (left, 1956 to 1962); Prof Harry E Groves, Dean of the Law Faculty (1963 to 1964)

OCT–DEC 2012



TWIN ACTS Cultural Medallion recipient Mrs Joanna Wong (Science ’63) is famed for championing Cantonese opera and respected for her contributions to NUS. By Yeo Zhi Qi You started your career as an administrative assistant in the Registrar’s Office in 1963. Tell us about that.

students enter the university and later passing their exams to move onto the next stage in their lives.

I worked for almost four decades in NUS – 39 and a half years, to be precise. Working in the Registrar’s Office, I oversaw a range of matters from the admission of students all the way to their graduation, including academic matters.

You retired in 2001. What do you miss most about NUS?

That’s a long time! What’s your most memorable experience?

I saw many changes. While still a student, I witnessed the change of the university from the University of Malaya to the University of Singapore, in 1962. Then I saw the merger with Nanyang University to form the National University of Singapore in 1980. Other highlights for me include the move from Bukit Timah to the Kent Ridge campus. I have been around long enough to have seen through multiple curriculum and course changes. But what was most rewarding was seeing

I miss the people I worked with most of all. Some of them have also retired but we still keep in touch and meet up occasionally for meals. What sparked your interest in Chinese opera and led you to become a performer?

When I was still a toddler, my aunt used to bring me to watch Chinese opera. As a young girl, two things from these operas captured my attention: the beautiful costumes and lovely melodies. I remember thinking to myself that I would like to wear such colourful costumes when I grow up. In 1981, you formed the Chinese Theatre Circle (CTC), a theatre group that provides training in opera singing and performance,

A doyenne of opera with deep roots to her alma mater

with your husband Leslie. What prompted you to start CTC?

When I came to Singapore from Penang to pursue my university education in 1959, I met an ex-performer who invited me to perform for a clan association. I also returned to Penang during the holidays to record Chinese opera songs at Radio Malaya and Rediffusion. I started CTC with my husband simply out of our love for the arts and keen interest to preserve and promote it.

Besides having the interest, one must be willing to sacrifice and put in hard work into mastering the art. Of course, talent is a huge bonus but it is still crucial that one persevere and be willing to spend time every day to practise what is learnt. You have performed more than 2,000 shows in Singapore and in 20 countries. What keeps you going on the Chinese theatre scene? In 1981, Ms Wong was awarded the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest award for artistic excellence, by then Minister of Culture Mr S Dhanabalan.



My passion and deep interest in Chinese theatre is the driving force behind my dedication and effort.

Archival photos courtesy of Ms Joanna Wong

What advice do you have for a budding Chinese theatre performer?

ONCE UPON A MEMORY As an undergraduate at the University of Singapore, I stayed at Raffles Hall on the Bukit Timah Campus and, during my Honours year, at Eusoff College. This photograph was taken in 1975 at the Oei Tiong Ham Building. The

Moments inthe Shade An alumna recalls life on NUS’ Bukit Timah Campus in the mid-1970s.

facade and ambience really haven’t changed much after all these years. As for my memories of those years – Janet, Margaret, We Chang and I were very close and we spent many moments between lectures and tutorials at our favourite spot in the shade of this tree. We teamed up for projects together; we knew one another’s families; we were hostel mates; we studied together in the library; we celebrated our birthdays together; and we shared love, support and joy.

Together once more: Ms Chiu, Ms Chua and Ms Teo at the Alumni Day @ Bukit Timah Campus homecoming on 8 July. Ms Seow was unable to join the reunion due to travel.

Department Office of Alumni Relations

Of course, we also had our share of misunderstandings and disappointments, but we never let them hurt our friendship. In short, ours was just another story of a group of undergraduates who got on well together. Though we gradually lost contact over the years, thanks to the Alumni Day @ Bukit Timah Campus homecoming in July, I made the decision to look for my friends and initiate the reunion. I am glad that we have agreed to keep in touch by attending Alumni Day together from now on. After graduating from the University of Singapore, Ms Chiu served with the Monetary Authority of Singapore before working in the private sector at various banks. Married with two grown children, she is currently assisting religious and volunteer welfare organisations in her personal capacity.

By Chiu Lin Fee (Business ’78)

Fast friends (from left): Ms Janet Seow, Ms Chiu Lin Fee, Ms Margaret Chua and Ms Teo We Chang. This photograph was one of many submitted for the Walk Down Memory Lane photo exhibition at the Alumni Day @ Bukit Timah Campus homecoming; it was selected by alumni and guests for the first prize.



Photo courtesy of Ms Chiu Lin Fee

See you at our Year-end Alumni Complex Light-up! Highlights Children’s activities and workshops Christmas movie screening Performances by the NUSS Choir and the NUSS DanceSport performing group Enjoy the Alumni Complex façade light-up

2 D ECE M B E R 2012 (SU N DAY ) 5 p m to 8 . 30 p m ALUM N I CO M PLE X K E N T R I D G E D R I V E , N US Registration: Enquiries: Ms Valerie Vincent (

CHANGEMAKER A Singaporean surgeon on the front-lines of West Beirut during the early 1980s.

A SINGULAR JOURNEY Dr Ang Swee Chai (Medicine ’73) has taken the road less travelled and helped countless lives in war-torn regions of the Middle East.



Archival photos courtesy of Dr Ang Swee Chai

Dr Ang Swee Chai’s uncommonly strong sense of conviction has led her down a singular path. The first woman to be appointed an orthopaedic consultant surgeon at the renowned St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, Dr Ang has travelled a long road from Singapore and the United Kingdom to the heart of war-torn Beirut. Born in Penang, Dr Ang wanted to become a doctor for as long as she could remember. “I thought that as a doctor, one could do a lot of good,” she recalls. “One day, my brother brought home a biography of Dr Albert Schweitzer [the physician and medical missionary]; I wanted so much to be like him.” After graduating with honours from the University of Singapore in 1973, Dr Ang decided to pursue orthopaedics as her specialty. Among her Singaporean mentors were some of the most prominent names in the field: Prof Pesi Chacha, Dr Kanwaljit Soin and Prof Kamal Bose. In 1974, Dr Ang’s life was to take the first of many turns when she met Mr Francis Khoo (Law ’70). They were

married in 1977 but barely two weeks after the ceremony, Mr Khoo left Singapore abruptly after he was sought for questioning by the authorities about his political views. Dr Ang herself was taken into custody, as were many of the couple’s friends. Within weeks of her release, Dr Ang arrived in the United Kingdom to start a new life with Mr Khoo. With typical determination, she soon became the senior registrar at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospital. In 1982, shortly after seeing an urgent appeal for surgeons to treat civilian casualties in Beirut, Lebanon, Dr Ang felt compelled to act. Taking a leap of faith, she resigned from her job and volunteered her services. “I arrived in West Beirut in the middle of a 36-hour bombing campaign,”

she recalls. “When the bombs stopped, group Medical Aid for Palestinians in we were taken across the lines into 1984. “The Middle East has very much the war-zone.” become a part of my life,” she says. In her memoir From Beirut to In February, on her first trip back Jerusalem (2002), Dr Ang writes to Singapore in 35 years, Dr Ang movingly of the realities of practicing brought with her the ashes of her triage in the refugee camps of Sabra husband, Francis, who had passed and Shatila. Soon after she arrived, the away in the United Kingdom the two camps were destroyed and many previous November. At a memorial of their inhabitants killed. “During service held at the Cathedral of the the massacre, I spent three days and Good Shepherd, the theme was one nights operating in of service before a basement shelter,” “AS DOCTORS, WE self – a principle she recalls. “When that Dr Ang herself ARE PRIVILEGED we were finally embodies. IN SO MANY WAYS. ordered out of the Days before NOT ONLY CAN basement, we saw leaving for the dead civilians all United Kingdom, WE TALK ABOUT around us. My first GIVING, WE ALSO Dr Ang spoke thought was, ‘The at the National HAVE PLENTY world has forsaken University Health TO GIVE.” the Palestinians; System Auditorium Dr Ang Swee Chai the world has to members of wronged us’.” Singapore’s medical Together with several of her fraternity. In the audience were fellow physicians, Dr Ang made professors who had once been her the decision to testify about the teachers as well as junior housemen massacre at the Kahan Commission in their surgical scrubs. Dr Ang noted in Jerusalem, Israel. As a result, her that those who have the capacity to visa was withdrawn and she was make a difference must also embrace forced to return to London. Yet Dr it as their duty. “As doctors, we are Ang’s abiding passion for the Middle privileged in so many ways,” she told East had taken root; moved by the her audience. “Not only can we talk plight of the innocent caught up in about giving, we also have plenty conflict, she helped form the charity to give.”


Dr Ang remains a fervent advocate of civilian rights in wartime, and in her frequent travels to the Middle East, has found – amid extreme violence and sorrow – moments of love, kindness and grace. One morning in December 2008, after 24 hours of surgery, she stepped out of an operating theatre in Gaza to see an orange tree in full bloom – “a reminder of the love that God has for all of us,” she recalls.

OCT–DEC 2012



Mr David Chua at the Aviva 70.3 Half-Ironman Race in 2011

Service Resort and Country Club in Changi. “It was not easy installHaving to repeat his first year at NUS led ing irrigation pipes every day in Mr David Chua (Science ’92) to rethink his the sweltering heat, but I relished outlook and shaped his attitude to life. By Theresa Tan it because I love the outdoors,” he says. Being one of the very few locals involved in the irrigation Mr David Chua’s first year in a delay of three months before Mr industry then, Mr Chua spotted university at the Faculty of Chua could start work. many business opportunities Science proved to be so much That job was never meant to be. as Singapore developed over fun that he didn’t do at all well in It was during this unexpected delay the years. After his stint with his exams. that Mr Chua chanced upon a threeChallenge Reticulation, he That experience jolted Mr Chua, line advertisement in the newspapers returned to Hydroscapes and now 46, into bucking up and instilled for a ‘Mechanical, Electrical, Civil worked there till 1997, when in him the attitude of turning every Engineer’. he quit his job and, with only obstacle in life into an opportunity. “I was none of these,” he quips. S$20,000 in the bank, decided “I had bummed around, and But not one to sit around and twiddle to “jump into the deep end” of so had to repeat my first year,” the his thumbs, he called the number business ownership. Physics major recalls with a smile. listed and before he knew it, Mr Chua As a person who had taken his “Transitioning from structured learn- was working for an Australian studies lightly in university, Mr Chua ing in junior college to self-study in company called Hydroscapes, a small soon discovered the importance university was hard for me. I was consulting outfit that handled golf of being trained. He obtained his in the canteen more than I was in course irrigation sysMaster in Business lectures! But when I had to retake my tems. In the mid ’90s, Administration “YOU MUST DO first year, I told myself, ‘It’s time to the irrigation indusdegree from the EVERYTHING stop fooling around’.” try in Singapore was University of South AT LEAST ONCE! Australia, and to When he graduated in 1992, Mr a niche one domiChua was eager to start life in the nated by foreign OTHERWISE, YOU cement his posiworking world. “I sat for a stringent companies. WOULD NOT HAVE tion in the industry, aptitude test, went through three “As a fresh he also became a LIVED LIFE.” rounds of interviews and was finally graduate, I started Certified Irrigation Mr David Chua, sportsman selected to become an oil explorer off doing simple Designer (Golf and for a company called Geco-Prakla drawings but I didn’t Landscape) with the – a subsidiary of Schlumberger, the understand what all the lines I was Irrigation Association of Australia. world’s largest oilfield services comdrawing meant. So I told my boss that The year Mr Chua struck out pany,” he says. “I would have been I wanted to gain some field experion his own, Christensen Irrigation, based in Germany, and travelling to ence,” he says. a pioneering American company in Africa to work.” Mr Chua was sent to work specialist irrigation, secured a multiHowever, labour issues bewith an affiliate company called million dollar project to provide tween Geco-Prakla and the German Challenge Reticulation, which had irrigation for the then upcoming company it was planning to acquire secured the project to install the Singapore Turf Club at Kranji. It was and deploy the new hires to meant irrigation system at the National a two-year project ahead of the Turf 28


Cycling 304km in aid of St Luke’s Hospital and St Luke’s ElderCare

Conquering Col de Colombiere – a mountain pass that used to be part of the Tour de France – in 2011

At the inaugural 160km Kuantan Century Ride 2012

Photos courtesy of David Chua


Club’s relocation from Bukit Timah in 1999. The Singapore branch of the company offered Mr Chua a job, but he counter-proposed that it appoint his company to manage the project for them. Christensen Irrigation agreed, and when the project ended, it offered to acquire Mr Chua’s company. As he put it, “It was a tough decision, giving up something I started. But then I would be able

to leap-frog into the big leagues overnight. I took up the offer, and became the General Manager of Christensen Irrigation (Singapore) with a minority share ownership.” This new path proved rocky initially; the company lost large sums through risky investments before Mr Chua replaced the Managing Director. In 2006, Mr Chua became the controlling stakeholder and managing director of Christensen Irrigation (Singapore), arguably the largest irrigation company on the domestic scene today. It counts among its clients Gardens By The Bay, Vivocity and the newly upgraded Changi Terminal 1. An avid sportsman since his National Service days, Mr Chua trains six days a week, rotating between running, swimming and cycling. He loves sports for the lessons it teaches: “Discipline, hard

work, an understanding of failure, emotional control, accomplishment, camaraderie, action.” Mr Chua takes part in about 13 sporting events a year, including two half-Ironman triathlons. He has a special love for cycling and travels frequently to participate in charity rides around the region, the most recent one being the Charity Bike ‘N’ Blade in August when, together with fellow cyclists, he rode 304km from Kuantan to Kota Tinggi to raise S$500,000 for St Luke’s Hospital and St Luke’s ElderCare in Singapore. While still an undergraduate, Mr Chua had volunteered his time as a research diver, and served as team leader in the Reef Ecology Survey Team that undertook a marine survey of the Southern Islands. The survey was managed by the Marine Biology Laboratory of NUS headed by Prof Chou Loke Ming. “Today, after the government’s review of the results, the Southern Islands have been gazetted as a nature reserve,” Mr Chua now says proudly. Of his philosophy in life, the father of two – a daughter aged 11, and a son, nine – says, “You must do everything at least once! Otherwise, you would not have lived life.” OCT–DEC 2012



ONE SPEAKER. 10 MINUTES. BOUNDLESS INSPIRATION. U@live is our monthly guest speaker series that showcases NUS alumni with 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

Alvan Yap (Arts and Social Sciences ’01)

ALL SIGNS POINT TO A BETTER LIFE Sharing the gift of communication. HOW MANY OF US

would take a year off – without pay – to travel overseas and work in a place where nightly blackouts and water cuts are part of everyday life? In 2010, Mr Alvan Yap did exactly that. This leap of faith on his part garnered him not just an interesting life story to tell, but a legacy that is slowly but surely setting a hearingimpaired community free from its world of silence. At the U@live forum on 13 June, Mr Yap, 35, an Executive Council member at the Singapore Association for the Deaf, related his experiences as a volunteer teacher at the Agape School for the Deaf in Dili, the capital of Timor Leste. Mr Yap was there as part of a Singapore International Foundation (SIF) initiative to aid the hearing-impaired. Over the course of a year, Mr Yap helped to develop a standard curriculum for local educators in Dili. Despite being hearing-impaired himself, the 35-year-old saw an opportunity to serve others who had never enjoyed the privilege of education that his own parents had afforded him. “I felt it was something I could do, and I knew I had the experience 32


and qualifications, so I thought were able to learn the alphabet, un‘Why not? What do I have to lose?’” derstand the concept of numbers and he said. Mr Yap holds a diploma in spell out their own names. special education and has four years At the beginning of his stint, of teaching experience at a school for there were only 16 students rangthe deaf in Singapore. ing in age from eight to 52 years. When he arrived in Dili, he Before he left, Mr Yap had helped to discovered that there was no formal train four senior students who have education structure for the deaf. since gone on to become teachers This challenged him to work harder. themselves. When he revisited the “Language is the basic foundation school in March this year, the school of human learning; if they cannot boasted more than 50 students. communicate, they Asked about the “LANGUAGE cannot really be a part of biggest challenges the human community,” IS THE BASIC he had faced during Mr Yap told his audience. FOUNDATION his own school-going So he set about creating years, Mr Yap recalled OF HUMAN syllabus and standardised it was not being LEARNING.” that sign language system for able understand his local students. teachers. As a result, he had to do a Explaining how he created the lot of self-study. Being hearing-imsign language from scratch, Mr Yap paired also affected his social life as shared, “I started with the basics, for he refused to wear his hearing aid. example, signs for ‘family’, ‘food’ and He now works as an editor and ‘animals’. I linked the word with the writer with a publishing company sign and did a video, then put them while volunteering with the SIF on all together in a slide show.” an ad hoc basis. By Yong Yung Shin The results were dramatic; for the first time in their lives, the students Mr Yap spoke on 13 June.

Mr Yap shared with forum moderator Mr Viswa Sadasivan and audience members about his teaching experiences with hearing-impaired students in Dili.

Prof Wong believes in investing in medical research as opposed to merely importing existing knowledge from places like North America, Western Europe and Japan. “We are faced with a tsunami of an ageing population in the next 10 years; actually it’s already at our doorstep. The incidence of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, dementia and stroke is breaking on us,” he pointed out. “In nearly every one of these diseases, the behaviour among an Asian population is different from that in a population in the West. Because of this, we need to start developing strategies of our own, because those used in the West might not work here.” During the interview session conducted by forum moderator Mr Viswa Sadasivan, the discussion turned to Prof John Wong (Medicine ’81) the need for better communication skills on the part of doctors. “There’s a pervasive complaint about the ability of locally trained doctors to communicate well, such as [in conveying] bad news,” he noted. Poor bedside manners are the number one source of medical litigaSpearheading the drive to invest in medical research. tion and complaints in the medical care industry, said Prof Wong. WHILE LUNG CANCER due to a patient’s genetic makeup. Asked about the emphasis he is largely a smokingHowever, the first time he presented placed – as Dean of the Yong Loo Lin related disease in the the data in Boston, Massachusetts, School of Medicine for almost nine West for women, a Prof Wong was accused of being racist. years – on proper communication on significant number of “Our dream is to develop targeted the part of doctors, Prof Wong stated lung cancer sufferers cancer treatments by matching the that medical students at NUS are imin Asian countries such as Singapore, individual’s genetic signature with mersed in a holistic learning enviTaiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and China the correct drug,” he shared with the ronment as early as their first year. are non-smoking females. U@live audience on 25 July. Simulated operating rooms, intensive Studying this discrepancy, Prof A medical oncologist-haematolcare units and birth units, complete John Wong and his team at the Cancer ogist, Prof Wong, with trained actors to Therapeutics Research Group – Asia’s 55, wears many hats “WE NEED TO START give feedback, all help only academic clinical trial school – the Isabel Chan students to sharpen DEVELOPING based at NUS – realised that ethnicity Professor in Medical their medical skills. STRATEGIES was a major indicator of how patients Sciences, he is Vice Additionally, OF OUR OWN, are likely to respond to treatment. Provost (Academic Prof Wong noted that BECAUSE THOSE the local education As they were testing the efficacy of a Medicine) at NUS USED IN THE new tablet treatment on lung cancer and the Director system has been such patients, they discovered a key differof the National WEST MIGHT NOT that all milestones, ence in response between Caucasian University Cancer be it the PSLE or ‘O’ WORK HERE.” and Asian patients – the success Institute, Singapore, Level examinations, rate of the treatment was signifias well as Deputy Chief Executive are characterised by the acquisition of cantly higher among the Asians than of the National University Health knowledge, which is much easier to the Caucasians. System. He has trained at some of the grade than soft skills such as comIn other words, standardised world’s top cancer centres includmunication. “We should be moving treatments for a particular ailment ing the Memorial Sloan-Kettering from knowledge alone to competency, may not yield the same efficacy rates Cancer Center in the United States. which includes the ability to work in


OCT–DEC 2012


U@LIVE a team, self-learning, communication and applying knowledge,” said Prof Wong. “The challenge now is, how do we assess competency objectively?” He went on to say, “There are things that just come with experience and time. When you are a young doctor faced with something horrific, sometimes it’s difficult when you don’t have that experience.” Indeed, the subject of mortality is one that even seasoned doctors grapple with. While he recounted some of the success stories closest to his heart, Prof Wong also shared one of the most painful experiences of his career – when his closest colleague went from being a co-worker to his patient in one day after being diagnosed with cancer. After about a year of chemotherapy, his colleague decided to stop treatment. Prof Wong then took his friend to the best Japanese restaurant in town as he loved Japanese food, “where we spent a fortune on some of the best sashimi. Five days later, he was gone”. Another subject on the minds of audience members was how Singaporean doctors could further excel. For Prof Wong, eagerness to learn is a crucial attribute in the medical field. Asked about one factor that

differentiated a truly great doctor from a good one, Prof Wong replied that it was the ability to ask “Why?” and the willingness to pursue an issue to its conclusion. He has observed that while Singaporean medical students are just as clever as those from Yale and Cornell universities, the ones from the Western institutions are “fearless in terms of wanting to learn. They are not shy; they will ask about anything that they don’t know, because they perceive that as students, they should know everything; whereas the Singaporeans define themselves more as students, putting themselves on the lowest rung”. Customisation of treatment is not the only medical challenge Prof Wong is tackling. Twenty-five years ago, when he started practicing as an oncologist, the survival rate for advanced colon cancer was six months; presently, it is several years. While this marks significant progress in cancer treatment, its costs have also escalated. “We need to be much smarter with the way we go about treating cancer,” Prof Wong concluded. By Yong Yung Shin Prof Wong spoke on 25 July.

Speaking on the subject of “Seeding the Future,” Mr Ngiam commanded a full house.

Ngiam Tong Dow (Arts and Social Sciences ’59)

THE ELITE VS THE EFFETE Championing start-ups to develop wealth creators.


Besides discussing the state of medical research in Singapore with audience members (a number of whom were medical students), Dr Wong also fielded queries from online viewers of the forum. 34


petence, Singapore’s tertiary educators ought to be cultivating brilliance. Their goal should be to turn young Singaporeans into wealth creators, not just wealth managers. In today’s knowledge-based world, our soon-to-be six universities and six polytechnics, not to mention the Institutes of Technical Education, will be our strategic resources for the future. With this in mind, Mr Ngiam Tong Dow, NUS Pro-Chancellor and retired senior civil servant, has a radical suggestion: the Government ought to set aside money in risk capital to buy equity

“The second lesson was from a shares in young start-ups germinated banking conference in Seattle. Bill in local tertiary institutions. Gates was speaking, and he said, ‘I’m an “My modest proposal is for the information services specialist. We can Ministry of Finance to extend a handle all your back-office processes, so S$100 million grant to the Economic you can focus on the front-office work.’ Development Board to invest in the When he left the room, the head of equity of 100 knowledge-based startBarclays Bank at the time stood up and up companies,” said Mr Ngiam, who graduated with First Class Honours said, ‘Gentlemen, if we let him handle all our back-office processes, soon he from the University of Malaya, the will take us over!’ That taught me that precursor to NUS, at the U@live we need to cultivate our own talent, to session on 31 August. grow our own timber.” “I propose that as part of their Given that most start-ups flounder final year curriculum, students be within the first two years due to tight encouraged to form project teams of cashflow, Mr Ngiam believes that his two or three… to propose what they conceive to be viable businesses using equity injection proposal will give them the booster shot they need. He remindnew or significantly improved teched the audience that the nology and processes.” “WE PREVIOUSLY Government has always Mr Ngiam, 75, is DID IT participated in an entremotivated by two lespreneurial role alongside sons gleaned during OURSELVES. the private sector. his time in the Civil WHY HAVE “Those who take Service. “The first lesson WE LOST OUR I learned from Albert a dim view of state CONFIDENCE?” capitalism should ask Winsemius 30 years ago,” said Mr Ngiam. “Winsemius was themselves where Singapore would be without the Ministry of Finance the economic advisor to Singapore. providing equity capital to SIA, Keppel He said to me, ‘I can teach you how to Corporation, SembCorp, ST Engineering drive a car, but you have to drive the and, indeed, even DBS Bank. Few people car yourself.’ That taught me that as remember that the Ministry was a Singaporeans, we must always be in the driver’s seat – we are responsible founding shareholder in the Mandarin and Shangri-La hotels,” he said. for our own future,” said Mr Ngiam.

Indeed, the fact that people question such risk-taking is, to Mr Ngiam, symptomatic of the malaise that has befallen Singapore. “We previously did it ourselves. When we had a problem, we found a solution and fixed it ourselves. Now, when we have a problem, we look for a consultant or we hire a new foreign CEO, or we form a new statutory board,” he said. “Why have we lost our confidence?” One reason, Mr Ngiam said, is that Singapore’s elite has lost touch with the common Singaporean. He recounted how imperial scholars in ancient China were chosen through examinations. In the beginning, they were tested on practical issues like how they would deal with floods. Later on, the focus shifted to more abstract matters like memorising the sayings of Confucius. “Empires fall,” Mr Ngiam cautioned, “when the elite become the effete. We are at risk of having an elite that can go to restaurants and order expensive meals, but who cannot even fry an egg.” To prevent our elite from being ineffectual, Singapore’s education system needs to emphasise original thinking, adaptability and problem-solving skills. As a people, Mr Ngiam pointed out, we need to reclaim the responsibility for our own futures. By giving those in tertiary education a shot at becoming wealth creators, Singapore will groom its next generation of leaders – not chosen by how well they do in school, but by how well they have learned reallife lessons. By Terence Lee Jun Rong Mr Ngiam spoke on 31 August. To read Mr Ngiam’s proposal on “Seeding the Future,” visit: OCT–DEC 2012



Ms Chong Si Ching (sta ak nd second from ing, right)

A time to give

Golfers for good (from right): Sheares Hall Master Assoc Prof Gary Tan (School of Computing ’89, Science ’91, ’94), Mr Seah Cheng San (Engineering ’82, ’92), Mr Lew Kim Soon (Engineering ’82) and Mr Simon Koh (School of Design and Environment ’85, ’97).

Mr Ho Chee Yon

same enriching experience.” The other eight Platinum Donors (those who had made a gift of S$25,000) were Mr Ho Chee Yon (Engineering ’76); Ms Ong Swee Lian (Science ’71) and Dr Lee Yan Kean, who had travelled down from Malaysia; Mr Wong Jin Kok (Engineering ’85) and Ms Leong Siew Wah (Arts and Social Sciences ’85); Mr Yeo Keng Joon (Science ’73, Business ’85); and Mr Seah Cheng San (Engineering ’82), Chairman of the DRH/SH Charity Golf Organising Committee, and his wife Ms Chong Siak Ching (Architecture, Building and Real Estate ’81, Business ’91), President and CEO of Ascendas Pte Ltd as well as a member of the NUS Board of Trustees.

(top left)

Mr Chiou Fun Sin (seated,

at right)

TWO HALLS, ONE SPIRIT A day to celebrate old friendships and give to the next generation. The Dunearn Road Hostels/Sheares Hall Charity Golf Event, held on 6 July to commemorate 60 years of Dunearn Road Hostels (DRH) and 30 years of Sheares Hall (SH), drew a fantastic response from ex-Hall residents. Established in 1952, Dunearn Road Hostels moved to NUS’ Kent Ridge Campus in 1982 and was renamed Sheares Hall. At the Raffles Country



Club, former hall-mates raised a toast to the good old times, as well as the chartbusting S$306,000 that the event raised for the DRH/SH Alumni Endowment Fund which supports bursaries for Shearites in need. With a matching government grant, this gift will support 12 more bursaries annually of S$2,500 each, enabling 27 students to receive support each year.

The golf event attracted over 140 golfers. Among them were Mr Chiou Fun Sin (Engineering ’77, Business ’93) and his wife Ms Lau Lee Jan (Law ’81), who made a gift of S$25,000. “Staying in the Hall was a wonderful and enriching experience for us,” says Mr Chiou. “Now that we are in a position to help, we would like to give students the opportunity to benefit from the

DRH/SH ALUMNI ARE HELPING TO ENSURE THAT FUTURE GENERATIONS OF SHEARITES CAN ENJOY AND BENEFIT FROM THE NUS HALL EXPERIENCE. Among the 200 guests at the dinner that followed the golf event was Mr Quek Toh Hwai (Engineering ’84, ’90) who had travelled all the way from Shanghai, China. “Anniversaries mean nothing without the alumni to celebrate them with,” said Assoc Prof Gary Tan, Master of Sheares Hall. “I am honoured to have committed and passionate alumni like you with whom to share this joyous occasion.” If you would like to organise a class reunion to raise funds for NUS, please contact Ms Emilie Jouno at the NUS Development Office, Tel: (65) 6516-7540, Email:

He considers himself lucky to have made it to university. Now, Mr Seah Cheng San (Engineering ’82, Business ’92) is gathering like-minded people to support students in need. “Make the most of your opportunities. are many others they can assist. “The Enjoy life. Be the best you can be. Give bursaries help students who are on the back when you’re ready.” These are margins,” he says. “Some have partwords of advice that Mr Seah Cheng San time jobs and their grades may suffer often shares with bursary recipients. because they are too tired to apply An engineer who helped establish themselves to their studies. Bursaries the Dunearn Road can take some of the Hostels/Sheares Hall pressure off them and even (DRR/SH) Alumni allow them to experience Endowment Fund life in a Hall.” and the Engineering Mr Seah has many Class of ’82 Bursary warm memories of the Endowed Fund, Mr Seah Reading Room at DRH and studied at NUS on a having supper with friends Mr Seah Cheng San Singapore Armed Forces at Adam Road. It was also Scholarship before going on to have a at DRH that he met his wife, Ms Chong fulfilling professional career. Siak Ching (Architecture, Building and “In those days, about three per cent Real Estate ’81, Business ’91). of the cohort made it to university,” says “I enjoyed my time at the Mr Seah. “Many of us came from poor university,” says Mr Seah. “Now, it’s families. We were the lucky ones who time to give back.” made it, and now we want to give back and help students in need.” Mr Seah and his fellow donors hope to do more because they feel there



Since it was first established in 2009, the DRH/SH Alumni Endowment Fund has benefited 26 students. The Engineering Class of ’82 Bursary has also been awarded to 20 students since 2010. It is the first bursary fund at the Faculty of Engineering to be established under the sub-naming initiative. Subnaming allows individual donors who are a part of a collective gift of S$250,000 or more to create bursaries in the name of someone, by making a minimum contribution of S$25,000.

OCT–DEC 2012




Alumni of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) from different industries shared their insights with students at the 7th FASS Mentorship Programme Dinner on 23 August. Said Ms Lorraine Lai (Arts and Social Sciences ’08), now a manager with the Singapore Tourism Board: “This is what mentorship is all about – cross-generational sharing and learning!” The dinner allowed alumni mentors to be “matched” with students in order to provide professional guidance and advice.


In August, harpsichordist Ms Tan Qin Ying (Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music ’08) returned to her alma mater for a homecoming performance after having graduated from the Peabody Institute of Music with the Excellence in Early Music Award.

Sharing the stage with Ms Tan were violinist Mr Alan Choo (Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music ’09), the winner of the 2011 National Piano and Violin Competition in the Violin Artist Category; and flautist Mr Tan Aik Shin.

Working networks Close to 20 Engineering alumni representing a range of industries came together on 7 September to share their experiences with students. The occasion? The second edition of the Engineering Alumni-Student Networking Session, organised by NUS’ Faculty of Engineering (FoE), the External Relations Office, the NUS Career Centre, the NUS Office of Alumni Relations and Engineering Alumni Singapore. In his opening address, Prof Lim Seh Chun, Deputy Dean of FoE, noted the unique bonds between alumni and the university. “I am heartened to see the NUS Engineering family coming together once again, sharing and bonding at a session like this, and to hear your exciting success stories to inspire our students,” he said.

FAMILY DAY NUS’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering held its 5th Alumni Family Day on 25 August. The event attracted more than 100 alumni and their family members.

Among the guests this year were (third from left) Prof Choo Seok Cheow, the second Head of the Department, and Mrs Choo.


To encourage alumni to become more actively engaged in lifelong learning, the NUS Senior Alumni organised a short-story writing course in July and August. Led by Mr Chua Joon Eng (Arts and Social Sciences ‘68), Vice President of the NUS Senior Alumni, the course saw 11 alumni learning the finer points of plot, character, setting, perspective and theme. The writers thoroughly enjoyed the course and agreed to meet again to share their stories.

Communications and New Media homecoming celebration

IT’S ALL CRICKET 13 July saw a dedicated group of former cricketers gather at the Singapore Indian Association for a reunion match. The common factor? All had played for Singapore Combined Schools or the University of Singapore in the ’60s and early ’70s. Among the enthusiastic athletes were many who went on to don national colours. The game itself was played at a leisurely pace but there was certainly no lack of spirit. The old competitive fire was still clearly evident; indeed, a few players even managed to replicate their former genius on the pitch!

Leading the short-story writing course was Mr Chua Joon Eng (sixth from right).

Economics Alumni 5th annual dinner


Mr Dennis Koh, General Manager (Manufacturing) at Stahl Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, was one of about 20 alumni who lent advice to students.

Over 200 students attended the networking session held at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House.



of the Class of 2012 received a warm welcome from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences through numerous events that celebrated their success and welcomed them into the university’s global alumni family. Most of the celebratory events took place in July, to coincide with Commencement 2012. Lunch for Geography graduates

Global friends

Dean of FASS Prof Brenda Yeoh (inset) also took the opportunity to meet members of NUS’ global student family.

On 30 August, over 50 participants of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ My FASS Family Host Programme came together for an evening of fellowship. Alumni hosts included Mr Raem Tan (Arts and Social Sciences ’05), a Manager with the National Parks Board, with students coming from America, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, the United Kingdom and the United States.

OCT–DEC 2012





Things are off to a great start for the newest member of NUS’ Overseas Alumni Chapters

JAKARTA, INDONESIA On 5 September, our Jakarta chapter organised a talk and reunion dinner with the aim of strengthening the university’s alumni network in Indonesia. About 65 alumni from various faculties were in attendance, with several having travelled from Bandung and Surabaya. Sharing his experiences was Mr Cahyadi Kurniawan (Executive Education ’96), a certified business coach. The event marked the first official meeting of our Jakarta alumni since the chapter was launched in February, and we look forward to hearing more from our alumni in Indonesia!

Tokyo, Japan

Our alumni in Tokyo had a gathering on 20 July at Roppongi Hills. Indonesian fare was the order of the evening for 16 alumni and guests, among them a Singaporean MBA student interning for a Japanese company, the current cohort of EMBA students and freshmen enrolling for the MBA course this year. It was a good opportunity for alumni young and old to catch up with the latest from NUS.

In September, NUS launched its Engineering Alumni chapters in Shanghai and Beijing, with Dean of Engineering Prof Chan Eng Soon meeting alumni and leading the call for greater mutual engagement. The twin launches were held as part of the annual alumni reunions in both cities. The alumni reunion in Shanghai (top); Meeting graduates and old friends in Beijing


Celebrating Pharmacy’s Class of ’82

Vancouver, Canada

On 13 July, 40 alumni and guests came together for a reunion dinner. Among them were doctors, accountants, professors and many young professionals. Mr Arthur Yap (Arts and Social Sciences ’63), Chairman of the Vancouver Overseas Alumni Chapter, led the gathering in a recital of old Singaporean favourites.

Mr Arthur Yap (third from right) with alumni and guests at the reunion dinner.

Kuching, Malaysia

The NUS Kuching Overseas Alumni Chapter celebrated its 12th anniversary on 25 August with a reunion dinner. About 20 alumni and guests (representing different generations of graduates from the ‘60s to the present) joined in the festivities.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA On 18 August, 35 alumni and guests from NUS came together to celebrate the ties that bind. Joining the occasion as well were alumni from our Perth chapter.

The Shaw Foundation Alumni House was filled with laughter and good wishes when Pharmacy’s Class of ’82 gathered there on 8 September. Besides celebrating the 30th anniversary of their graduation, the alumni were also glad to express their appreciation to their teachers. Among the many faculty members in attendance were Prof Lucy Wan, Assoc Prof Ngiam Tong Lan, Assoc Prof R Karunanithy, Assoc Prof TRR Kurup, Assoc Prof Lee How Sung, Assoc Prof Ellick Wong, Prof Matthew Gwee, Assoc Prof Go Mei Lin and Assoc Prof Paul Heng.

Voices of ’82 “Our class is very special. In our second year at the University of Singapore, we merged with Nanyang University to form the Joint Campus. And when we graduated, we were the first batch of NUS graduates. These special circumstances meant that we were the only NUS cohort to have studied at all three campuses – Bukit Timah, Sepoy Lines and Kent Ridge!” Mrs Chan Yiam Moi, General Manager of Unity Pharmacy “I’d like to thank everyone – both our teachers and classmates who have taken the effort to be here!” Mr Kwan Yew Huat, Managing Director of Pharmaforte Pte Ltd



“It has been 30 years since we graduated, yet the fond memories of friendship and scholarship remain clearly in my mind. I was glad to see our professors again; they have imparted valuable knowledge and made a big difference in our lives.” Mr Lam Pin Woon, President and Executive Director of Healthway Medical Corporation “We were indeed blessed to have dedicated lecturers who took us under their wings and taught us to fly gracefully! Thank you, my dear lecturers and classmates!” Ms Christina Lim, President and CEO of Ocean Health Pte Ltd

“This reunion brought back very fond memories of the times we shared together. I especially appreciated the presence of our lecturers!” Dr Lim Beng Choo, International Development Projects and Regional Medical Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim

OCT–DEC 2012



KEY NOTE Celebrating the arts at NUS with style.


paradoxes that have become a part of its identity. The installation comprises three separate works of text and video.

Paintings, photographs and works of art in Semblance/Presence speak of religious devotion and exert a powerful presence in yet another exciting exhibition on the Kent Ridge Campus.

NUS Museum


Capturing the Straits

Melodies from those Days by the NUS Chinese Orchestra Catch musical gems and theme songs from well-known television dramas. Selections include Moonlight in the City, You’re the Best in the World and The Legend of the Swordsman, among many others. 5pm, 14 October (Saturday) UCC Theatre; $12 per ticket; NUS Wind Symphony


Da Capo 2012 by the NUS Wind Symphony An evening of music spiced with jazzand Latin-infused flavours.

NUS Harmonica Orchestra

Ilya Rashkovskiy

ticket; email

8pm, 23 October (Tuesday)

Colleen Lee 8pm, 24 October (Wednesday)

Giuseppe Andaloro 8pm, 25 October (Thursday)

Impressions 2012 by the NUS Harmonica Orchestra A fantastic platform for the young members of the NUS Harmonica Orchestra to reach out to the community and touch lives through music.

8pm, 17 October (Wednesday) UCC Theatre

Estaciones de las Guitarras by the NUS Guitar Ensemble Presenting excerpts from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Earl Klugh’s Kiko, Axel Jungbluth’s Strollin’ and other selections.

5pm, 27 October (Saturday) library@ esplanade

7.30pm, 21 October (Sunday)


UCC Theatre; $14 per ticket;

Vriksha by NUS Indian Dance A retelling of Kuo Pao Kun’s iconic The Silly Little Girl and the Funny Old Tree through the gestures, movement and expressions of classical Indian dance.

email nusguitarensemble@ Colleen Lee

8pm, 6 October (Saturday) UCC Theatre; $10 per ticket; email

Chasing Yesterday by NUS Stage A resonant, fast-paced work by Ms Gwendolyn Lee that revolves around three siblings navigating the relationships in their lives. Advisory: Strong language. 8pm, 31 October and 1 November (Wednesday and Thursday) NUS Indian Dance



UCC Theatre

Admission to all performances is free. Unless stated otherwise, tickets are available at the door (on a first-come, first-served basis) one hour before showtime. The audience capacity for the University Cultural Centre (UCC) Theatre is 400; each person in line may only collect two tickets.

Film still (right) courtesy of Renato Habulan and Alfredo Esquillo Jr, Mga Hinirang (Chosen People), 2012

All performances at the UCC Theatre

NUS Guitar Ensemble

Capturing the Straits: Painting and Postcard Views from the 19th and Early 20th Centuries This exhibition features paintings of the Straits Settlements by Charles Dyce, a resident of Singapore in the 1840s, together with postcard views of Malacca dating to the early 20th century. The images open a window into urban transformations within the region.

Tautology of Memory | Rupal Shah A work by the artist Rupal Shah, Tautology of Memory presents an archaeological site in Ajanta, India, and studies the ironies and

NUS Museum

Semblance/Presence | Renato Habulan and Alfredo Esquillo Jr Drawing on literary texts and artworks produced by artists Renato Habulan and Alfredo Esquillo Jr, this exhibition traces the life-worlds of Plaza Miranda, a public space in front of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, one of the main churches in the capital city of Manila.

NUS Baba House

University Cultural Centre 50 Kent Ridge Crescent, NUS, Singapore 119279 Tel: (65) 6516-8817 Email: museum@ Website: www. museum Opening hours are from 10am to 7.30pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays) and 10am to 6pm (Sundays). Admission is free.


157 Neil Road, Singapore 088883 Tel: (65) 6227-5731 Email: babahouse Website: http:// museum/baba Visits by appointment only. Visitors are required to sign up in advance for tours (offered on Mondays at 2pm, Tuesdays at 6.30pm, Thursdays at 10am and Saturdays at 11am). Admission is free.

Camping and Tramping Through the Colonial Archive

Camping and Tramping Through the Colonial Archive: The Museum in Malaya Inspired by a 19th-century document by a colonial British officer, this exhibition studies the institution of the museum in Malaya. It features writings and artefacts from NUS’ Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, the Asian Civilisations Museum, the National Museum of Singapore, the National Library Board, Singapore Press Holdings, the Singapore National Archives, the NUS Museum, and the Ivan Polunin and Mohammad Din Mohammad collections. Until June 2013

Until 31 October 2012


Ways of Seeing Chinese Art A stellar exhibit that presents an overview of Chinese ceramic art, featuring over 200 objects (including ceramics, jades and bronzes from the Lee Kong Chian Collection) dating from prehistory to the early 20th century. NUS Museum

NUS Museum

The Joy of Piano Three gifted young pianists pay tribute to celebrated composers ranging from Schubert to Stravinsky and Bach to Bartók.

7.30pm, 17 October (Wednesday)

• • •

The Sufi and the Bearded Man: Re-membering a Keramat in Contemporary Singapore A keramat (shrine) for a 19th-century Sufi traveller to the region comes alive at this exhibition, the culmination of a two-yearlong documentary project. Featuring photographs, material artefacts and personal histories, it puts forward new ways to consider our shared heritage. Until December 2012

NUS Piano Ensemble

The Singapore Conference Hall; $15 per

Tri-Angel by the NUS Piano Ensemble A contemporary retelling of the relationship between Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms.

Until January 2013

Until January 2013 NX Gallery, NUS Museum Semblance/Presence

OCT–DEC 2012


CULTURE Summer Notes Assoc Prof Albert Tiu teams up with the Conservatory Orchestra’s Principal Conductor, Assoc Prof Jason Lai, on an original composition and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2.


7.30pm, 10 November (Saturday) Conservatory Concert Hall; $15 from SISTIC

Go classical with these fantastic sessions presented by the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.

John Nelson Conducting Masterclass Internationally renowned for his interpretations of the Romantic repertoire, Mr John Nelson shares his ideas and insights with the NUS community. 6pm, 14 November (Wednesday) Conservatory Concert Hall; free admission

Steven Isserlis and Melvyn Tan Play Beethoven The Singapore Symphony Orchestra joins the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music to present cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Melvyn Tan in an all-Beethoven recital. 8pm, 15 November (Thursday) Conservatory Concert Hall; $20

Conservatory Concerto Competition: Grand Final Our talented student-musicians compete for the opportunity to play with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Conservatory Orchestra. Conservatory Concert Hall; free admission

Imani Winds Recital: East Meets West One of the most successful chamber music ensembles in the United States, this Grammy-nominated quintet has carved out a place in the classical music world via its dynamic playing and genredefying collaborations. 7.30pm, 12 October (Friday) Conservatory Concert Hall; free admission

Debussy Delights Celebrate the 150th anniversary of Claude Debussy’s birth with a selection of his chamber music. 7.30pm, 20 October (Saturday) Conservatory Concert Hall; free admission

Jack Liebeck Violin Recital Jack Liebeck made his concerto debut with the Hallé Orchestra at the age of 15 and is now established as one of the world’s most compelling young violinists. 7.30pm, 6 November (Tuesday) Conservatory Concert Hall; free admission

Sensing Sounds Under the direction of Ms Joyce Koh, the Conservatory New Music Ensemble performs five distinctive works. 7.30pm, 7 November (Wednesday) Esplanade Recital Studio; $20 from SISTIC



Assoc Prof Jason Lai


Organised by the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, the 2nd Performer’s Voice Symposium ( performersvoice) seeks to stimulate discussion and research on music performance from a variety of perspectives. The exciting programme (which runs from 25 to 28 October) includes the following plenary performances:

Jack Liebeck

Steven Isserlis

The Music of Pictures (by the T’ang Quartet)/ScarlattiCage (by Melvyn Tan)

James Morrison

7.30pm, 26 October

Concert Hall; $15



10pm, 27 October (Saturday) Conservatory

Conservatory Concert Hall; $15 from SISTIC

Colin Currie and Joe Burgstaller

Sarabandes and Tangos: Music by Bach and Piazzolla 4.30pm, 28 October

7pm, 27 October



Conservatory Concert

Conservatory Concert

Hall; free admission

Hall; $15 from SISTIC

Featuring Assoc Prof Qin Li-Wei on cello and Assoc Prof Albert Tiu on piano.

Assoc Prof Qin Li-Wei (left) and Assoc Prof Albert Tiu

Imani Winds Recital photo by Chris Carroll; Jack Liebeck photo by Chris Dunlop; Steven Isserlis photo by Kevin Davis

7.30pm, 18 November (Sunday) Imani Winds Recital


S S A L C S E T O N 2000s EUGENE LEE Arts and Social Sciences ’04 has an Honours degree in Geography. Mr Lee’s greatest takeaway from the discipline is “the ability to grasp the concept of contested spaces,” and to appreciate the fact that “conflict between groups of people in any place is inevitable”. This knowledge helped him to better understand different cultures in his first job with Singapore Airlines. Mr Lee now works for the Urban Redevelopment Authority, helping to shape the physical landscape “in a fashion that minimises conflict and yet optimises the use of our scarce land”.



1990s KEVIN SHEPHERDSON Arts and Social Sciences ’93 has a degree in English Language and has spent almost 20 years in senior leadership roles at Creative Technology, Sun Microsystems and Oracle Corporation. “The most important life skill I gained from NUS was learning how to learn,” he says. This philosophy has not only garnered him numerous employee excellence awards, it has also allowed Mr Shepherdson to take on fresh challenges as a career consultant and motivational speaker at his own firm, Straits Consultancy.

1980s MASTURAH SHA’ARI Arts and Social Sciences ’92 “It was a love for the arts that brought my husband, Jeffrey Wandly (Architecture, Building and Real Estate ’90, ’93) and I together in marriage in 1999. I have always loved art, but that didn’t stop me from graduating with a degree in Economics, and I have always been grateful for the guidance of my father, Hj Sha’ari Tadin (Arts and Social Science ’65, ’87), an educator and school principal who also served as the Senior Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Culture in the early 1970s. After graduating, I went into research and IT before pursuing a diploma in design. I have been a designer for more than 15 years and Jeffrey and I now run our own design firm, Sejati Cards. In April, we opened Maya Gallery, an art space in the historic Kampong Glam district that seeks to promote Singaporean artists. We are grateful to be able to share our story and hope it will inspire others to dream.”

ANNA KOH School of Computing ’86 and TAY LAY SUAN Business ’88 Ms Koh (left, in photo) and Ms Tay worked in the IT and finance industries for over 20 years before trading in their corporate suits in 2011 to start Stilettos Travel, a boutique travel company that serves women travellers. “Many of our female friends like to travel and have the means to do so, but are often constrained by different interests from their spouses or families,” says Ms Tay. “We want to give women a chance to travel and explore on their own!”

DR TAN GUAN Engineering ’83 is the Senior Principal for TY Lin International Pte Ltd. He has over 35 years of experience in the design and management of major building projects in Singapore and beyond. Dr Tan has also served the engineering community as the chairperson and member of various technical committees. In July, he received the SPRING Singapore Distinguished Partner Award for his contributions as Chairman of its Technical Committee for Building Structure and Sub-Structure.

GERMAINE LIM Arts and Social Sciences ’89 majored in Sociology and English Language. Over the last 20 years, she has worked in Singapore and the United Kingdom (where she was sponsored by her company, Liberty Store, to study Retail Management at the University of Oxford). At Procter & Gamble, Ms Lim served as General Manager of its luxury brand division for the Singaporean market. She is now a shareholder and Head of Business for HireRight, a recruitment consulting firm.

When she graduated from NUS in 1998, having majored in Mathematics, Ms Janice Chuah chose to follow her calling to be a teacher. She completed her Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) and was deployed to teach English, Mathematics and Science at Yio Chu Kang Primary School. That was in 2000; in 2006, she was posted to Ai Tong School. Ms Chuah, 39, has won many awards, including the Ministry of Education (MOE) Outstanding Contribution Award in 2001, 2004 and 2006; and the Caring Teacher Award, presented by ExxonMobil Asia, MOE and the National Institute of Education (NIE) in 2008. But the award that means the most to her is the Rotary International Gold Medal in 2000, which recognised her as the top student teacher in the PGDE (Primary) programme for excellence in the NIE examination, and for her outstanding leadership and dedication to student and extracurricular activities. “The award reaffirmed my decision to leave a promising career in sales and marketing to answer the call to teach,” Ms Chuah says. In 2009, she stopped working because she wanted to spend more time with her three children – two sons and a daughter – who are now aged 11, eight and five. “I wanted to soak in the bliss of their company and watch them grow. You can sit a child down to teach him English, Mathematics or Science but values are best

taught through unplanned opportunities that arise through daily interactions,” says Ms Chuah. She started giving tuition at home when her children were in school. Ms Chuah had five students to start with, but by the end of the first year, that number had grown by more than 10 times. That was the beginning of Concept Math, a Mathematics learning centre that teaches young children from Primary 1 to 6. The centre’s unique selling point, says Ms Chuah, is that its curriculum teaches Mathematics using a “conceptual approach”. Explaining the Mathematical concepts behind the question will allow the student to see how a correct answer is arrived at, and means that the child is equipped with “problem solving skills that will ‘feed him for a lifetime’.” Surprisingly, Ms Chuah lets on that she wasn’t always good at the subject. “I was very weak in math in secondary school. I once got four out of 100 marks for a test – I can still hear my teacher’s sarcastic remark that it was an art to get that grade! I struggled through math in NUS. My then-boyfriend coached me and I paid a very high tuition fee: I married him! “I am an excellent math teacher – I understand why my students don’t understand.”


Submit a Class Note on your awards, adventures and achievements, or make announcements on marriages and births! Send an email to with your Class Note of not more than 50 words. Do state your name, faculty and year of graduation. Class Notes may be edited for clarity and length.

OCT–DEC 2012

Text by Theresa Tan Photo of Janice Chuah by Stan Ngo

g en happenin e b s t’ a h w s Share with su since graduation! in your live

Ms Janice Chuah (Arts and Social Sciences ‘98) has parlayed her skills in Mathematics and a love for teaching into a successful business.




I spent my formative years at St Patrick’s School and St Joseph’s Institution. These were schools run by the La Salle Brothers. They dedicated their lives to educating us. The Brothers reminded us daily that we each had an obligation to help the last, the lost and the least. Singapore’s success cannot be judged solely by our ranking on international tables or the success of our highest flyers. As a society, we must judge ourselves by how we care for those in need... Together, we should ensure that the last are not left behind, the lost have a guiding hand and the least are the first in our considerations as a democratic society.

Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam (Science ’62) Singapore President and Chancellor of NUS August 2011

Photo from Getty Images




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