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true passion

NUSS Fifty Years and On

1954 - 2004


NU


USS


true passion

NUSS Fifty Years and On

1954 - 2004


true passion

NUSS Fifty Years and On

Writer and Editorial Consultant Christine Chua Design and Production razorSHARK Design Pte Ltd

Published by National University of Singapore Society Kent Ridge Guild House, 9 Kent Ridge Drive, Singapore 119241 Tel: 6779 1811 Fax: 6778 8095 E-mail: secretariat@nuss.org.sg Website: www.nuss.org.sg

true passion NUSS Fifty Years and On

NUSS History Editorial Committee Lai Kim Seng, Basskaran Nair, Setyadi Ongkowidjaja, Jenny Ng

ISBN: 981-05-3565-1 Š 2005 National University of Singapore Society No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrival system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the Publisher. Photo Credits National University of Singapore Pages 37, 113, 114, 118


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

W

e have had an eventful 10 years since the publication of The Heart Is Where It Is, The NUSS Story which documented the first 40 years of the Society’s history. It is therefore fitting and timely to update our archival history as we commemorate our 50th year. The significant changes that have taken place in the last decade and the jubilee celebrations have been recorded in a commemorative volume. We hope that this publication will be a platform for future volumes on the history of the Society as well as a resource for subsequent developments. True Passion, NUSS Fifty Years and On NUSS History Editorial Committee From right: Setyadi Ongkowidjaja, Lai Kim Seng, Jenny Ng and Basskaran Nair with writer Christine Chua.

We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to HE S R Nathan, President, Republic of Singapore for his gracious acceptance to be our Patron for the 50th anniversary celebrations and for contributing the Foreword to this book. Through considerable research of the Society’s archives, we have a complete compilation of the times. On many occasions, individuals have generously dedicated time and resources to assist in this task. Others have agreed to be interviewed while fellow members and staff have patiently contributed their ideas. To all, we extend our sincere appreciation and thanks. In conclusion, we would also like to thank the Management Committee and the staff of NUSS for making this project possible.

Editorial Committee


CONTENTS Page 4 Page 6 Page 8 Page 10

Acknowledgement Foreword Message NUSS Milestones

Chapter 1

VISIONARIES AND STEWARDS: 1954 – 1993

Page 12

Introduction Birth of the Stamford Club Postwar Years Formation of University of Malaya Search for a Permanent Home Formation of University of Singapore

Chapter 2

TRUE PASSION: 1994 – 2003

Page 40

Introduction Head – Intellectual and Cultural Activities Hands – The Physical Expansion Heart – All Things Social Soul – Our Work in the Community Head, Hands, Heart and Soul – The NUS and NUSS

Chapter 3

WE TURNED 50! A YEAR IN PICTURES: 2004

Page 80 Introduction Creating New Grounds...... Official Opening of NUSS Guild House at Suntec City Championing A Good Cause...... Golf Fund-raising Tournament The Merry Widow Operetta Togetherness for Fun...... NUSS Day and Walkathon Society and Families...... NUSS Driveaway to Terengganu Celebrating Ties That Bind...... Mid-Year Swing: Back to the ’50s Gala Dinner Engaging Minds...... NUSS Professorship Lecture Political Forum: Leadership Change in Singapore Dialogue: A Politics Conducive to Nation Building The NUSS 50th Anniversary Lecture

Chapter 4

LOOKING AHEAD: THE FUTURE

Page 110

Looking Ahead A Home on Campus: The Alumni Complex Project Towards a Single Alumni Body Global Connectivity


Foreword

L

ooking back at the annals of the Society’s history over the last 50 years, there has been much for the Society to celebrate. Today, the Society has more than 12,000 members and three guild houses – in Adam Park, Suntec City and Kent Ridge – to serve its members. It has come a long way from its humble beginnings of just 44 members in 1954. On the intellectual front, the Society continues to provide a forum for debate and to stimulate robust discourse on significant issues of long-term relevance to Singapore. Topics covered relate not only to Singapore but also to the region and the world, and they help members to keep abreast of important developments. It is good that NUSS continues these forums, talks and lectures, especially by world-renowned and eminent personalities, acknowledged for their expertise and their perspective in their respective fields, and whose contributions to serious discussions are much valued by those who attend. I am also pleased to learn of the increasing collaboration between the Society and its alma mater, NUS. The Society’s strong support for the setting up of the NUS Scholarship and Student Loan Fund and the NUSS Professorship is evident of this growing nexus between the Society and NUS. The building of a new Alumni Complex at Kent


Ridge in partnership with NUS should add to this growing bond. I hope the NUSS will continue to strengthen this partnership and help keep NUS ahead in the globally-competitive tertiary education landscape. This growing bond is but an acknowledgement by the Society and its members of the benefits of the higher education they secured through their years in the University. It is therefore fitting that in conjunction with its 50th anniversary, the Society has donated the proceeds from its various 50th anniversary activities to several charitable organisations. Our graduates, as leaders within the Singapore social fabric, must set the examples of kindness and a generous spirit of giving and caring for the less fortunate in our society. Looking ahead into the next several decades, I am confident that NUSS will grow in strength, and serve with passion and dedication its alma mater, the community and the nation. My heartiest congratulations go to the National University of Singapore Society on the occasion of its Golden Jubilee.

S R Nathan President Republic of Singapore And Patron, NUSS 50th Anniversary Celebrations


Message

T

his commemorative book, True Passion, NUSS Fifty Years and On, captures the indomitable NUSS spirit in words and pictures, and is also the theme for our year-long 50th anniversary celebrations. It is a fitting tribute to the many among us, whose contributions and personal sacrifices have helped to shape and transform the Society into the highly respected institution NUSS is today. The last 50 years has been an incredible journey – one fuelled by the passion and commitment of each and every member, past and present, who has believed in the Society and shared in its well-being, mission and success. In spite of having to weather major crises in the past decade – Asian financial crisis in 1997, Iraq war in 2001, SARS outbreak in 2003 and global terrorist threats – NUSS has continued to make significant strides. Arising from the two-fold increase in membership, the Society’s facilities have expanded to meet the increasing demand for socio-cultural, intellectual and continuing education programmes. Throughout the unprecedented recession years, we remained a caring Society extending a helping hand to fellow members who had experienced temporary difficulties. Collectively, we have also contributed through key community work, to charitable causes as well as to the President’s Challenge.


While documenting the Society’s 50 years of solid achievements, this tome will serve as a reminder and re-affirmation of our core values of selfless service, a deeper sense of purpose and mission, and an abiding commitment to excellence for both the Society and our alma mater. There is still much to do and drawing lessons from the past we will consolidate our gains and chart out our future paths to reach for a higher level of achievements. Exciting developments and challenges lie ahead in the fast changing landscape of tertiary education in Singapore. To remain a premier university, our alma mater has to benchmark itself against the best academic institutions and compete in the local and international arena for talent. In a fiercely competitive globalised environment, the new generation of graduates will be increasingly mobile as they uproot themselves, some temporarily and others permanently, to seek career and business opportunities overseas. As the largest alumni body in the country, NUSS can and should aim to serve as an anchor point for these alumni to remain connected and stay rooted to NUS and Singapore. Finally, the Society owes a debt of gratitude to our Patron, the Editorial Committee, 50th Anniversary Steering Committee, Management Committee, fellow members and staff for putting in a great deal of effort and time to preserve and contribute to a valuable piece of the Society’s history for future generations. To each of you, I offer the Society’s heartfelt thanks.

LAI KIM SENG President, 2001 – 2005 The National University of Singapore Society


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T R U E

NUSS Milestones

P A S S I O N

1905

Straits Settlements and Federal Malay States Government Medical School opens.

1910

The first seven students graduate with the Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery.

1912

The institution’s name is changed to King Edward VII College of Medicine.

1928

Raffles College opens.

1929

Raffles College’s official opening.

1931

The first 28 Raffles College students graduate with Arts or Science diplomas. Eleven of them get together in Singapore and decide to meet regularly.

1935 1936

Raffles College graduates in Singapore appoint convenors. Inaugural meeting of the Stamford Club, Singapore, held at Victoria School. Membership: 30. Stamford Clubs are formed in Malaya as well, at this time.

1942 - 1945

Raffles College and King Edward VII College of Medicine closes during the Japanese Occupation, re-opens in 1946.

1947

The Carr-Saunders Commission on tertiary education comes to Singapore and Malaya. Stamford Clubs work overtime to argue for full university status.

1948

Raffles College Ordinance amended to allow two representatives of graduates on the College Council. The Carr-Saunders Commission recommends the amalgamation of Raffles College and the College of Medicine to establish the University of Malaya.

1949

University of Malaya opens and continues the practice of having representatives of graduates on the Council. The representatives are elected by the Guild Graduates.

1950

University of Malaya awards its first degrees.

1954

Inaugural meeting of the University of Malaya Society (UMS) held at Oei Tiong Ham Hall, Bukit Timah Campus on 1 July. Present: 44 members.

1956

Nanyang University opens.

1958

UMS operates from a room in the Cultural Centre at Canning Rise. Unversity of Malaya operates campuses in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

1959

Singapore achieves internal self-government with an elected Prime Minister.

1960

UMS operates from ground floor of 7 Cluny Road, premises provided by the University. Starts Drama Group.

1961

UMS stages its first play, John Arden’s Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance.

1962

University of Malaya splits. University of Singapore opens. Singapore declares independence and joins Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. UMS becomes the University of Singapore Society (USS). Forms Current Affairs Study Group. Publishes The Grad.

1964

USS moves into 5 Dalvey Estate – the first Guild House.

1965

Singapore separates from Malaysia on 9 August and becomes a Republic.


N U S S

F i f t y

1967

USS launches Student Loan Fund.

1968

USS launches Commentary to “serve as a forum for interesting views on contemporary issues” and to make up for a “lack of suitable media”.

1969

University of Singapore secures site at Kent Ridge for its new campus.

1971

USS moves to its second Guild House: 15 Evans Road.

1974

University of Singapore and Nanyang University establish a common admissions board for first-degree students.

1978

Joint Campus set up at Bukit Timah to promote closer ties between the two Universities.

1980

Evans Road Guild House burns down. University of Singapore and Nanyang University merged to form the National University of Singapore (NUS). No longer a Guild of Graduates and representatives are no longer elected to be on the University Council.

1981

USS becomes the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS). Nanyang Technological Institute established.

1984

Kent Ridge Guild House opens, built on land provided by NUS.

1985

The Drama Sub-committee becomes the Cultural Sub-committee.

1986

NUS completes transfers of all faculties and departments to the Kent Ridge Campus.

1987

Adam Park Guild House opens in March, followed by City Guild House in October.

1989

NUSS pledges $1.6 million to the National University of Singapore Student Loan Fund, donating $200,000 a year. NUS sets up Alumni Affairs Office to strengthen ties with graduates.

Y e a r s

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1991

NUSS completes Strategic Planning exercise. Launches the annual NUSS Lecture. Promotes establishment of Singapore’s first Western opera company, Lyric Theatre (Singapore) Limited. Nanyang Technological University established. Billion-dollar support for university education. The Fund’s Secretariat is at NUS and its Campaign Director is the Director of the NUS Alumni Affairs and Development Office whose scope has been enlarged, hence the longer name.

1994

Kent Ridge Guild House expansion and upgrading.

1995

NUSS pledges $1.5 million to the Universities Endowment Fund to establish the NUSS Professorship to NUS.

1997

Opening of Orchard Guild House at Level 8, Cineleisure Orchard in December. City Guild House at Amara Hotel closes down.

1998

Official opening of Orchard Guild House in November.

2000

Kent Ridge Guild House basement level upgrading October to December.

2001

NUSS completes Strategic Planning exercise.

2003

Closure of Orchard Guild House on 10 November. Soft launch of Suntec City Guild House on 15 December.

2004

NUSS celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Pledges $20 million to the Alumni Complex.


Introduction

“The passion and commitment of those who were the Society’s visionaries and stewards have made all the difference. It was their faith and their devotion to each other and their alma mater which drove the Society to its pinnacles of attainment. Most inspiring of all, is the knowledge that, throughout the Society’s history up to the present, we have among us members who are caring enough to strive against the odds and courageous enough not to give up their endeavours to improve the common good. That is the priceless spirit of the Singaporean graduate.” Anwarul Haque

T

his was Anwarul Haque’s tribute to the members of the National University of Singapore Society. President of the Society from 1988 to 1994, he penned these words in the foreword to The Heart Is Where It Is, The NUSS Story. Published in 1994, the painstakingly researched book documents the first 40 years of the history of the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS). The Heart Is Where It Is, The NUSS Story traces the growth of the Society as it evolved from its early establishment as the Stamford Club in the 1930s to the University of Malaya Society in the 1950s, to the present National University of Singapore Society.


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Indeed, it is the passion and commitment of our home-grown graduates that have shaped the history of the Society. These visionaries and stewards were the special force that propelled the Society and enabled it to grow from its modest beginnings to the organisation that it is today. Today, the Society operates Guild Houses in three locations – Kent Ridge, Adam Park and Suntec City. It offers facilities on par with any established country club, has a membership of 12,000, and employs a team of professional staff to manage the day-to-day running of the Society. This is a far cry from its humble beginnings – at the 1954 inauguration of the University of Malaya Society, only 44 graduates were present. While the Society traces its founding to the inauguration of the University of Malaya Society in 1954, its history goes a little further back – to the Stamford Club formed in the 1930s. The Stamford Club was born out of a desire on the part of the graduates of Raffles College to keep social ties alive. In colonial Singapore, members engaged in activities that mirrored the way of life of their British masters – English tea, tennis and cricket, reading poetry, penning letters. Stirrings of political consciousness were

Those halcyon days: Cricket, tennis and socials were part of local graduates’ lives in the late 1930s and early 1940s.


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present – awareness of inequalities in remuneration between local and expatriate employees and the sheer lack of equal employment opportunities planted the seeds of discontent among the local graduates. This discontent would gestate while the country was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945, and find expression after the war in the Society’s fight for more Malayans to be employed in the Civil Service and for equitable terms of service between locals and Europeans in the private sector.

Indeed, it is the passion and commitment of our home-grown graduates that have shaped the history of the Society. Those early years were about the Society’s search for a permanent home of its own. Yong Nyuk Lin, Honorary Secretary of the Stamford Club in 1947, recalls writing articles, typing them and cyclostyling them himself. “The Club did not have any money to speak of. The subscriptions were minimal,” he said. In postwar Singapore, the Club shared premises with the Malayan Democratic Union and the Singapore Teachers’ Union, even using their tables and chairs when these were unoccupied. A far cry from the slick and modern operations of today indeed. When the Stamford Club gave way to the University of Malaya Society in 1954 with the founding of the University of Malaya, the Society remained without a place of its own, meeting in the homes of its members. It took another six years before the Society got premises of its own – the ground floor of a two-storey bungalow at


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7 Cluny Road, courtesy of the University. In the next 20 years, the Society was to move twice, first to 5 Dalvey Estate, then to 15 Evans Road. In those lean years, with each move, members had to pitch in with the physical work of hacking, painting and moving, and calling on their contacts for donations of materials and cash. Those were years when the Society was low in cash and resources but high on camaraderie and resourcefulness. In 1978, the Society received approval to build a Guild House on Kent Ridge campus. Six years later, the Kent Ridge Guild House was completed. In December 1984, when Kent Ridge Guild House was officially opened, the Society had more than 4,000 members, with membership growing at the rate of 40 new members a month. By the time the Society celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1993, membership had grown to more than 8,000, and the Kent Ridge Guild House facilities included a bar and lounge, a dining room, a 300-seat multi-purpose hall, function rooms, tennis courts, squash courts, a pool and a fitness centre. The Society had also added Guild Houses in two new locations with the establishment of the Adam Park Guild House and the City Guild House at Amara Hotel.

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Camaraderie at Adam Park Guild House.


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Passion

The of Involvement

hen surveying the impressive facilities the NUSS offers today through its three Guild Houses at Kent Ridge, Adam Park and Suntec City, the sense of achievement its members must feel is all the sweeter knowing that the journey the Society made to get here was a tough, uphill one. In the early days of the Society, the lack of money was a constant challenge. In fact, for many years, the Society did not even have a home to call its own. Yet the lack of financial resources was no obstacle, but served instead to bring out the passion and commitment of its members who came up with creative ways to overcome the Society’s financial shortcomings. The University of Malaya Society, the precursor to the NUSS, held its inaugural meeting in 1954 at the Oei Tiong Ham Hall in the Bukit Timah campus of the university. For the next four years, the Society met at the homes of its members, in locations as disparate as Tanjong Rhu and Eng Neo Avenue. In 1960, the Society finally got premises of its own – of sorts. It shared a two-storey bungalow at 7 Cluny Road with the Academic Staff Association. The Society occupied the ground floor and the Association the first floor. It was Paul Abisheganaden, Maurice Baker and Prof Kiang Ai Kim who were among those who asked Dr B R Sreenivasan, then Principal of the Singapore Division of the University of Malaya, for a place on campus grounds for the Society. While pleased that they finally had a floor of their own, the Society’s officials never gave up the search for its own premises. In 1964, by which time the University of Malaya Society had become the University of Singapore Society, the Society acquired its first Guild House, thanks to

Ranu Bhattacharya and Donald Wyatt.

As Ranu tells it: “Donald and I went to see Dr Reginald Quahe (then deputy Vice-Chancellor) in 1964. ‘Give us something,’ we said. Dr Quah said, ‘What about 5 Dalvey Estate?’ We said, ‘We’ll take it!’” “It” was an abandoned two-storey house that had seen better days. Undaunted, members rolled up their sleeves and enthusiastically got down to work transforming the run-down black-and-white colonial bungalow into the Society’s first, somewhat basic Guild House, with a bar, tennis court, billiards room and a canteen. Ranu Bhattacharya and Chris Dally then.

Donald Wyatt


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S Rajendran, former High Court Judge, and then Secretary of the Society, recalls

building the bar with other members: “Every evening after office, we went to the Guild House with a hammer and nails and put it together. It took us six months to complete it. We had a part-time carpenter, and Toh Weng Cheong, Amarjit Singh, Chris Dally and myself knocked it together.” Named Three Lanterns after the three ornate lanterns that hung over the bar, a gift from K Visvalingam, father-in-law of Donald Wyatt, the bar was a source of income for the Guild House. In those days, the Society could only afford to pay the salary of one barman; so a group of volunteers ran the bar and kept the drinks flowing, staying behind each night until the last customer had left, to count the night’s takings. S. Rajendran

In 1971, there was a crisis when the Society was asked to vacate 5 Dalvey Estate. Though offered alternative premises of a bungalow at 15 Evans Road, a few doors down from the existing Guild House, the move meant that the Society could not recoup the money spent on renovations to the Guild House over the years. It also came at a time when the Society’s funds were low. What do you do when there is no money? V V Giri recounts: “We used our old university connections to obtain overdrafts for the Society. They helped with our bills and expenses for renovations and extensions.” Members came up with innovative ways of bringing in revenue. As Giri tells it, “We also brought in more jackpot machines. Old university ties facilitated the application for permits and installation of machines. The revenue was so good we got eight more jackpot machines! These one-armed bandits were particularly popular with the women!”

Prof Kiang Ai Kim recalls another financially challenging episode in the Society’s history. In 1978, the Society was given the green light to build a Guild House at Kent Ridge. Prof Kiang, a member of the Management Committee then, recounts, “At first, we were thinking of spending $800,000. Gradually, the budget increased to $2 million, then to $4 million!” By 1982, the budget had burgeoned to a staggering $5.5 million. How would they get the money? In 1981, Kumar Lal and his committee decided to raise the entrance fee from $15 to $1,000. As Kumar Lal said, “We hope that the vision of a Kent Ridge Guild House will draw the crowds. We hope they would think that $1,000 is a bargain. But we were not sure what kind of response we will get.” The response surprised them. Cheques arrived. Then, while fellow graduates had to be persuaded into joining the Society, it now had people queuing up for membership. Emboldened, it announced that the fees would be doubled in 1982. A total of 1,700 people joined the Society, and $1.7 million was raised in a mere three weeks.

Prof Kiang Ai Kim


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Birth of the Stamford Club Raffles College opened its doors to its first students in 1928. Prior to this, tertiary education was available only for those who were training for a career in medicine at the Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School. Established

Aerial view of Raffles College.

The first intake of Raffles College, set up in 1928 to offer Arts and Sciences studies.

Opposite Page: The Tan Teck Guan Building of the King Edward VII College of Medicine.

in 1905, the Medical School became the King Edward VII College of Medicine in 1921. It was only seven years after the formation of King Edward VII College of Medicine that Raffles College was set up in 1928, offering Arts and Science studies to a first cohort of 43 students. This number was whittled down to 33 within a year. Nine students, unable to cope with the demands of their studies, dropped out within a month. There were 34 students left, then 33, when A P Rajah (who went on to become a lawyer, politician, diplomat and Supreme Court judge) left to read law in London. In 1931, 28 of these 33 students graduated with Arts or Science diplomas.


Raffles College opened its doors to its first students in 1928. V i sion a r ie s

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For the graduates, their Raffles College education provided an entry into comfortable middle-class life, one where convivial conversation was enjoyed amidst English tea, literary pursuits, and sports such as tennis and cricket. An informal Raffles College graduate society grew out of a desire to keep in touch with fellow graduates in Malaya. Stamford Clubs were formed across Malaya. Not all sought formal registration, but all took on the name Stamford, an obvious choice, as Raffles College was named after Sir Stamford Raffles.

A slice of social life at Raffles College in colonial Singapore.

The Stamford Club in Singapore was formed in 1936 with thirty graduates of Raffles College. On February 8, 1936, the Stamford Club held its inaugural meeting at Victoria School. One of its objectives was to “afford opportunities for the discussion of literary, scientific and general subjects.�

convivial conversation was enjoyed amidst English tea


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While the local graduates of Raffles College could well afford to live it up and enjoy the good life, they also had an awakening of social consciousness when they experienced at first hand the disparity in salaries and opportunities between local graduates and expatriates. Plum jobs in the private sector went only to sons of British directors and executives. The salary for a Raffles College-trained teacher then ranged from $130 to $300, compared to teachers from Britain, who started at a salary of $400. Any action that the graduates could have taken to redress such inequalities, however, had to wait until after the Japanese Occupation, which began in 1942 and ended in 1945.

Aerial view of Raffles College (1920s). Its first cohort of 33 students graduated in 1933.


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Postwar Years After the Japanese Occupation, the Stamford Club took up shared premises at 331 North Bridge Road with the Malayan Democratic Union (MDU), the Singapore Teachers’ Union (STU) and the Singapore Cooperative Store. Yong Nyuk Lin, who became honorary secretary in 1947, recalls how the Stamford Club did not even have the money for a cubicle of its own within the premises, and had to use the tables and chairs of the MDU and the STU when these were available.

Yong Nyuk Lin then. Nyuk Lin went on to serve in the cabinet as Minister of Education in the 1960s.

“The Club had no money to speak of, so we had to encourage members to come and give their support.”

Nyuk Lin’s first task in postwar Singapore was to contact some 380 alumni and persuade them to sign up for membership. He recalls, “The Club had no money to speak of, so we had to encourage members to come and give their support.” And support they needed, for there were issues to address. “We wanted to help members get a fair deal, work with the teachers’ union on the issue of salaries, fight for backpay for the occupation years which the British gave to their own kind but not to the locals,” he said. In addition to the fight for equitable terms of service between locals and Europeans, the Stamford Club also lobbied for more Malayans to be hired in the Civil Service and also for equal terms and opportunities in the private sector. At the first postwar Raffles College reunion in 1947, Stamford Club President, Lee Siow Mong, urged members to work together to abolish prejudice against local graduates, pointing out that local graduates had not been recruited into the Civil Service since 1939. In the same speech, he also sought representation by Raffles College alumni on the governing Council of the College and that of the future University of Malaya. In 1947, the Stamford Club wrote to the Colonial Secretary to request for graduate representation on the Raffles College Council. The exchange of correspondence with the Club and the Raffles College Council was reproduced in the August 1947


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edition of GRAD, the Stamford Club’s monthly newsletter. The Colonial Secretary’s position was that graduate representation should include the entire graduate body (not just Singapore graduates or Malayan Union graduates) and concluded that it would consider the request should a vacancy arise. The Club, in its reply, agreed that representation should be on a Malayan basis but urged the Council to consider legislation to accommodate two nominees of the College. The publication of the Trusted Commission on teachers’ salaries in the same year also galvanised the members into action. The report had agreed with the evidence of the Education Department against the graduates and accepted that they did not measure up to the standard of British university graduates. Twenty-one Raffles College alumni from Singapore and Malaya met on the weekend of 20 and 21 December 1947 in the Kuala Lumpur home of William Fernando. President Lee Siow Mong, Vice President

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In 1948, the Raffles College Ordinance was amended to allow graduates to elect two representatives to the Raffles College Council.

Lee Siow Mong (centre) then. Siow Mong was an ardent advocate for the recruitment of local graduates into the Civil Service.


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Evelyn Norris and Committee member Prof Kiang Ai Kim represented the Singapore Stamford Club. That meeting resulted in the formation of the Pan-Malayan Council of the Stamford Club. Lee Siow Mong was elected Chairman, William Fernando Vice-Chairman, Prof Kiang Ai Kim as Honorary Secretary and Treasurer and seven others, including Evelyn Norris, as Council Members. One of the first tasks for the Pan-Malayan Council was to send a resolution to the Singapore and Malayan Union Governments objecting to the Trusted Commission’s recommendations for graduate teachers and arguing for more equitable schemes for graduates in public service.

Prof Kiang Ai Kim then.

Evelyn Norris (front row, second from the left) then. Prof Kiang Ai Kim and Evelyn Norris were both elected as committee members of the Pan-Malayan Council of the Stamford Club.

In January 1948, a month after the formation of the Pan-Malayan Council of the Stamford Club, it was announced that the Raffles College Ordinance would be amended to allow graduates to elect two representatives to the Raffles College Council. The Singapore Club’s President Lee Siow Mong was nominated to represent Stamford Club and Dr B R Sreenivasan was nominated to represent the Medical College Alumni.


We recommend that a University of Malaya, with facilities of Arts, Science and Medicine, should be created forthwith V i sion a r ie s

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Formation of University of Malaya In the same year, the Alexander Carr-Saunders Commission on tertiary education concluded that Raffles College and the College of Medicine should be merged to become the University of Malaya. This was a tremendous boost for the alumni, considering that the earlier Asquith Report had concluded that Singapore’s Raffles College was not ready to become a full-fledged university. The Carr-Saunders Commission was announced a year before, in January 1947, and the team arrived in Singapore to begin work, a swift two months later. Stamford Club members had to work at frenetic pace to ensure that their views were heard.

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Medical Faculty, University of Malaysia then.


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Academic staff and the last batch of students at Raffles College in 1948.

They travelled up and down the Malayan peninsula garnering support, crafted their petitions and argued their cases. Goh Keng Swee and Seow Cheng Fong were mainly responsible for the drafting of the Stamford Club’s memorandum.

Three of the pioneer graduates of the University of Malaysia. From left: Marie Aroozoo, Margaret Lee and Hedwig Aroozoo.

Their efforts paid off. The Carr-Saunders Commission were impressed by the presentations and memorandum by the alumni on behalf of the Stamford Club, as

Hedwig went on to become the first Singaporean director of the National Library of Singapore.

well as those of the other institutions – the Malayan Democratic Union, Singapore Teachers’ Union, Medical College Union and the Medical Alumni Association of Singapore. In its report published in May 1948, it concluded that “the commission derived the impression that the difference between Raffles College’s diploma and the University of London’s first degree in Arts and Social Science, if any, cannot be considerable. We were fortified in this impression by our meetings with past and present students of the College. We were able to meet many of the present students both formally and informally. We were favourably impressed by these meetings… We recommend that a University of Malaya, with faculties of Arts, Science and Medicine, should be created forthwith.”


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The University of Malaya accepted its first students in 1949 – 83 new students for Medicine, 91 for Arts and Science, and 442 students from Raffles College and College of Medicine. Of the 442, some already had Raffles College diplomas and entered the University to do Honours; the others were undergraduates in the two colleges. The University awarded its first degrees in May 1950.

Tea reception after its convocation ceremony.

The Carr-Saunders Commission recommended the formation of the University of Malaya in 1947. It awarded its first degrees in May 1950.


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Search for a Permanent Home A Liaison Committee of the Alumni Association of King Edward VII College of Medicine and the Stamford Club was elected to start work on the drafting of the constitution of the proposed University of Malaya Society. This took four years in the making, and in 1954 the Liaison Committee announced that it was ready to present its draft constitution.

At the 1 July 1954 inaugural meeting of the University of Malaya Society, 44 graduates met and discussed the constitution article by article and approved it with amendments. The following were elected into the Executive Committee – K M Byrne (President), Tay Teck Eng (Vice President), Dr Toh Chin Chye (Honorary Secretary), Dr Goh Keng Swee (Honorary Treasurer), Hedwig Aroozoo and Minnie Knight (Committee Members). The founding of the University of Malaya Society led to the dissolution of the Stamford Clubs. Notice calling for members to discuss the draft constitution of the University of Malaya Society.

The early years of the Society were characterised by a lack of money and a state of homelessness. When the University of Malaya Society was inaugurated in 1954, it met at Oei Tiong Ham Hall on the Bukit Timah campus. The Society began the search for a place of its own. Its first AGM in 1955 was held at the YMCA at Stamford Road. Committee meetings for the next few years were held all over the island – in the Tanjong Rhu Road home of Lim Kim San (President, 1956 and later one of Singapore’s Cabinet Ministers), the Arthur Road home of K M Byrne (President, 1955), the Ross Avenue home of Dr V Thambipillai (President, 1957),


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the Eng Neo Avenue home of Louis Hon Yung Sen (Vice-President, 1957) and the Cuscaden Road home of Dr Chee Phui Hung (President, 1959). It was only in 1960, six years after the inauguration of the University of Malaya Society, that the Society finally found a permanent home – the ground floor of 7 Cluny Road, courtesy of the University. Paul Abisheganaden (then a member on the University Council; President, 1962), Maurice Baker (President, 1973) and Prof Kiang Ai Kim (President, 1965) went to see Dr B R Sreenivasan, then Principal of the Singapore Division of the University of Malaya, and asked for a place on campus for the Society. The University of Malaya shared the premises with the Academic Staff Association, which occupied the upper floor of the two-storey bungalow. While this was an improvement over a room in the then Cultural Centre at Canning Rise that the Society had earlier acquired the use of, the Society never gave up the search for a place of its own.

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The Society’s first Guild House at 5 Dalvey Estate was a second home to many members until 1971 when the Society moved to 5 Evans Road.


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Thespians at Dalvey Estate Guild House: The Drama Group made good use of the space it did not have before for its rehearsals.

formation of University of Singapore

What the members lacked in facilities they made up for with activities.

As the Society had no money, all the work of sprucing up the first Guild House was undertaken by the members. Lawyer Toh Weng Cheong recalls: “Donald Wyatt, S Rajendran, Low Siew Joon, Stephen Tai were the able-bodied young men who did the painting, hacking and cleaning. Others, like Prof Kiang Ai Kim, Ranu Bhattacharya and David Thambayah tapped their contacts for materials and cash donations.” Prof Kiang Ai Kim even sent from the Science Block a pile of discarded broken bricks to reinforce the sides of the driveway and to fill in potholes.

In 1962, the University of Singapore was established as separate and independent of the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, and the University of Malaya Society became the University of Singapore Society. The Society acquired its first Guild House at 5 Dalvey Estate. Ranu Bhattacharya and Donald Wyatt petitioned Dr Reginald Quahe (then Deputy Vice Chancellor) in 1964 for a place the Society could call its own. Dr Quahe offered them the two-storey black and white colonial-style house at 5 Dalvey Estate. The abandoned building came with an outhouse, a garage that had lost its roof, and servants’ quarters. They readily accepted the place.


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The first Guild House was a modest one. A bar, tennis court, billiards room, canteen and two jackpot machines made up the facilities offered. Tan Teck Chwee, a teacher who became a contractor, paid for the building of the tennis court. Tan Puay Hwee contributed a billiards table. What the members lacked in facilities they made up for with activities. The Society’s Study Group organised talks and forums. Its Drama Group relished the space it did not previously have for meetings and rehearsals. The Society introduced fun rallies for car owners and their friends, who had to drive all over the island looking for clues to the next reporting point. With its proximity to the campus, the Guild House was also a place where the alumni could socialise with undergraduates. Says former Justice S Rajendran of the Supreme Court and President of the Society (1971), “Being at the Guild House and being available to the undergrads was a way for us to contribute to university life after we had graduated. That was and still should be a major role for members of a graduate society – to talk with the students, answer their questions, share with them wider visions about life and careers. A lot of this was happening at Dalvey Estate, and this mission of the graduate was satisfactorily fulfilled.” In March 1971, the Society was asked to vacate its premises at 5 Dalvey Estate. This period marked the lowest point in alumni-alma mater relations. Ernest Wong

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remembers the episode as somewhat of a descent to despair. The Society was given short notice, and emissaries went to and fro before alternative premises of a dilapidated house at 15 Evans Road was offered to the Society. In a pre-emptive move to avoid the same fate of being evicted from Evans Road, the Society sought the support and commitment of Dr Maurice Baker, then Head of the University of Singapore’s English Department. Ernest Wong recalls, “We needed a strong go-between, someone who had clout with (then Vice-Chancellor) Dr Toh Chin Chye.”

Thus read the field incident report of the Singapore Fire Brigade of the fire that destroyed the Evans Road Guild House in 1980: “Arson is suspected to be the cause of fire.”

Dr Baker recalls, “I was having dinner at Ladyhill’s Le Chalet, and Ernest (Wong) and (Herman) Hochstadt appeared. They asked if I would go to a meeting at the Society at Evans Road after dinner. I went. And I found that in my absence I had been elected President of the Society!” Under Dr Baker’s leadership between 1973 and 1975, relations with the University improved. In 1974, the Society donated $3,000 to the University to be put into a fixed deposit, with interest accrued used to purchase a gold medal to be awarded annually to the top English student. On 10 March 1980, disaster stuck. The Guild House was destroyed by fire. Arson was believed to be the cause of the fire. Liquor and the takings from the fruit machines were also stolen. This time the damage was estimated to be at more than $415,000. Once again, the Society had to look for a new home. After the fire, the Society used the premises of a university house next door until the Guild House could be repaired and re-opened. In the same year, the University of Singapore and Nanyang University merged to form the National University of Singapore. In 1981, the University of Singapore Society became the National University of Singapore Society.


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Before the fire, between 1977 and 1978, the Society had negotiated a 30-year lease for the land surrounding 15 Evans Road to expand its facilities and build a new clubhouse. However, to its disappointment, the Society was unable to get planning approval for the development. This proved to be a blessing in disguise, as the Society got the Kent Ridge site instead. The Society received the go-ahead to build a Guild House at Kent Ridge. At that same general meeting, the Constitution was amended to allow for a maximum of three members to be co-opted to the Management Committee of 16 elected members. Prof Kiang Ai Kim and Raphael Leong Sai Mooi were co-opted the following year. Prof Kiang bolstered everyone’s confidence in the building project for Kent Ridge. It was an ambitious project, and one that grew to a magnitude undreamt of, from an initial budget of $800,000 to $4 million and then to $5.5 million. As he recalls,

The Kent Ridge Guild House was built on a budget of $5.5 million. The Society broke records in fund raising for the project – it raised $1.7 million in three weeks through entrance fees.


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“We had to build big and increase the entrance fees. We increased entrance fees, more and more people came in, then we decided to put in the foundation. Putting in the foundation assured people that we were really serious about building, and more people came in.” In the end, the entire building was funded by incoming membership fees. In December 1984, the Society celebrated the opening of the Kent Ridge Guild House, an event graced by then Republic of Singapore President Devan Nair and then NUS Vice-Chancellor Prof Lim Pin as well as heads of faculties and senior members of the Civil Service. The Society had come of age.

Exterior view of Kent Ridge Guild House.

By the late 1980s, the management committe e wa s c o n c e r n e d w i t h how the leadership could meet the changing needs and expectations of its members. The Strategic Planning Sub-Committee, headed by then Honorary Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair and comprising Colonel (Retired) M S Gill, Michael Fernandez, Major Jon Ong Soon Wah, Zaibun Siraj, Ernest Wong and Richard B H Tan, was tasked with the job of formulating a strategic plan to take the Society forward into the nineties. Together with the management committee, and an external strategic consultant in Coopers and Lybrand, the subcommittee identified the critical issues that needed to be addressed: fostering a credible image of the Society, enhancing the relationship between the Society and the University, maximising the financial, human and physical resources of the Society, and engendering in members a sense of the Society’s mission.


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In 1992, after much soul searching, the Strategic Planning Sub-Committee set out its broad objectives for the future: §

to serve its members by enriching graduate life;

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to commit to the development of the University;

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to serve as a catalyst to enrich the quality of life within the nation;

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to provide a challenging and rewarding environment; and

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to promote an understanding of the global community and work towards a better world�.

As the Society marked its 40th anniversary in 1994, its relationship with the University was also at an all-time high.The Society had strong support from then Vice-Chancellor Prof Lim Pin, who was instrumental in giving the Society the plot of land on which the Kent Ridge Guild House was built. In turn, the Society conferred honorary membership on Prof Lim Pin in 1993. By 1994, then Society President Anwarul Haque had taken over as chairperson of the Strategic Planning Sub-Committee. As the year came to an end, one question that engaged the Sub-Committee was: “What can the Society do by way of community service that is really meaningful?” He said, “Now we have a full belly, roof over our head, reasonable clothes, we can and must start doing more, including contributing to the running of the University. If we are a serious body – and we hold ourselves to be – then, as an institution, we must show our credibility, our seriousness of purpose and our membership strength.” What will the next ten years hold?

Anwarul Hague, President 1994 –1988

What can the Society do by way of community service that is really meaningful?


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The Malaysian Connection T

he Society’s ties with its Malaysian alumni could be traced to the Stamford Clubs which were formed in the 1930s. By the time the Stamford Club in Singapore was formed in 1936, a string of Stamford Clubs had been formed across the Malayan peninsula.

The Singapore and Malaysia alumni games (Above, in the 1930s, and Opposite Page, in the 1990s) were opportunities to forge cross-Straits ties.

In the early years, cricket, tennis and other games were held in each other’s hometowns, whether Singapore, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Taiping or Penang. Groups of graduates planned holidays together and travelled upcountry in car convoys, by train and sometimes, by steamship. The warmth and camaraderie of these reunions often more than made up for the inconvenience and discomfort of the long distance travel these trips often necessitated. Accommodation, too, was made affordable by the renting of hostels outside term time. Food was not a problem at all. The hosts were invariably so hospitable!


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“There are fewer and fewer Malaysian students in NUS now. In my time, 30% of my class were Malaysians and we interacted. Our ties with Malaysia are important, and getting the graduates to play together is a good start.”

There was also a political dimension to the cross-Straits alumni relations, namely in the formation of the Pan-Malayan Council of the Stamford Club in response to the 1947 publication of the Trusted Commission recommendation that local graduate teachers be paid lower salaries than British university graduates. Similarly, the arrival of the Carr-Saunders Commission on tertiary education the same year created a buzz of activity, with graduates working with the other associations to present their cases for the recognition of Raffles College degrees. Today, cross-Straits alumni relations have come full circle, and continues in the annual inter-country games with the Persatuan Alumni Universiti Malaya (PAUM), formerly the Gild Siswazah Universiti Malaysia (GSUM) in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Chandra Mohan K Nair, who was Honorary Secretary from 1982 to 1994 and 2004, recalls initiating a series of graduates games. He saw those games as a vital way of forging links among graduates in the region, and ultimately, to bridge cultural and ideological gaps between the nations. He said, “There are fewer and fewer Malaysian students in NUS now. In my time, 30% of my class were Malaysians and we interacted. Our ties with Malaysia are important, and getting the graduates to play together is a good start.” It is hoped that the camaraderie on the field will open up opportunities for networking that would be good for the graduates and their countries. Adds Chandra, “Sometimes it is easier to do things through non-governmental organisations. With closer relations, the world can become smaller.”


Introduction

Graduates now celebrate the end of their studies in the University not with a convocation but a commencement.

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n the next ten years, economic globalisation and technological innovation were to transform the way we lived and worked. These changes were perhaps best reflected in the change of name for the National University of Singapore’s graduation ceremony – graduates now celebrate the end of their studies in the University not with a convocation but with a commencement. The change in the term represents a departure from the way tertiary education has been traditionally perceived. One used to regard graduation from University as having completed a once-in-a lifetime milestone. The term convocation marks an end to formal learning. It means that having completed one’s formal education, one settles down to a lifetime of devotion to one’s chosen career. In the new economy, lifelong learning is a given, and graduation is not an end in itself, but rather the beginning of a journey of lifelong learning – from basic to higher degrees, from one career switch to another, from the end of one half of a life of achievement to the beginning of a second half of significance.


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The association with the Society was in a sense a lifelong engagement and for the university’s alumni, NUSS became that link to their alma mater. The Society witnessed an exponential growth in membership, reaching almost 12,000 members by 2003, cementing its claim as the largest alumni body in Singapore. These years also marked the physical growth of the Guild Houses. The Guild House facilities at Kent Ridge underwent extensive upgrading and expansion. By the end of 2003, the Society’s Guild Houses had grown from Kent Ridge Guild House and Adam Park Guild House to include a city Guild House, first at Amara Hotel, and then at Orchard. At the end of 2003, the Orchard Guild House made way for even bigger premises at Suntec City Mall. As the Society reaped the benefits of growth and expansion, it also had to grapple with new challenges. One challenge the Society faced was that of leadership renewal. Orderly leadership succession had been a hallmark of the Society and a source of its strength and stability. The demands of service became more onerous even as the Society grew, and the task of leadership renewal in finding new, younger leaders to serve – often at considerable personal sacrifice and amidst other competing demands

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From Left: Adam Park Guild House Bar, The Library at Orchard Guild House, The Bar at Suntec City Guild House, and The Kingfisher at Kent Ridge Guild House.


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on their time – became that much more difficult. The changing demographics of the Society also meant that it was imperative that the leaders keep pace with the changing perceptions and aspirations of a now predominantly younger membership. Within the University too, there were leadership changes. A new Vice-Chancellor, Prof Shih Choon Fong, took over the helm at the University from Prof Lim Pin in 2000. The Society and the University already enjoyed close and mutually supportive relations. NUSS and the University are poised to become even more interlinked when a single alumni body, combining NUSS and all the existing NUS alumni groups, first proposed in 2002, becomes a reality. Vice-Chancellor of NUS Prof Shih Choon Fong (right) with then President of NUSS, Lim Soo Hwee.

At its very heart, the Society remained a university guild, albeit one that provided the material comforts and amenities of a premier country club. It offered its members the best of both worlds – a place for them to relax with family and friends as well as a place where they could network, and build links with alumni and alma mater. It also remained cognisant of its place as a responsive civil society group prepared to offer considered views on public affairs and a respected source for non-partisan intellectual and learned opinion. Nevertheless, it did not forget its privileged position in society and its obligations to the community.

Opposite Page: A place for business associates to network and family and friends to relax.

“It is our tradition of alumnus fellowship, networking and

Clockwise from top left: Orchard Guild House, The Terrace at Suntec City Guild House, the restaurant at Adam Park Guild House and ���������������� The Stamford at Kent Ridge Guild House

identifying with our alma mater through various social, cultural, intellectual and financial activities that gives us our inner strength.” Lim Soo Hwee


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Keeping the passion for 50 years on

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erhaps the most inspiring elements of NUSS are the members who have been and still are continuing to serve on the Management Committee. Tan Siang Chik and Chandra Mohan K Nair are two individuals who have between them, dedicated more than 40 years to the Society, an organisation they hold dear and which they are extremely proud to be a part of. As leaders, they have contributed insights and shaped the Society.

Tan Siang Chik

Chandra Mohan K Nair


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Tan Siang Chik

Tan Siang Chik began serving on the Management Committee in 1982, two years after joining the Society. He is best noted for his outgoing personality and friendly demeanour and is the person credited for helping to upgrade the Society’s early rudimentary system of accounting and internal controls and later supervising the computerisation of these functions. As Chairperson of the Finance sub-committee, he was known not only for his sharp mind for figures but also his no-nonsense stance on matters relating to financial integrity and transparency. Siang Chik’s colourful stretch of service spans 24 years and includes 4 years as President (1994–1998) during which he oversaw the setting up of Orchard Guild House. He remains a valuable resource person on the Management Committee where he generously shares his knowledge and experience with his younger colleagues and members of the staff.

Chandra Mohan K Nair

Chandra Mohan K Nair joined the Society in 1977. Serving as Honorary Secretary for more than a decade from 1982 with only a short break from 1997-2002, Chandra played a critical role in crafting and refining the Society’s Constitution. Cherishing more than 20 years of service to the Society, he has witnessed with pride the positive evolution of NUSS into the progressive institution that it is today – a well-organised, financially and structurally sound, and strong civic society, with a varied pool of dedicated and enthusiastic leaders serving in the Management Committee, Sub-committees and the Secetariat. During this time, NUSS has also developed very strong relations with NUS and contributed significantly in promoting the interests and development of our alma mater. Chandra, who took on the position of President from May 2005, hopes to breath new life into the Society by garnering support not only from members but also other stakeholders to strive for greater ‘people to people’ contact amongst Asean graduate alumni organisations. In the process, the Society aims to assist Singapore in forging closer ties with its neighbours and help build a nation we can all be proud of.

“When you serve with a sense of belonging and urgency, you will face fewer situations where you need to be on the defensive and will thus find your work and duties more pleasant to perform.” Tan Siang Chik

“The pre-requisite is always to have a set of good men and women with hearts and souls filled with passion, courage and far-sightedness to make the difference.” Chandra Mohan K Nair


Head

intellectual and

cultural activities

“One important difference between the Society and other clubs is the activities we organise. It’s not so much the sports or games we have – everyone has them – but the other aspects like our very vibrant study group and the socio-cultural and intellectual events we organise that make us different.” Anwarul Haque

The NUSS Lecture was one such invigorating contribution to raising the level of intellectual discussion on a nation-wide basis. Over the years, the NUSS Lecture has been delivered by luminaries such as BG George Yeo, then Acting Minister for


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Information and the Arts and Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs; Ali Alatas, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Indonesia; and then Prime Minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong, who delivered the 2000 NUSS Millennium Lecture to a rapt audience of more than 1,200 alumni members, diplomats and civil servants. Chaired by Professor Tommy Koh, the lecture, Singapore Beyond 2007, was an apt one for a discourse on the visions and aspirations of Singapore.

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“To meet the challenges of the future, Singapore needs an active citizenry that is also sensible, practical and talented. We need to nurture “a more creative, innovative and enterprising generation. We will require ingenuity and flexibility to exploit the challenges of the future. Whether we can sustain our prosperity for the next 50 years will depend on the quality of our people as much as strong leadership and sound national institutions.� Goh Chok Tong Talks, workshops and forums were organised to provide opportunities for members to meet one another and participate in academic, social and political discussions of local interest. The Society over the years has debated over topics as diverse as technopreneurship, foreign talent, the role of nominated Members of Parliament, creativity, feng shui, belly dancing and Singlish.

The talks and forums organised by the Society, while always providing intellectual food for thought, were not without their lighter moments.


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Left: Prof Kiang Ai Kim greeting Dr Tony Tan. Centre: From left: V V Giri, Chandra Mohan K Nair, �������� Prof Dr ��� ����������������������������������� James N Boss, Martin J Pereira and Donald Wyatt. Right: Writer, Peter Lim, and researcher, Dana Lam of The Heart Is Where It Is.

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A Labour of Love Launch of The Heart Is Where It Is

hampagne was popped at the official launch of The Heart Is Where It Is on 18 August 1994. The book, written by Peter Lim and Dana Lam, chronicles the first 40 years of the Society’s history and was aptly described by then Society President Tan Siang Chik as a “labour of love”. The book was launched by Dr Tony Tan, then Minister of Education. “What sets the NUSS apart from the other societies is its strong ties and its links with NUS. It was with the idea of fostering a close association with the University that prompted the decision in 1981 to allocate to the NUSS a plot of land within the University grounds on which the NUSS could build a club house. The Kent Ridge Guild House is a visible symbol of how the NUSS is an integral part of the University community, supporting the University not only financially through donations by the Society and its members but also intellectually through ideas and suggestions made to the University administration. This close cooperation betweem the NUSS and the University is the distinguishing feature that makes the NUSS different from other professional societies. With its strong links to the NUS, its ambitious plans for development and its energetic leadership, the NUSS will undoubtedly continue to grow in the coming years to become the premier graduate society in Singapore. We hope that The Heart Is Where It Is will be but the first of many books which will chronicle the development, growth and changes of the NUSS in the coming years.” Tony Tan


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Dialogue session with Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Acting Minister for Community Development and Sports and Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs, 2002, on topic: “How can NGOs influence decision-making through feedback?”

The Society over the years has debated over topics as diverse as technopreneurship, foreign talent, the role of nominated MPs, creativity, feng shui, belly dancing and Singlish.

Topics on society, current affairs, lifestyle, finance, technology and health drew ebullient response from members and testify to the popularity of the topics and the Society’s commitment to meeting the needs of its members.


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Basskaran Nair

asskaran Nair, a member of the NUSS since 1970, the same year he graduated with an Arts degree from the then University of Singapore, is a quiet and passionate supporter of the Society and his alma mater. As an undergraduate, he was active in the theatre, taking on roles both on stage as well as backstage. A particularly memorable role was the one of Sorbier in a Sartre doublebill No Exit and Men Without Shadows, produced by senior Ranu Bhattacharya, with set designed by Chris Dally. As a thespian, he left an impression, in more ways than one. He recalls meeting Ranu many years later, and having her exclaim, “I know this face. I’ve made up this face before!”

Basskaran then as “Sorbier”.

He has remained connected to both NUS and the Society, having addressed the graduating class for Arts and Social Sciences in 1997, serving as a member of the University’s External Affairs Advisory Committee on communications, contributing to NUS’ anniversary celebrations, and more recently, being part of NUSS’ 50th Anniversary Celebrations Organising Committee.

“The Society’s strength lies in being responsive to changes and being forward looking,” he says. Such progressive mindsets, he believes, are strengths that will stand the Society in good stead for the future. For him, the friendship forged among freshies and seniors during the undergrad years have continued seamlessly after graduation and into the corporate world. He reckons about three-quarters of the movers and shakers in both the civil service and corporate Singapore were people he knew in the university; the same ones, he adds, “who ragged me when I was a freshman, and others I ragged as a senior!” His pride is in his alma mater is clearly evident. “NUS alumni are the best of breed in every profession in Singapore, from law to education to information technology,” he declares.

Basskaran now.

His own career is no less illustrious. Upon graduation, he headed the Government’s Press Department before doing his MA at the East West Center/University of Hawaii on a Public Service Commission scholarship. He was Senior Vice President at DBS Bank, and in 1997, he became an Equity Partner and Chief Executive of the Singapore/ASEAN office of New York based financial communications firm Gavin Anderson Worldwide. He is currently with CapitaLand, where he manages the cross-border communication initiatives for about six listed companies within the group.


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Before Speakers’ Corner, the Society had the Soap Box. In fact, the Society’s Soap Box at Kent Ridge Guild House was launched in 2000, beating the nation’s Speakers’ Corner at Hong Lim Park by two days. While participants of Speakers’ Corner used the avenue to vent personal grievances, Society members used the Soap Box to wax lyrical on topics as diverse as poetry, ageing and traditional foods. It was a platform where members could share personal experiences and ideas, and also to last the requisite ten minutes to earn a well-deserved prize. The monthly Soap Box Speeches, reborn as The Voice Box in 2002, has provided an avenue for members to voice their creativity and share their thoughts.

Ten minutes of eloquence was all you needed to win a prize on the Soap Box.

Arts and culture has a long tradition in the Society. The Society provided financial support towards the establishment of the Lyric Theatre in 1991, and has remained a faithful supporter of Singapore’s first opera company. In recognition of its work with the Lyric Theatre, the Society was bestowed the National Arts Council’s Arts Supporter Award in 2003.

A platform for intellectual debate: talks and forums organised by the Society.


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Food for the soul: art appreciation talks, performances by the Lyric Theatre, the NUSS Choir and the NUSS Orchestra.

NUSS Receives Arts Supporter Award from NAC On 11 September 2003, NUSS was awarded the National Arts Council’s (NAC) Arts Supporter Award. Lai Kim Seng, President of the Society, represented NUSS in receiving the award from Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts.The award was given to NUSS in recognition of its support for the Singapore Lyric Opera’s (SLO) production of Carmen in 2002.


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The physical expansion

The Kent Ridge Guild House underwent a two-year expansion and upgrading of its facilities in 1993. Carried out in three phases and at a budget of $11 million, the upgrading expanded its facilities with the addition of more function rooms, new sports and recreational facilities such as an additional swimming pool, tennis and squash courts and a fitness centre. It also included a new entrance lobby and reception. In 2000, addition and alteration works to the basement of Kent Ridge Guild House were completed, making for a bigger gym, an expanded karaoke lounge and a new eatery.


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The Orchard Guild House in Cineleisure Building, opened in 1997, was a prestigious and well-located addition to the existing Guild Houses. For the first time, members had access to facilities within the central business district (CBD).

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A view of Kent Ridge Guild House.

When its six-year lease expired, a search was soon underway for more cost-effective, centrally located premises. The possibility of purchasing a permanent site came up when the former Pinetree Country Club at 30 Stevens Road became available. It was a proposal that elicited a lot of interest, with an unprecedented one thousand members turning up for the Annual General Meeting to debate the issue. A flurry of activity went on before it. Right up to the counting of the votes cast, it was not clear which way the vote would swing. In the end, the resolution to tender for the property was defeated by a narrow margin of three votes. The search went on for a City Guild House. Finally, in Suntec City Mall, with its competitive rental, central location close to new developments and the MRT, and access to additional facilities such as a fitness centre, tennis courts and a swimming pool, the Society found an excellent club facility that appealed to the broadest crosssection of the membership.

The colonial style bungalow that houses Adam Park Guild House was the battalion headquarters of the 1st Battalion Cambridgeshire regiment before the Japanese Occupation. It was identified as a historical site by the National Heritage Board in 2002.


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Then President of NUSS, Lim Soo Hwee presenting Vice-Chancellor Prof Lim Pin with a gift of a portrait.

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Prof Lim Pin

n 2000, Prof Lim Pin retired as Vice-Chancellor of the University after 19 years of service, and was succeeded by Prof Shih Choon Fong. Prof Lim, described as “an officer and a gentleman� by past Society President Ernest Wong, would be remembered not only as one who has contributed immensely to his community as a doctor, teacher, professor and administrator, but also as a loyal friend to the Society. It was he who was instrumental in making it possible for the Society to have the land on which to build the Kent Ridge Guild House.


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Left: Dr Chee Phui Hung greeting Prof Lim. Right: Prof Lim toasting the Society.

Of his decision, Prof Lim says, “The decision to let the Society have the land on the university to build its Guild House was one of the milestones of my career as Vice-Chancellor.” He believes the decision has paid off. “Today, we have an excellent range of alumni facilities on campus – one of the few universities in the world able to lay such a claim. We have reason to be proud.” Indeed, many acknowledge that the Society would not have been able to achieve what it has today without Prof Lim’s support. Under his leadership, strong ties have been forged between the University and successive teams of management committees over the years. Prof Lim is also heartened by the growth in the relationship between the Society and its alma mater. He said, “There are many instances of support from the Society towards the University, such as the University Endowment Fund, the support for the University Cultural Centre, and alumni members coaching and sharing their skills and experiences with our students. I think we now have a very close, symbiotic relationship between the Society and the University, and it is a commitment that will get closer.”


Heart

All Things social

Family bonding: Robert Tan and Sooi Lian and their young family are typical of Society members who spend their weekends at the Guild Houses.

When the Society set up home at its very first Guild House at 5 Dalvey Estate in 1964, the amenities offered were basic – a tennis court, a billiards room, a canteen and a bar made up the sum total of its offerings. In spite of the spartan facilities, the bar proved an immediate hit with members in search of beer and company. Today, members are spoilt for choice. They have more facilities and a bigger range of social and recreational activities to choose from. Social activities have also evolved to reflect the increasing sophistication of its audience, the annual Night of the Guild parties being a case in point.


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The Society would continue to be a place where both the young and the old would interact and socialise. A place where they can relax with their families over the weekends. Social programmes offered by the Senior Circle and the Young Chapter cater to everyone in the family, from young to old. The annual NUSS-PAUM games on the sports calendar is a favourite with many. The Senior Circle was formed in 1996 as a channel for its “senior” members to share their knowledge, expertise and experience. Not quite your typical sub-committee, the members of the Senior Circle form a veritable list of who’s who in Singapore, comprising among them Prof Kiang Ai Kim, Prof Louis Hon, Harry Chan, Lim Ho Hup, Paul Abisheganaden, Dr S Kumarapathy, Kirpa Ram Vij and HE S R Nathan, President, Republic of Singapore. That notwithstanding, the guiding principle for the Senior Circle is simple: “self-service”, not “self serving”; members are encouraged to share their experiences with the younger members.

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Members of the Senior Circle meet monthly over a preferred cuppa – whether latte, cappuccino or kopi-o.


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During the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, the Society found itself in the same predicament as other businesses that experienced a slowdown as consumers became more cautious about their spending. Happily for the Society, as a not-for-profit organisation, it was able to weather the lean times. Members had to be urged to help the Society ride out those times by patronising the F&B outlets at the Guild Houses.

Their ages spanned the decades, but when NUSS old-timers and newcomers got together at the first Night of the Guild ball in 2000, age was no barrier to merriment. The event had a record turnout of more than 1,000 members and was such a resounding success that Night of the Guild became an annual event.

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At the other end of the spectrum are the more than 4,000 members aged 35 and below, who form 41% of the Society’s membership. The Young Chapter Sub-Committee was started in 2003 to address the needs and concerns of that segment of the membership to engage and encourage them to participate actively in the Society. Terence Lin, Management Committee member and Young Chapter chairperson (2003 to 2005) envisions the Young Chapter as a platform that will draw younger members together, where they could work towards achieving their dreams for the Society.

“In the Young Chapter, we will have a noble cause to look forward to, look up to and work towards rejuvenating the Society. I see the Young Chapter as the avenue for chanelling the dynamism, energy and vibrancy to inject fresh ideas to help remake the Society. These days, youths work very long hours and may not have the time to meet friends outside of work. So, the Young Chapter is a chance for us to meet a broad spectrum of people we would not ordinarily meet.” Terence Lin

Members value the networking opportunities that the Society provides.


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The children of members engaged in a wide range of activities, from enrichment workshops to parties.

Night of the Guild 2001: It was an evening of networking, entertainment and feasting amidst music, dance, comic acts and of course, good food and wine.

Singapore and Kuala Lumpur take turns to host the NUSS-PAUM games.

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While the Young Chapter is a platform for networking among young graduates through informal activities and forums, it also sees its role as more than a social one. By nurturing active involvement, it is also hoped that the Young Chapter would create a ready talent pool to sustain the renewal of the Society’s leadership. Society President Lai Kim Seng welcomes the fresh perspectives that young people will bring to the Society.

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Second from left: Dr Chia Kim Fee, Vice-President (2001–2005), with Young Chapter members.

“It is important that we garner the support of an enlightened and well-informed younger membership to support us in the pursuit of new dreams, especially dreams that will put us in pace and in tandem with our alma mater’s vision.” Lai Kim Seng The enthusiastic participation by members ensures that the Society’s sports calendars are always full every year. Tournaments include both in-house friendlies as well as external competitions. Cross-Straits competitions continue with the annual NUSSPAUM games, with Singapore and Malaysia taking turns to host the games each year. This trophy, which goes to the winner of the annual NUSS-PAUM games, is a symbol of the longstanding ties between NUSS and its Malaysian counterpart, PAUM.


From Left: Uncle

L

Kam, Uncle Lim, Mahendran and Jackie.

Our Loyal Staff

ee Siang Kam, Lim Teong Huat, Mahendran Ratnasamy and Jackie Goh are the loyal staff who have been with the Society since its early days. These three men and a lady have between them chalked up 80 years of service to the Society. Lee Siang Kam, fondly addressed as Uncle Kam by his co-workers, has worked with NUSS for 21 years. He was billiards marker at students’ hostel King Edward (KE) Hall for 30 years before joining NUSS in 1984. Uncle Kam’s love and passion for billiards is evident. “I’m lucky to work in a job I love. My motto is ‘to do my work well’ and ‘treat all members like friends’,” says this sprightly 80-year-old. Although past the age of retirement, he continues to work at NUSS on a contract basis. In his 50 years as billiards marker, he has introduced the game to many an undergraduate and alumnus. Some of the hostelites in KE Hall that he had taught the game to are now members of NUSS, and he is delighted that they still remember him when they meet him at the Guild House. “They have become friends now, and some will insist on buying me a drink when they see me,” he says. Lim Teong Huat, or Uncle Lim to all, though a relative youngster at 64, when compared to Uncle Kam, is retiring in 2005. Uncle Lim worked in customer service in the airlines industry before he joined the Society as a jackpot cashier 22 years ago. In the past, as it is still today, jackpots generated quite a bit of income for the Society. There are now about 56 machines in total located in the three Guild Houses. Over the years, many have tried but few have got the better of these one-armed bandits. Uncle Lim recalls an instance not too long ago when a member won a considerably large sum of money. Such wins, though, are few and far between, but this has not discouraged members from trying their luck. He thinks there are some people who have contributed substantial amounts of money to the jackpot machines. “But most play for a bit of fun,” he adds, “and there are often more women than men at the jackpot machines, especially during the day.” Ask him what he would miss about working at the NUSS, and he says it is the camaraderie between colleagues who have gone on to become friends and in some instances, like family. Over the years, he has seen staff welfare improve, with, among other things, a dinner and dance for staff every year. A highlight for him was winning the second prize of a trip to Hong Kong at the annual staff dinner and dance five years ago.


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Mahendran Ratnasamy too agrees that human resources at NUSS has become a more professional set-up. When he joined the Society 15 years ago as duty manager, there were about 50 staff; the number is now closer to 200. He has benefited from training programmes introduced for staff. He was promoted to senior duty manager a year ago. Jackie Goh has been with the NUSS for 22 years. She started off tending bar at Adam Park Guild House and stayed there for the next 11 years, but switched to working as an accounts cashier in 1994, the same job she holds today. She recalls the spontaneous celebrations on National Day when members would come to the bar dressed in red and white. “As a bartender, I’ve heard lots of stories,” she says, “though I’m not sure if some of them are true.” It is loyal staff like these that the Society would like to ensure that it retains. As the staff strength grew, the demands of human resources, previously limited to just handling payroll and annual leave, have also changed. A HR Resource Sub-Committee, formed in 2004, has introduced a slew of initiatives to improve service standards and increase staff satisfaction and encourage retention of staff. These include the recruitment of a Human Resources Director, a review of salary and fringe benefits, the introduction of Excellence Service awards for staff and an emphasis on training and development.

N K Hazra: Our Longest Serving GM N K Hazra joined the Society in 1991 as general manager and stayed until he retired in 2003. Under his stewardship, the Society grew in more ways than one. There was the physical growth in facilities, with the Kent Ridge extension in 1994, the setting up of Orchard Guild House in 1997, and the Kent Ridge basement upgrading in 2000. The Society’s membership too grew from 9,000 to 12,000, and the staff strength went from 70 in 1994 to almost 200 by the time of his departure. “It was Anwarul Haque, then President of the Society, who asked me to come and work for the Society,” recounts Hazra. “I asked him: ‘How long?’ And he replied: ‘Three or four years.’ I knew Anwarul from our days in the University, so I took his word and accepted the job. I stayed for the next 12 years, so I may have overstayed!” To Anwarul, Hazra brought stability and professional management to the Society. “I have tremendous respect for his intellect and his abilities, and knew he was just what we were looking for in a general manager. His are big shoes to fill,” he says. Hazra had, by the time of his departure, recruited and put in place a team of capable senior managers who would ensure continuity in the management of the Society’s affairs. A modest man, Hazra is quick to stress that whatever he did for the Society, he did so in the line of duty as part of his job. “Over the years, I have worked with some wonderful leaders, and I will miss that,” he says. “I have enjoyed every moment of it, and remain a proud member of the Society, and will continue to contribute as a member.”


Soul Our Work in the community

The Society’s commitment to better the conditions of others was formalised with the formation of the NUSS Community Sub-Committee in 1995. Its aim is to help the underprivileged and raise awareness among graduates of the need to care for the less fortunate in society. The sub-committee’s first chairperson, Ong Pin Sam, is himself no stranger to community work, being then Vice President of both the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore and the Singapore Sports Council for the Disabled. Every year since then, the Society’s community programmes have included senior citizens and disadvantaged children. In 1998, the Student Mentorship Programme was initiated as a collaborative project between the Society, NUS, the Tanjong Pagar Community Development Council and Students Care Service. This programme was developed amidst concerns about juvenile delinquency and youth crime statistics. Under this community outreach programme, mentees from secondary schools are mentored by NUS undergraduates who act as their “big brothers and sisters”. Through this programme, the Society aims to make a difference to the lives of young people who might be at risk – redirecting them, perhaps averting wrong turns, and restoring their potential. The Society’s beneficence extends also to the NUS undergraduates, through the $1.6 million Student Loan Endowment Fund, initiated in 1989.


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The Student Mentorship Programme is a good example of the Society’s collaborative work with community groups.


The Society hosts a Chinese New Year festive gathering for senior citizens every year. Invited guests from senior citizen homes are treated to a sumptuous lunch and entertainment for the afternoon. The joy and smiles radiated by the old people made the time, effort and financial resources invested into these projects all the more worthwhile. Camp for students at Clementi Students Care Service.

Disadvantaged children are treated to annual parties. More importantly, Society members and their children give generously of their time in addition to contributing gifts.


An Associate Member’s Perspective

N

Setyadi Ongkowidjaja

USS offers associate memberships to alumni of other universities. Though associate membership does not come with the right to vote, this has in no way affected the level of participation and commitment on the part of associate members. Setyadi Ongkowidjaja, a British-trained architect in private practice, is one associate member whose associate member status has not dampened his enthusiasm in serving the Society. He is married to an NUS graduate, Rachel, also an architect, with whom he has four children. Interestingly, it is he, a non-NUS alumni, who is the more active partner in Society matters. Setyadi has been involved in various NUSS Sub-Committees, such as the Steering SubCommittee, House Sub-Committee, Product & Facilities Task Force, and Publications Sub-Committee. He is a regular contributor to The Graduate, and was co-editor of the February 2004 edition of Commentary entitled Retrospective 1. As an architect, he contributed recommendations on the space planning for the design of the Suntec Guild House. In 1999, his talk on “Inspiration in Design” at NUSS drew a crowd of over 200 people. He has participated regularly in the Soap Box sessions at the former Orchard Guild House. As a resource person to the Culture Sub-Committee, he brought 20 NUSS members on a cultural visit to Jogyakarta and Solo in Indonesia. In expressing his appreciation at being offered the opportunity to join NUSS, Setyadi remarks, “This is the most excellent Society, in fact, the best I have ever been in and although I am not given the opportunity to vote in this Society, the fact that I am among you and have been able to contribute... makes me very happy.”

Setyadi and Rachel with their young family, from left, Alvar, Dewi, Paul and Nadia.

“The activities organised by the NUSS are also very interesting… there are many clubs in Singapore but to date, not many of them have the kind of intellectual programmes the NUSS has,” he adds.


Head, Hands, Heart and Soul

The NUS and NUSS

As the Society evolved over the years, it has always kept firmly in sight its sense of mission as a premier graduate body, the inextricable ties to its alma mater and its role in the wider NUS community. This nexus is reflected in its significant contributions to the University both in financial terms as well as other joint collaborative partnerships.

“The Society’s guiding principle has been to examine our relevance and ask how we can contribute to the eminence of NUS.” Lim Soo Hwee (President 1998-2001) NUSS’ gift to the Universities Endowment Fund in appreciation to the University for granting the land on which Kent Ridge Guild House was built.

In 1989, the Society pledged $1.6 million to the Universities Endowment Fund primarily to set up a students’ loan fund to assist undergraduates in need of funding. This is to express the Society’s appreciation and gratitude to NUS for its generosity in granting a piece of land for the Kent Ridge Guild House which provided the impetus for strong membership growth spanning two decades from 1984 onwards.


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Dr Tony Tan presents a commemorative book, The Heart Is Where It Is... The NUSS Story to NUSS’ first appointed visiting professor at NUS, Professor Artur Ekert while then NUSS President, Clarence Lim Soo Hwee looks on.

This was followed in 1995 by a further pledge of $1.5 million to endow a NUSS Professorship that would be rotated among the various disciplines reflecting the different faculties the Society’s members graduate from. This contribution was more than just symbolic as it embodied the interdependence between the Society and the University. The NUSS Professorship has enabled several eminent professors from leading universities such as Oxford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to come to Singapore to share their knowledge with the NUS community. In the areas of performing arts and community service, the Society has also lent its support by donating a Steinway grand piano to the University Cultural Centre and championing the Student Mentorship Programme, now in its seventh year, with annual financial contributions.

The NUSS Professorship is meant for the various disciplines in the University.


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Official launch of NUS Enterprise Centre in Silicon Valley and signing of MOU between NUS and NUSS. From left: NUS President Prof Shih Choon Fong, then Minister of State in Charge of Entrepreneurship Raymond Lim, NUSS President Lai Kim Seng and NUS Enterprise Centre CEO Prof Jacob Phang.

More recently, when the University announced plans to set up a NUS Enterprise Center in Silicon Valley, USA to assist its alumni venturing into the US markets, NUSS again came forward with a donation of US$100,000 (approximately S$190,000 then) to fund initial start-up costs. “NUSS is proud to be supporting our alma mater in establishing its first overseas enterprise centre in the United States. This facility will enable NUSS members and NUS alumni to take full advantage of a cost-effective fast track to the markets in USA,” says NUSS President Lai Kim Seng. The NUS Enterprise in Silicon Valley.

This joint venture between the University and the Society was the first of its kind in Singapore. In line with the University’s aspiration of becoming a leading global knowledge enterprise, the Centre offers a comprehensive range of business services – from short-term low cost office facility to the hosting of networking events. More importantly, the start-ups enjoy access to a panel of advisors that comprises successful and established entrepreneurs from USA and Singapore. These contacts are extremely valuable as they act as mentors and play a major role in opening doors to potential investors, business partners and customers from both countries.


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In May 2000, Professor Shih Choon Fong succeeded Professor Lim Pin as Vice-Chancellor. The passing of the baton at the University encapsulated both continuity and change. In Prof Shih, the Society finds the same commitment towards deepening the bond between the university and the alumni. Believing that university education prepares students for lifelong learning and that a university’s greatness springs from its talent and passion from within, he recognises that the alumni is integral to the University achieving excellence and, therefore should stay close to the community after graduation. As he points out, “The alumni are our people out there in society. They contribute their experiences and perspectives, add insights and help in leading the way to creative solutions.” Under Prof Shih’s leadership, the university also introduced the concept of commencement when a student graduates. This conceptualisation set in motion a refreshing approach that sees a convocation ceremony not as a farewell but as a new beginning that embraces fresh graduates into the fold of the alumni family instead. This represents in essence a paradigm shift in the way the university relates to its alumni. Responding positively to this new perspective, the Society began hosting annual commencement night dinners at the Kent Ridge Guild House for

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Prof Lim Pin: “We have reason to be proud of being one of the few universities in the world to have such an excellent range of alumni facilities on campus.”

NUS Vice-Chancellor Prof Shih Choon Fong recognises the integral role that the University’s alumni play in its pursuit of excellence.


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Commencement Nights: First steps across the university thresholds and into the world beyond...This inaugural effort saw 64 graduands joining NUSS, recognising its excellent opportunity for networking among the Society with its 12,000-strong membership, among whom are prominent alumni who are able role models and mentors.

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all new graduates. The concept of the dinner – the first was held in 2000 – has culminated in a well-received function by new graduates. Today, it has been re-named the New Alumni Dinner Party and has become a part of NUSS’ time-honoured tradition as well. Next on the horizon is an exciting new development that all NUS alumni can look forward to – a 24-hour operational university village that will be a focal point for students, faculty staff and graduates to meet socially and in the process, develop abiding ties with the alma mater. The new Alumni Complex project will unveil a unique network of cafes, restaurants and watering holes within the campus. A joint development with NUS, the $45 million Alumni Complex stands as another exciting project for the Society. “The Alumni House and NUSS with its Guild House at Kent Ridge can be a winning combination to bring more alumni back to the campus,” says NUS President Prof Shih Choon Fong at the NUS Commencement Dinner on 15 September 2002. As the largest organised alumni body and stakeholder, NUSS will work closely with NUS towards not just a physical transformation but also creating opportunities for networking, continuing education and building a stronger sense of emotional bonding with our alma mater.


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For NUSS, the project will also complement our ever-growing partnership with NUS. Furthermore, the new Alumni Complex will symbolise a whole new mindset. This will be the first time that an alumni group has been tasked to drive a project of such magnitude, and at the same time, given the extraordinary chance to garner support to bring all the alumni groups under a single alumni body in a leadership role. In an increasingly competitive and fast changing tertiary education landscape in Singapore, strong alumni support would be one of the hallmarks of a great university. Through the new Alumni Complex, the Society is set to play a strategic role in supporting NUS to create a unique Kent Ridge experience for all its students who in turn will foster lifelong ties with their alma mater and a keener desire to contribute to its quest for excellence.

Artist’s impression of the new Alumni Complex.


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EXCO & Management Committee Members Through The Years* 1954 President Kenneth M Byrne • Vice-President Tay Teck Eng • Hon. Secretary Toh Chin Chye • Hon. Treasurer Goh Keng Swee 1956 President Lim Kim San • Vice-President Dr V Thambipillay • Hon. Secretary Hsu Tse-Kwang • Hon. Treasurer Lim Ho Hup 1957 President Dr V Thambipillay • Vice-President Hon Yong Sen • Hon. Secretary Lim Ho Hup • Hon. Treasurer Chan Kee Kok 1960 President Paul Abishegenadan • Vice-President Harry Chan Keng Howe • Hon. Secretary Dennis Khoo Kah Lock • Hon. Treasurer Chan Kee Kok 1961 President Dr Oorjitham • Vice-President Abdullah Majid • Hon. Secretary Donald Wyatt • Hon. Treasurer Chan Kee Kok 1965 President Prof Kiang Ai Kim • Vice-President Lee Boon Siang • Hon. Secretary Sinnathamby Rajendran • Hon. Treasurer Low Siew Joon 1969 President G. Abisheganadan • Vice-President Sinnathamby Rajendran • Hon. Secretary Mabel Tai • Hon.Treasurer Kiang Ai Kim 1970 President Sinnathamby Rajendran • Vice-President Kumar Lal • Hon. Secretary Mabel Tai • Hon. Treasurer Prof Kiang Ai Kim 1971 President Ernest Wong Thian Yow • Vice-President Sinnathamby Rajendran • Hon. Secretary Gan Hiang Chye • Hon. Treasurer Anwarul Haque 1972 President Ernest Wong Thian Yow • VicePresident Sinnathamby Rajendran • Hon. Secretary Ventakagiri Mudeliar • Hon. Treasurer Anwarul Haque 1973 President Prof Maurice Baker • Vice-President Gopinath Pillai • Hon. Secretary Ventakagiri Mudeliar • Hon.Treasurer Satpal Khattar 1974 President Prof Maurice Baker • Vice-President Dr Philip Chen • Hon. Secretary Ventakagiri Mudeliar • Hon. Treasurer Han Tsi Fung 1975 President Dr Philip Chen • Vice-President Sinnathamby Rajendran • Hon. Secretary Ventakagiri Mudeliar • Hon. Treasurer Darshan Singh 1976 President Dr Philip Chen • Vice-President Ventakagiri Mudeliar • Hon. Secretary Han Tsi Fung • George Abraham Hon. Treasurer 1977 President Gopinath Pillai • Vice-President Ventakagiri Mudeliar • Hon. Secretary Han Tsi Fung • Hon. Treasurer Mrs Pauline Baratham 1978 President Gopinath Pillai • Vice-President Ventakagiri Mudeliar • Hon. Secretary Han Tsi Fung • Hon. Treasurer Alan Thambiayah 1979 President Gopinath Pillai • Vice-President Sinnathamby Rajendran • Hon. Secretary Han Tsi Fung • Hon. Treasurer Stephen Wong Fook Heng 1980 Kumar Lal President • Han Tsi Fung Vice-President • Dr Seow Onn Choong Hon. Secretary • George Abraham Hon. Treasurer 1981 Kumar Lal President • Han Tsi Fung Vice-President • Dr Seow Onn Choong Hon. Secretary • George Abraham Hon. Treasurer 1982 President Ernest Wong Thian Yow • Vice-President Raphael Leong Sai Mooi • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Mrs Winnie Cecilia Cheah 1983 President Ernest Wong Thian Yow • Vice-President Raphael Leong Sai Mooi • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Mrs Winnie Cecilia Cheah 1984 President Ernest Wong Thian Yow • Vice-President Gopinath Pillai • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Tan Siang Chik • Management Committee Members Rajaiya Ganapathy, Anwarul Haque, Kumar Lal, Dr Reginald Lee Hong Kee, Rapheal Leong Sai Mooi, Suresh Menon, Darshan Singh, Harjit Singh Sidhu, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Dr Peter Tay Seng Hui, Donald Wyatt 1985 President Dr Reginald Lee Hong Kee • Vice-President Anwarul Haque • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Harjit Singh Sidhu • Management Committee Members Rajaiya Ganapathy, Goh Aik Chew, Raphael Leong Sai Mooi, Dr Lim Loon Haw, Peter Lye Ann Peng, Suresh Menon, Darshan Singh, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Tan Siang Chik, Ernest Wong Thian Yow, Sandy Yap Meng Giap 1986 President Dr Reginald Lee Hong Kee • Vice-President Anwarul Haque • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Harjit Singh Sidhu • Management Committee Members Roman Fuan Lok Gill, Rajaiyah Ganapathy, Dr Lim Loon Haw, Peter Lye Ann Peng, Suresh Menon, Kenneth Sim, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Tan Bock Huat, Ernest Wong Thian Yow, Sandy Yap Meng Giap 1987 President Dr Reginald Lee Hong Kee • Vice-President Anwarul Haque • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Tan Siang Chik • Management Committee Members Michael Fernandez, Rajaiyah Ganapathy, Dr Lim Loon Haw, Peter Lye Ann Peng, Kenneth Sim, Amarjit Singh, Zaibun Siraj, Tan Bock Huat, Ernest Wong Thian Yow, Sandy Yap Meng Giap 1988 President Anwarul Haque • Vice-President Tan Siang Chik • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Kenneth Sim • Management Committee Members Ang Peng Eng, Sharifuddin Burhan, Chan Kim Fook, Michael Fernandez, Col (Ret) M S Gill, Dr Reginald Lee Hong Kee, Peter Lye Ann Peng, Dr Lim Loon Haw, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Dr Tay Boon Keng, Sandy Yap Meng Giap 1989 President Anwarul Haque • Vice-President Tan Siang Chik • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Sharifuddin Burhan • Management Committee Members Ang Peng Eng, Chan Kim Fook, Chen Kang Ning, M R Doraisamy, Michael Fernandez, Col (Ret) M S Gill, Dr Reginald Lee Hong Kee, Leow Siak Fah,

* Information is based on the Society’s existing archive collection.


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Kenneth Sim, Khushwant Singh, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Dr Tay Boon Keng 1990 President Anwarul Haque • Vice-President Tan Siang Chik • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Ang Peng Eng • Management Committee Members Chan Kim Fook, Chen Kang Ning, Michael Fernandez, Col (Ret) M S Gill, Leow Siak Fah, Dr Lim Loon Haw, Maj Jon Ong Soon Wah, Martin Pereira, Kenneth Sim, Ms Zaibun Siraj 1991 President Anwarul Haque • Vice-President Tan Siang Chik • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Ang Peng Eng • Management Committee Members Chan Kim Fook, Ee Wee Kiat Sunny, Michael Fernandez, Col (Ret) M S Gill, Leow Siak Fah, Lim Kah Lock, Dr Lim Loon Haw, Maj Jon Ong Soon Wah, Martin Periera, Manminder Singh, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Ernest Wong Thian Yow 1992 President Anwarul Haque • Vice-President Tan Siang Chik • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Lim Soo Hwee • Management Committee Members Ang Peng Eng, Chan Kim Fook, Cheang Kok Kheong, Ee Wee Kiat Sunny, Michael Fernandez, Col (Ret) M S Gill, Dr Sanjay Kuttan, Leow Siak Fah, Lim Kah Lock, Maj Jon Ong Soon Wah, Martin Pereira, Manminder Singh, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Ernest Wong Thian Yow, Willy Wong 1993 President Anwarul Haque • Vice-President Tan Siang Chik • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Lim Soo Hwee • Management Committee Members Ang Peng Eng, Chan Kim Fook, Cheang Kok Kheong, Ee Wee Kiat Sunny, Michael Fernandez, Dr Sanjay Kuttan, Leow Siak Fah, Maj Jon Ong Soon Wah, Martin Pereira, Manminder Singh, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Ernest Wong Thian Yow, Willy Wong 1994 President Tan Siang Chik • Vice-President Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Secretary Lim Soo Hwee • Hon. Treasurer Lim Kah Lock • Management Committee Members Dr Cheah Kim Fee, Cheang Kok Kheong, Ee Wee Kiat Sunny, Michael Fernandez, Anwarul Haque, Dr Sanjay Kuttan, Leow Siak Fah, Martin Pereira, Manminder Singh, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Julian Wong, Willy Wong 1995 President Tan Siang Chik • Vice-President Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Secretary Lim Soo Hwee • Hon. Treasurer Lim Kah Lock • Management Committee Members Dr Cheah Kim Fee, Cheang Kok Kheong, Ee Wee Kiat Sunny, Michael Fernandez, Anwarul Haque, Dr Sanjay Kuttan, Leow Siak Fah, Martin Pereira, Manminder Singh, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Julian Wong, Willy Wong 1996 President Tan Siang Chik • Vice-President Lim Soo Hwee • Hon. Secretary Ms Zaibun Siraj • Hon. Treasurer Lai Kim Seng • Management Committee Members Dr Cheah Kim Fee, Ee Wee Kiat Sunny, Michael Fernandez, Anwarul Haque, Leow Siak Fah, Lim Kah Lok, Loh Teck Seng, Ong Pin Sam, Ernest K B Tan, Teo Chin Tuan, Julian Wong, Willy Wong 1997 President Tan Siang Chik • Vice-President Lim Soo Hwee • Hon. Secretary Ms Zaibun Siraj • Hon. Treasurer Lai Kim Seng • Management Committee Members Dr Cheah Kim Fee, Ee Wee Kiat Sunny, Michael Fernandez, Anwarul Haque, Leow Siak Fah, Lim Kah Lok, Loh Teck Seng, Ong Pin Sam, Ernest K B Tan, Teo Chin Tuan, Julian Wong, Willy Wong 1998 President Lim Soo Hwee • Vice-President Lai Kim Seng • Hon. Secretary Ms Zaibun Siraj • Hon. Treasurer Ernest K B Tan • Management Committee Members Dr Cheah Kim Fee, Chua Teck Huat, Ee Wee Kiat Sunny, Anwarul Haque, Leow Siak Fah, Lim Kah Lok, Dr J M Nathan, Ong Pin Sam, Dr Francis Pavri, Sean Kuan Thye, Tan Siang Chik, Teo Chin Tuan 1999 President Lim Soo Hwee • Vice-President Lai Kim Seng • Hon. Secretary Ee Wee Kiat Sunny • Hon. Treasurer Dr Cheah Kim Fee • Management Committee Members, Chua Teck Huat, Anwarul Haque, Lee Liat Yeang, Lim Kah Lok, Dr J M Nathan, Ong Pin Sam, Dr Francis Pavri, Siva S Retnam, Ms Zaibun Siraj, Tan Siang Chik, Willy Wong 2000 President Lim Soo Hwee • Vice-President Lai Kim Seng • Hon. Secretary Ee Wee Kiat Sunny, • Hon. Treasurer Dr Cheah Kim Fee • Management Committee Members, Chua Teck Huat, Ee Wee Kiat Sunny, Anwarul Haque, David Ho, Lee Liat Yeang, Prof Loh Hong Sai, Dr J M Nathan, Ong Pin Sam, Dr Francis Pavri, Siva S Retnam, Edward D’ Silva, Tan Siang Chik 2001 President Lai Kim Seng • Vice-President Dr Cheah Kim Fee • Hon. Secretary Willy Wong, • Hon. Treasurer Dr Francis Pavri • Management Committee Members, Chua Teck Huat, Anwarul Haque, Ho Wing Yin, David Ho, Lee Liat Yeang, Lim Soo Hwee, Prof Loh Hong Sai, Dr J M Nathan, Ong Pin Sam, Siva S Retnam, Edward D’ Silva, Tan Siang Chik, Wong Peng Meng 2002 President Lai Kim Seng • Vice-President Dr Cheah Kim Fee • Hon. Secretary Willy Wong • Hon. Treasurer Monica Chung Poh Yoke • Management Committee Members, Dr James N Boss, Chong Hoong Sang, Ho Wing Yin, Prof Loh Hong Sai, Chandra Mohan K Nair, Ong Pin Sam, B Rengarajoo, Siva S Retnam, Edward D’ Silva, Wong Peng Meng, Yip Kum Fei 2003 President Lai Kim Seng • Vice-President Dr Cheah Kim Fee • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Wong Peng Meng • Management Committee Members, Dr James N Boss, Chong Hoong Sang, Monica Chung Poh Yoke, David Ho, Terence Lin, Ong Pin Sam, B Rengarajoo, Siva S Retnam, Edward D’ Silva, Johnny Tan Khoon Hui, Yip Kum Fei 2004 President Lai Kim Seng • Vice-President Dr Cheah Kim Fee • Hon. Secretary Chandra Mohan K Nair • Hon. Treasurer Wong Peng Meng • Management Committee Members, Vincent Rasa Benedict, Monica Chung Poh Yoke, David Ho, Wilfred Kwok Chin Chye, Terence Lin, Neo Chia Reei, Ong Pin Sam, Siva S Retnam, Johnny Tan Khoon Hui, Tan Siang Chik, Edward S Tay, Yip Kum Fei

* Information is based on the Society’s existing archive collection.


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Introduction

The Society will scale new heights...

T

he year 2004 marked a significant milestone in the Society’s history as NUSS turned 50! With half a century behind us, the Society has every reason to celebrate its achievements of the past.

Previous Page and Above: Society past presidents and the 2004/05 management committee gather before the 50th anniversary cake, which had five candles, each one representing a decade.

As we look forward to the future, towards creating and realising new aspirations from what has been built before, one wonders how many of the pioneering group of 44 members could have imagined the well-recognised graduate body it is today. In the Society’s formative years, the pioneers had to persuade members to play the jackpot machines to raise enough money to pay its two staff. Today, NUSS is much more than an institution – it is a thriving and financially independent organisation of 12,000 members with a staff strength of almost 200.


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In the earlier years, the Society did not even have a place to call its own. Even after it was granted one, first at Dalvey Estate and then at 15 Evans Road, it continued to grapple with the constraints of a lack of space, money and administrative support. There were many anxious moments, not least of which was the fire in 1980 that completely destroyed the Evans Road Guild House and rendered the Society bereft of a home yet again. They say every cloud has a silver lining, and difficult though it was then to see what the silver lining could possibly be in that disaster, the loss of Evans Road was to lead eventually to a plot of land on Kent Ridge. The Kent Ridge Guild House, or fondly referred to by some as KRGH, took the Society to the next level. The challenges of the 1980s and 1990s were manifold, such as those of finding and building new facilities to cope with a growing membership; expanding the range of sporting and recreational activities; widening the scope of engagement in the intellectual, cultural, and arts arena with a bigger repertoire of drama and opera, talks, forums; and spearheading new initiatives in community service. By the time of its golden jubilee celebrations, NUSS had, besides Kent Ridge Guild House, Adam Park Guild House and the recently completed Suntec City Guild House in 2004. The journey the Society has made to get to where it is today has indeed been a triumph of the heart and will against huge odds. It is also a timely reminder that NUSS’ continued well-being depends very much on the present and future generations – their passion and readiness to champion the Society’s mission in our pursuit of all things excellent for the body, mind and soul.

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Suntec City Guild House, 2004.

True Passion... NUSS Fifty Years And On: In tribute to our founding leaders and members whose selfless service to the Society has made us what we are today.


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A cheque for $75,000, raised from the charity premiere of The Merry Widow Operetta, was presented to HE S R Nathan, ����������� President, Republic of Singapore��������� for the President’s Challenge charity.

“As we remember all the things past that we are thankful for, and as we salute our founding pioneers, we also look to a future which holds much promise for the Society. We are confident that the Society will continue to scale new heights as long as we hold dear the best of our traditions that bind us together as a community driven to excel in its endeavours – values such as pride in our common heritage, sense of destiny, and a desire to serve from the heart. It was our early leaders’ acute sense of passion that saw us through many ups and downs, and it was, and will be, passion that will sustain us.” Lai Kim Seng


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Preparations for the celebrations began in earnest in mid 2002 after HE S R Nathan, President, Republic of Singapore, graciously accepted the Society’s invitation to be the Patron for the 50th Anniversary celebrations. The Steering Committee, tasked to drive the celebrations, chose the theme True Passion… NUSS Fifty Years On as a fitting tribute to our founding leaders and countless members for their selfless service and collective contributions to the Society. The pages that follow capture in pictures and words the mood, spirit and camaraderie shared amongst members, their families, many well-wishers as well as friends who have participated in the many events held to commemorate our 50 years of achievement. The year-long celebrations comprised a wide range of events – intellectual, nostalgic, community service through fund raising, social, as well as those promoting the interests of members.

Honorary Secretary, Chandra Mohan K Nair with HE S R Nathan, ����������� President, Republic of Singapore.


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Creating New grounds...... Official opening of NUSS Guild House at Suntec City 6 March 2004 The relocation of the City Guild House from Cineleisure Building to Suntec City resulted in an updated City Guild House concept and a flagship property for the Society in the city. On 6 March 2004, then Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong declared the Suntec City Guild House officially open. A VIP signs the guest register: then Prime Minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong.

PM Goh Chok Tong obliging autograph seekers.

PM Goh, in his speech, cited the long traditions and rich histories that great universities around the world possess, and the pull such values and traditions exert. “When I look back at my university days, what stick in my mind are experiences and the human touch... the little gestures and the personal human touch are what bond a person to his alma mater. Bonding is about memories, people, friendship and places.You develop a sense of belonging through the friends you make, the lecturers who shape your mind, and the incidents which change your life. Instinctively, you become connected to the generations who came before,” he said. Stressing that a university’s reputation rests more on its alumni than its current students, he advocated that the alumni take an active interest in the University’s performance while encouraging the Society to engage its alumni. His message underpinned the importance of the relationship between a vibrant alumni community and the University. PM Goh added, “A strong and vibrant alumni community is an invaluable asset, especially at a time when NUS is working towards its vision of becoming a global knowledge enterprise. NUS alumni are based not only in Singapore, but also in many countries overseas. Twenty percent of each graduating cohort or about 1,200 students per year are foreign talent. After they return to their countries, they become


part of the international network of influential friends which NUS can tap into to become a truly global university.”

“I hope that the NUSS’s new City Guild House, strategically located at Suntec City, will develop a ‘buzz’ and become a beehive where alumni gather,

Mrs Goh Chok Tong with Monica Chung, Chairperson, NUSS Finance Sub-Committee and Wong Ah Long, then CEO of Suntec City Development and NUSS member. Left:

From left: Lim Ho Hup, Prof Maurice Baker, G Abishegenadan, Lai Kim Seng, Prof Kiang Ai Kim, Ernest Wong, Gopinath Pillai. Right:

socialise and bond. A vibrant alumni community will help NUS achieve its aspirations as well as contribute to the buzz in Singapore.” Goh Chok Tong (then Prime Minister of Singapore) The official opening of the NUSS Guild House at Suntec City also marked a new milestone for the Society as it welcomed PM Goh as an Honorary Member, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to nation-building. He is the first NUS alumnus outside the university community to be conferred an honorary membership of the Society and the first public figure to be so honoured by the Society. “We are extremely delighted that PM Goh has accepted our invitation to be an honorary member of NUSS. We welcome him warmly into our midst as a very distinguished alumnus who, as Prime Minister, has demonstrated astute and exemplary political leadership and made significant contributions to Singapore,” said Lai Kim Seng.

PM Goh Chok Tong receives his honorary membership card from NUSS President Lai Kim Seng.


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Then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Mrs Goh Chok Tong with the NUSS Management Committee 2003/2004.

Johnny Tan, Chairperson of City Guild House Project Committee.

It was a fast track project but we never lost track!

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The 17,000 sq ft club, built at a cost of $5 million, has been described as excitingly different, with its contemporary design a departure from the more traditionally functional club houses at Kent Ridge and Adam Park. The more trendy direction the new Guild House has taken was no accident, but a conscious bid on the part of the Society to attract younger members into its fold. “There is a significant number of graduates working in the Suntec City complex. Some are already our members, but we hope to attract others,” says NUSS President Lai Kim Seng. The Society’s members appear to have given their stamp of approval to the new look as well, judging from the overwhelmingly positive things they say about the new Guild House, such as its trendiness and sense of space. Johnny Tan, who has been a member of the NUSS for more than 20 years, was the Chairperson of City Guild House Project Committee. He says, “Undertaking the planning, design and physical move of the Orchard Guild House to Suntec City was a significant achievement – the project was completed on time and within the approved budget. It was a very fast track project but we never lost track! Excellent team work enabled us to meet all our deadlines. Personally, it gave me great satisfaction to see the growth of some of our secretariat staff through this project.” The Suntec City Guild House includes a bistro, a bar lounge, an outdoor terrace offering al fresco dining, a karaoke lounge, a main hall, private rooms, a jackpot room, a playroom for children with LAN gaming and an iPortal room for reading and Internet access, function rooms, tennis courts and access to a swimming pool as well as Planet Fitness facilities located two floors above the Guild House.


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Happiness Is Chorus:

Happiness is (Happiness is) Happiness is (Happiness is) Happiness is (Happiness is) NUSS Suntec Guild House That’s what happiness is

1.

NUSS has a brand new home Here at Suntec there is space to roam Members gather with their lovely wives And the children come in fours and fives

2.

At the lobby we are met with a smile And the service goes a long long mile Form the clubhouse there’s a splendid view Of the seafront only seen by few

Chorus

3.

At the bistro where we wine and dine Come to the bar where the ambience’s fine There is music karaoke too It’s the clubhouse eveyone goes to

4.

Come to Suntec we will welcome you NUSS is so proud to do Its tradition seen in every way Congratulations on this special day

Chorus Sung by the NUSS Choir at the Official Opening of Suntec City Guild House. Music: “Christmas Is” Lyrics: Thomas Sim

The planning, design and physical move of the City Guild House was completed within a record time of four months and well below the budget by a million dollars.


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This event raised $150,000 towards the new Alumni Complex.

One for the album before tee-off. From left: Chairperson of the Organising Committee Kwek Chok Meng, Guest-of-Honour then Acting Minister for Education Tharman Shanmugaratnam, NUSS President Lai Kim Seng and NUS President Prof Shih Choon Fong.


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Championing a good cause...... Golf Fund-Raising Tournament 16 January 2004 Avid golfers teed off at 7:15am on 16 January, launching the first of the Society’s lineup of events celebrating its golden jubilee. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, then Acting Minister for Education joined more than 200 golfers on the Tanjong Course at the Sentosa Golf Club for a day on the green.

“The past 50 years of your history have been impressive. The Society has capitalised on the prodigious talent and resources of its members to contribute significantly to the university and the community at large.” Tharman Shanmugaratnam The camaraderie of the participants extended well beyond the golf course to the celebratory dinner and entertainment in the evening, where prizes were presented to the winners in the men’s and ladies’ divisions and novelty events. Indeed, the event was a testament to how the game has grown from a fringe sport to one of significance among a growing number of the Society's membership, with more than 1,000 members playing golf at least once a month and competing in the monthly medal competitions.

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Championing a good cause...... The Merry Widow Operetta 2 – 4 September 2004 Beautiful melodies, witty repartee, can-can dancing, elegant waltzes, and a top notch cast – Franz Lehar’s popular operetta, The Merry Widow, was proudly staged, in collaboration with the Singapore Lyric Opera, as part of the Society’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The glittering production, an apt choice in the spirit of merrymaking, was graced by HE S R Nathan, President, Republic of Singapore as Guest of Honour at its charity premiere. It raised S$75,000 in support of the President’s Challenge charity.

Beautiful melodies, witty repartee, can-can dancing, elegant waltzes, and a top notch cast.

HE S R Nathan, ����������� President, Republic of Singapore, and his young fans.

The intoxicating story tells of the dashing Count Danilo torn between his love for the beautiful widow Hanna Glawari, and his duty to the country. The potent brew of money, love and intrigue within the setting of the fictitious Balkan state of Pontevedro and romantic Paris proved a winning formula. The popular score of sugarsweet melodies and its international cast wowed audiences.


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A standing ovation from the VIPs for a spectacular performance. From left: Old friends Harry Chan, Ernest Wong, and Prof Edwin Thumboo. NUSS Secretariat at the souvenir booth.These staff members ensure that all things run smoothly behind the scenes at all NUSS events.


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Leading the warm-up before the walkathon are, from left, Guest-of-Honour Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Wong Peng Meng, Chairperson, Organising Committee, and NUSS President Lai Kim Seng.

Togetherness for fun...... NUSS Day and Walkathon 28 November 2004 NUSS Day saw a turnout of more than 1,000 members and their families at a family fun carnival and a night party at Kent Ridge Guild House. Guest-of-Honour Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Ministerin-Charge of Muslim Affairs, sportingly donned the NUSS T-shirt and joined the crowd in a fun workout led by Planet Fitness. After the early morning workout, members and their families participated in a competitive run and leisure walk, complete with a Heritage Trail where members could spot landmarks on the campus. A carnival featuring clowns, stilt walkers, free popcorn, candy floss, games and food awaited all the participants. After sunset, the night party swung into full gear, with local funnyman Kumar and his dancers providing the entertainment.


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Sun, sea, good food, and turtle watching.

Society and families...... NUSS Driveaway to Terengganu 18 – 20 June 2004 The prospect of sun, sea, good food and turtle watching awaited more than 200 Society members, who set off in 50 cars at the crack of dawn on 18 June for a three-day drive up to Awana Kijal Golf, Beach and Spa Resort in Terengganu. Highlights of the trip included a visit to the turtle sanctuary in Cherating, teeing off at the resort’s golf links overlooking the stunning South China Sea, and a splash at the Sungei Padang Waterfall. On the way to Terengganu, the participants took part in a treasure hunt, looking for clues like billboards and local attractions. In Cherating, the children watched a monkey plucking coconuts from a tree, and caught a top-spinning demonstration at a Malay village. The rally has grown in popularity, with participants more than doubled from the previous year, and looks set to become a yearly family affair.


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Celebrating the ties that bind...... Mid-Year Swing: Back to the ’50s 26 June 2004 Samsui women and Mar ilyn Monroe par tied side-by-side at the Society’s Back To The ’50s theme party at Kent Ridge Guild House. History came to life through food, games, entertainment and of course, the costumes – from elaborate oriental costumes to retro numbers, members gamely dressed up in the spirit of the ’50s. An organising committee member was even spotted in a trishaw rider’s gear, complete with white singlet, straw hat, wooden clogs and a towel round the neck! It was an evening high on nostalgia – with music from the Beatles and Elvis Presley, and even a Teresa Teng lookalike belting out old familiar favourites. The children were introduced to traditional games like the paper glider, kuti kuti, chapteh and paper ball, and both young and old feasted on heritage food like kacang puteh and dragon beard candy.

An evening high on nostalgia.


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“...it is all about having a passion for the Society and a belief in what it stands for.” Gala Dinner 20 November 2004 The Society’s 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Suntec City International Convention & Exhibition Centre ballroom was held in honour of HE S R Nathan, President, Republic of Singapore, who was the Patron for the Society’s golden jubilee celebrations. Other VIPs present included Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, NUS President Prof Shih Choon Fong, and DBS Group Holdings’ Chairman, S Dhanabalan. Prof Dr James Boss, chairperson of the Gala Dinner Organising Committee, felt the dinner was an appropriate and excellent way for the Society to thank its many wellwishers for their generosity and unstinting support over the years. Dr Boss, who has been a member of the Society for more than 20 years, paid tribute to many of the Society’s members who have volunteered their time, support and service to the Society, whether by volunteering to serve in the Sub-Committees or becoming active participants in its activities and promotions. “For me, it is all about having a passion for the Society and a belief in what it stands for,” he declared.

From left: Mrs Lim Pin, Mr and Mrs S Dhanabalan, Prof Lim Pin, Prof and Mrs Tan Eng Chye.

NUSS member, Eddie Lee (right) welcoming Dr Yaacob Ibrahim.


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engaging minds...... NUSS Professorship Lecture 27 January 2004 Distinguished academician John Habraken, Emeritus Professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and head of the department of architecture from 1975 to 1981, delivered the NUSS Professorship Lecture.

Prof John Habraken (Above) addressing a rapt audience (Below).

Prof Habraken, renowned as an architect whose knowledge of dwelling contruction is encyclopedic, and whose insights have been described as peerless, provoked thought with his lecture Architecture Without Buildings. Prof Habraken was an early advocate of the concept of open buildings and envisioned a future where architects focus only on the exterior and base structure of buildings, while allowing other specialists and even residents to formulate the floor plans and amenities. Of his revolutionary idea, he said, “This future frightens many of my colleagues. They don’t like this marginalisation of the project as architects would lose control. But it’s not about losing control, but passing the task of designing the interior space to people who are aware of what has to be done to satisfy present and future needs.”

“Architecture Without Buildings”


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Leadership Change in Singapore 27 July 2004 Veteran Member of Parliament Dr Tan Cheng Bock was part of a panel that addressed more than 100 NUSS members, university students and People’s Action Party’s Youth Wing at the forum on Leadership Change in Singapore. Dr Tan, MP since 1980, brought with him the perspective of one who has served in Parliament under three different Prime Ministers – Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Chok Tong, and Lee Hsien Loong. Joining him on the panel were nominated MP Chandra Mohan, and Asst Prof Antonio Rappa from the political science department at NUS. The talk saw the panelists address issues such as the leadership style of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his relationship with the Malay/Muslim community, and the burning question of when the next general elections would be held. A POLITICS CONDUCIVE TO NATION BUILDING 9 NOVEMBER 2004 For Singapore to compete against other vibrant cities, it must give more space to an experimental minority that wants to push boundaries. This was Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s message at a dialogue with NUSS members. “We need the experimentalists,” he said, speaking of a society that is not held down by its middle ground but which is pushed ahead by those who are keen on expanding its boundaries. It is clear that Singapore needs more than just consensus makers to thrive, and that the country is competing with cities in China, India and the West that have exceptional and energetic people. But while there is a need to give more room to those who give society its edge, he advocated a balanced approach – society must still reflect the interests of the conservative majority. The Minister also dealt with issues such as impediments to rootedness and political engagement, and the changes to the education system, which are meant to recognise the diversity of talent. Even as he assured the audience of some 120 professionals that politics would continue to evolve under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s leadership, he called for Singaporeans to come forward to serve the country. “Passion matters for excellence,” he said.

“Passion matters for excellence”


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engaging minds...... Current Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong taking questions form the audience, with Chairperson Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on his left.

The NUSS 50th Anniversary Lecture 18 March 2005 The Society marked the end of a year of festivities with the NUSS lecture delivered by Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong. Fittingly, addressing a diverse audience of more than 1500 of NUSS members, cabinet ministers, members of parliament, NUS academics, members of the diplomatic corps and distinguished Singaporeans from both public and private sectors and students, PM Lee spoke on the Singapore elite. PM Lee spelled out the pivotal role that the elite play in the future of Singapore. And the elite that he envisions is not an exclusive group, but an open and inclusive one with members from all walks of life, regardless of social and family background, and spanning a wide spectrum of society – whether in business, sports or government. “This is the core group of people who occupy key positions of power and influence and set the direction for the whole society and country,” he said. And the future of our country depends on renewing and enlarging this group, and ensuring that the elite continue to see themselves as being responsible for the whole society. “We must be able to continually renew this group, to bring in a consistent flow of younger talent, contributing new ideas and vigour to solving problems,” PM Lee said. He emphasised the role that education plays in shaping the type of elite a society has. If it offers access to all, and provides a good education across the board, as well as peaks of excellence for the most talented students regardless of background, then people from many different backgrounds can rise to the top. But if it is unequal, giving privileged access to a few and closing doors to many others who are equally deserving, it can become a mechanism for entrenching a privileged group.


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“Our elite must have a sense of shared purpose, o f a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to contr ibute to Singapore. The universities can be an important avenue for Singaporeans to contribute to the community too.” Lee Hsien Loong (Prime Minister of Singapore) He pointed to the example of the US universities, whose alumni devote much of their time, energy and expertise to help their schools raise funds, manage endowments and make key decisions.“We have not yet developed such a strong tradition in Singapore, but are now starting to do so. This is one key reason why we are giving the universities more autonomy and flexibility. We hope to engender a greater sense of ownership amongst stakeholders like the council members, management, faculty, students and alumni, so that everyone will chip in their effort to develop firstclass universities. This will be good for the universities and will also strengthen the community spirit and civic society in Singapore.” He reminded all that while realising our vision of Singapore as a vibrant and cosmopolitan hub depends on the efforts of all Singaporeans, the elite bear a heavier responsibility in upholding the values of openness and inclusiveness, and sharing a common mission to serve society. The occasion also saw PM Lee conferred an honorary membership of the Society for his contributions to the nation.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong receives his honorary membership from NUSS President Lai Kim Seng.


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Our Distinguished

H

Honorary Members

onorary memberships are conferred on individuals who have either distinguished themselves in public life or made significant contributions by service to the National University of Singapore, its predecessor institutions or to the National University of Singapore Society. The Society is very proud and honoured to receive them into our midst...

Mr Goh Chok Tong Mr Lee Hsien Loong


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Prof Maurice Baker Prof Kiang Ai Kim

Prof Lim Pin Prof Shih Choon Fong


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Membership through the Years B

y 1994, the Society’s membership of more than 8,000 members was more than double that from a decade ago. The benefits of increased membership were obvious. As past Society President Anwarul Haque noted, “With more members, we can harness greater financial strength as well as more talent to have a think-tank for feedback to the government on various issues, be they cultural, social or in relation to education.”

Members

11,982

2002

11,601

2001

12,406

2000

12,337

1999

12,216

1998

12,038

1997

11,283

1996

10,935

1995

10,494

1994

8,981

Year

2003

By 1998, membership stood at more than 12,000. In 2003, to address a slight decline in membership, a membership promotion campaign launched saw entrance fees being slashed from $5,000 to $3,000. In a member-get-member scheme, existing members who paid more than $3,000 for their entrance fee would have the difference returned to them in the form of cash and F&B vouchers when they introduced a new member to the Society. Membership has also grown in a different way – with older members seeing their children joining the Society as well. Deputy Prime Minister Dr Tony Tan recalled with pride: “I have been a member of the NUSS for almost 40 years, since I graduated from the University, and it was with pleasure that I proposed my son Peter to be a member when he too graduated from NUS. I believe there are many of us who have had or who will have the pleasure of proposing our sons and daughters to be members of the Society.”


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There are currently 258 life members. To qualify as a life member, one has to be above 60 years old, and be a member of NUSS for 25 years.

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Good times at the Society...


Good times at the Society...


True Passion

My heart is filled with sunshine everyday Day by day we go forward on our ways Seeking tomorrow’s passion You can count on me to be true Till there be endless time The passion of glory still remains Love laughter and joy be fulfilled always, and always Where it began it becomes strong Good times seem to be true and good Now and forever the moments still live So let it begin with me Fill my heart with the warmth of sunshine…. Till there be endless time The passion of glory still remains Love laughter and joy be fulfilled always, and always Where it began it becomes strong Good times seems to be true and good Now and forever the moments still live so let it begin with me Fill my heart with warmth of sunshine O Lord-fill with sunshine Words written and sung by James N Boss

Not just merely love or affection. Nor fondness or liking But passion, True Passion.

The NUSS 50th Anniversary special commemorative CD It started with an idea – wouldn’t it be wonderful to put together a CD to commemorate our golden jubilee? Members and friends came forward without hesitation to contribute in whatever way they could. Some wrote the lyrics of the song, some sang, and those who loved jamming played for the album. True Passion was the theme of the Society’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The production of the commemorative CD for the occasion truly demonstrated the dedication and collegial spirit within the Society.


LOOKING AHEAD

View of landscaped Alumni Terrace with meeting place and rooftop open terrace dining surrounding it.

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he end of 2004 saw the close of our 50th anniversary celebrations while 2005 brings us to a new chapter in NUSS, with much for which the Society is gratified. The relationship shared between the Society and its alma mater has grown from strength to strength. This forms a foundation of confidence between the University, alumni and NUSS. In tandem with the University’s rising reputation, graduating from NUS now holds even more in store for graduates and alumni members. In Singapore’s new landscape of higher education, exciting changes are afoot. The Society is proud to be part of this change that is transforming the University. This is crystallised in our support for the Alumni Complex and the future formation of a single alumni body.


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In November 2004, in a global sur vey of academics in 88 countries across five continents by The Times Higher Education supplement of London, NUS was ranked among the world’s top universities, ahead of reputable international universities as well as top research institutions. NUS President, Prof Shih Choon Fong was delighted to find NUS in such illustrious company. He acknowledged that higher education is a global industry today, and a leading university is increasingly defined in terms of international competition. In this framework, NUS has to compete globally for the best in academic talent amongst both students and staff. “We welcome these international comparisons, because we are confident of the quality of our education at NUS, and we can raise our profile further if we make it to such lists,” he said. With NUS’ standing within the international academic community at an all time high, the University is well positioned to meet the new challenges it faces. Fundamental changes are taking place in the education landscape as the government bestows greater autonomy upon its tertiary institutions. With greater autonomy, the University will have greater freedom not just in deciding on operational matters such as fees and admission criteria allocation, but also in actively shaping the future of the institution. Together, this movement means greater commitment is required of all who have a stake in the University’s success.

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NUS, ranked among the top 20 of the world’s leading academic institutions, competes globally for the best academic talent among staff as well as students.


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A HOME ON CAMPUS: THE ALUMNI COMPLEX PROJECT In his State of the University address in November 2004, Prof Shih urged the different groups of stakeholders among the larger university community to cultivate a sense of ownership of NUS.

NUS President Prof Shih Choon Fong: The Society is a stakeholder and key partner of the University.

Elevational view of Kent Ridge Guild House from Kent Ridge Drive.

“Owners are enablers and facilitators... When everyone among us takes ownership, our University will be transformed into a community that supports one another in our quest for excellence.” Prof Shih believed that the alumni have a key role in sustaining the high standing of its alma mater and acknowledged the partnership of the Society.

“NUSS has contributed significantly over the years to our University... The location of the NUSS Guild House at Kent Ridge symbolises the close bond between alumni and alma mater.” Prof Shih Choon Fong


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NUSS President Lai Kim Seng affirms the commitment of the Society in supporting the University’s aspirations. “The Society is inextricably linked to the University. We see ourselves as one of the key stakeholders in the University’s quest to become a global University,” he said. And nowhere is this more evident than in its support for the Alumni Complex project. This is an exciting new development that, once completed in 2007, will be a home for the University’s alumni family – all 150,000 of them, living and working all over the world. Architecturally, the Alumni Complex has been conceived as a single entity. The concept brief for the Alumni Complex is: §

a spawning ground for ideas as alumni return to their place of learning to generate ideas and engage in NUS’ aspirations;

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a meeting place and a centre of activity;

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a sense of place to accentuate the pride of belonging to a prestigious University with a rich heritage.

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View of Kent Ridge Guild House from the Alumni Terrace showing the activity spaces around the garden.


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Kent Ridge Guild House front entrance and reception pavilion.

The design competition drew 44 entries from a wide spectrum of architectural firms. The winning design was by alumnus Kim Loh Fong who graduated from the school of architecture in 1971. He is also a member of the Society.

“We didn’t set out to win the competition. Win or not, we wanted to tell a story: The story of someone – young or old – coming back and feeling at home.” Kim Loh Fong In February 2003, a Project Committee co-chaired by Lai Kim Seng and Prof Yong Kwet Yew, was formed to spearhead the physical development of the Alumni Complex. Built on 24 hectares of land, the Alumni Complex will incorporate a brand new Alumni House and a redeveloped Kent Ridge Guild House. While the vision for

Kim Loh Fong, chairman of Architects Vista Pte Ltd, which submitted the winning entry in the Alumni Complex Design Competition.

the Alumni Complex has been separately iterated by both NUS and NUSS to reflect the specific requirements of their constituents – including alumni members, faculty, students, guests and visitors, collectively – the two parties also share the common vision of the Alumni Complex as a visible and prominent landmark for NUSS and the NUS alumni community. Additionally, the new complex will showcase their heritage and traditions, and serve as a base for networking and activities on campus. Upon completion, the Alumni House will feature a heritage gallery depicting the University’s past, a hall of fame to recognise benefactors and distinguished alumni,


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The Path towards Autonomy

he path towards autonomy for NUS began in 2000, when under a Ministry of Education University Governance and Funding (UGF) review, NUS was given some operational autonomy, particularly in terms of staff remuneration and a block budget for recurrent expenditure. The internal governance structures of the universities were also strengthened, with university Councils encouraged to play a role in strategic planning. In 2004, NUS was given the flexibility to determine the profile of up to 10% of their intakes using their own independent admission criteria. The University Autonomy, Governance and Funding Steering Committee was established in April 2004 by Minister for Education, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam. The Steering Committee’s task – to recommend an appropriate model of autonomy for Singapore’s publicly-funded universities that will enable them to respond to the opportunities and challenges of a more competitive university landscape, and to achieve global excellence.

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education

In its preliminary recommendations released in January 2005, the Steering Committee recommended that NUS become an autonomous university by being corporatised as a not-for-profit company. Earlier, in July 2004, Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan had said that “…greater autonomy will engender a more entrepreneurial spirit in the universities, so that they will lead the charge rather than wait to take the cue from the Government.”

As an autonomous university, NUS will have greater flexibility to decide on matters such as its internal governance, budget utilisation, tuition fees and admission requirements. The Steering Committee’s report states: “Giving the universities autonomy sends a clear signal that the universities belong to the stakeholders. It will help to engender a mindset change and instil a greater sense of pride among the key university stakeholders, including Council members, senior management, faculty, students and alumni, so that they will be encouraged to play a more active role in charting the future, and shaping the unique culture and identity of their universities.”


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as well as meeting rooms and spaces for learning and development. New additions to the Guild House will include an enlarged Guild Hall, rooftop tennis courts, new restaurants, outdoor terrace areas and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. NUSS will contribute $20 million towards this joint initiative, comprising $15 million for the Phase one development of the Kent Ridge Guild House and a $5 million donation for the Alumni House.

These NUS students, together with the 150,000 alumni living and working all over the world, will soon have a home on campus with the completion of the Alumni Complex.


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TOWARDS A SINGLE ALUMNI BODY In conjunction with the physical development, a task force was commissioned by NUS President, Prof Shih Choon Fong in September 2003 to study and review recommendations and suggestions from all the NUS alumni groups for the proposed establishment of a new unified alumni body, known as the National University of Singapore Alumni (NUSA). This single body will bring together all the different alumni groups with the objectives of promoting NUS interests and supporting the University’s aspirations to be a global knowledge enterprise. The NUSA task force, co-chaired by NUSS Vice President, Dr Cheah Kim Fee and Associate Professor Lawrence Loh, held its first meeting a month later. Two dialogue sessions with all the alumni groups followed, and the task force presented an interim progress report in mid 2004. In a preliminary report, entitled: “Towards a Single Alumni Body: Governance, Membership and Alumni Representation in NUS Governance”, a membership framework was drafted that included all NUS-linked alumni associations – faculty-based, interestbased, overseas-based associations as well as NUSS. A governance model was also outlined to ensure the workings of the organisation would be efficient and effective. In addition, the task force also recommended alumni representation on the NUS Council.

GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY Like the University, the Society is also going global. NUSS has embarked on a concerted initiative of forging ties with alumni organisations overseas. Identifying this as a tangible way to add value to the NUSS membership, the Society aims to create a global networking platform that its members can tap into.

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The changing skyline of Singapore from the Terrace at Suntec City Guild House.

The Society remains guided by its mission statement:

“To excel as the foremost graduate society in Singapore and make significant contributions to NUS, the nation and the world.”

FACING THE FUTURE Going forward, NUSS is excited about the future. As of early 2005, the number of young members in the Society stands at more than 40 percent and continues to increase. Recognising the younger generation as leaders of the future, the Society meets new demands and challenges through expansion and staying relevant. By connecting the rich historical heritage that NUSS holds to this pool of talent, we are confident that a new breed of leaders will come forward and serve, seize opportunities and take the Society to the next level. It's been a good 50 years. Here’s to 50 more years of True Passion.


NU


USS


T h e N U SS M i SSi o N

“To excel as the foremost graduate society in Singapore and make significant contributions to NUS, the nation and the world.�

National University of Singapore Society Kent Ridge Guild House 9 Kent Ridge Drive Singapore 119241 Website: www.nuss.org.sg

NUSS Fifty Years and On – True Passion  

A razorSHARK design. 2004, October. NUSS' 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book. Written by Christine Chua. © National University of Singapore...

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