Mr S. R. Nathan (Lifetime Achievement)
Mr S. R. Nathan, the former President of Singapore, belongs to the pioneer batch of social work students who graduated with a Diploma in Social Studies in 1954 from the University of Malaya.
He first began his career as a medical social worker then as a seaman’s welfare officer. At a critical period of Singapore’s history before our Independence in 1965, he served as a trade union mediator. Thereafter, he had a very distinguished 50-year career in civil service, notably in the Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministries, and as a Diplomat. He was Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Director of the Security and Intelligence Division of the Ministry of Defence, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ambassador to the United States of America, Ambassador-at-Large, and Director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies. At an age when most people contemplate retirement, he served two terms of Presidency and is Singapore’s longest serving President, from 1999 to 2011.
Mr Nathan’s journey from humble beginnings to the highest office in the land was one marked by unexpected turns and formidable challenges. His motivation on this journey stems from a clear and strong sense of duty, where, in his own words, his “conscience” was his “compass”. Whether it was campaigning for the welfare of seafarers in the 1950s, negotiating during the Laju incident of 1974 with hijackers who have entered Singapore waters with the intention of blowing up major oil installations on Pulau Bukum, or founding the President’s Challenge in 2000 to encourage people of all ages and from all walks of life to strengthen “the spirit of community caring and volunteerism,” Mr Nathan walked the talk with courage and compassion, as a pioneer, leader and doer.
For Mr Nathan, the opportunity of a university education is to be seized upon and made full use of in order to prepare for life. His links with NUS and FASS began in 1952 when he enrolled at the Faculty of Arts, University of Malaya. Not only was he an outstanding student, Mr Nathan’s passion for social causes led him to conduct research on gritty issues. His final year dissertation revealed that lodging-house keepers were running a system which amounted to debt enslavement of Asian seamen awaiting their next shipboard employment. These findings attracted the attention of the government, and eventually led to the setting up of the Asian Seamen’s Registry.
Mr Nathan remained actively involved in education today. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Singapore Management University, Nanyang Technological University, as well as the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He also holds the Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from NUS. In 2013, Mr Nathan gave his support to set up the S R Nathan Professorship in Social Work at NUS, which enables the University to uphold the long-term goal of promoting social work education and encouraging research among scholars in Singapore and Asia on issues related to social development, poverty and asset building.
Born in 1924, Mr Nathan turns 91 this July. For all the years of his life, he has worked to help Singapore build and grow into a modern, prosperous, and stable nation. He has lived up to a simple code: in his words, “Duty – to friends and family, to my fellow men, to country – is paramount to my view of life, and I have tried my best to live up to this ethic.”
Professor Maurice Baker
Professor Maurice Baker is an academic and one of Singapore's pioneer diplomats. Growing up in colonial Malaya and Singapore, he received his education at the Anglo-Chinese School in Ipoh and Raffles College in Singapore. His profound love for English literature and teaching inspired him to obtain an honours degree in English from King's College, London in 1948.
After two years as the Head of the Department of Extra-Mural Studies in the University of Singapore, Professor Baker was approached by then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr S. Rajaratnam to be Singapore's first High Commissioner to India. Professor Baker's humble beginnings and political consciousness earned him the friendship and respect of many diplomats during his missions to India in 1967, Malaysia in 1969, Philippines in 1977 and Malaysia again in 1980 before retiring from his career as a diplomat in 1988. Between his diplomatic missions, Professor Baker returned to Singapore in 1971 to head the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Singapore until 1977.
In recognition of his contributions to the University and Singapore, he was awarded the Public Service Star (BBM) and the Meritorious Service Medal (PJG) in 1987, and was appointed Pro-Chancellor of NUS in 1989.
Malaysia also bestowed on him the honour of Panglima Setia Mahkota which carries the title of "Tan Sri," in recognition of the role he played in inter-government relations during his diplomatic tenure there.
Professor Wang Gungwu
Professor Wang Gungwu is a prominent historian of Asia. He grew up in Ipoh and obtained his Cambridge Certificate at Anderson School after receiving only four months of formal education in a Chinese school during the Japanese Occupation. Upon returning from a year and a half at the National Central University in Nanjing, he was admitted in 1949 to the newly established University of Malaya. The Faculties of Arts and Sciences took only 100 freshmen and housed the male students in its dormitories (now the Faculty of Law at the Bukit Timah Campus) where they developed new ideas and aspirations. He was among a few of the graduates who chose an academic career and he has never looked back since.
Professor Wang received his Bachelor of Arts with Honours and Master's degrees from the University of Malaya in Singapore and his PhD at the University of London (1957). His teaching career took him from the University of Malaya (Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Professor of History), to the Australian National University (1968-1986) where he was Professor and Head of the Department of Far Eastern History and Director of the Research of Pacific Studies. From 1986 to 1995, he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong. He was Director of East Asian Institute of NUS from 1997 to 2007.
Today, Professor Wang is the Chairman of the East Asian Institute and University Professor of NUS. He is concurrently Chairman of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School Public Policy at NUS and also Emeritus Professor of the Australian National University. His distinguished career includes: Commander of the British Empire (CBE); Fellow, and former President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities; Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Science; Member of Academia Sinica; Honorary Member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In 1994, he was conferred the International Academic Prize, Fukuoka Asian Cultural Prizes.
His books since 2010 include: The Eurasian Core and its Edges, Dialogues with Ooi Kee Beng on the history of the world (2015); Renewal: The Chinese State and the New Global History (2013); Another China Cycle: Committing to Reform (2013); Wang Gungwu: Educator and Scholar (2013); Wang Gungwu, Junzi, Scholar-gentleman: in conversation with Asad-ul Iqbal Latif (2010).
Mr Herman Ronald Hochstadt
Mr Herman Ronald Hochstadt has a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Philosophy (1958) at the then University of Malaya, where he was a council member of the University of Malaya Students’ Union, president of the Raffles Society, vice president of the Archaeological Society and publications secretary of the Socialist Club; as well as a Graduate Assistant (Tutor) in the Department of Philosophy. He also took the Advanced Management Programme at INSEAD, Fontainbleau, France (1978).
A former top Singapore civil service administrator, he was involved in many aspects of Singapore’s milestones since independence – from helping to lay the foundation for the Singapore Armed Forces, Foreign Service and the MRT, to being in the vanguard at Singapore’s admission to the United Nations. He served in several ministries and agencies of the public service over 30 years, from 1959 to1989: Finance, Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Defence, Communications, Education and Law, as well as the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Board of Commissioners of Currency. Thereafter, he was High Commissioner (Non Resident) for Singapore to Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania (1989-99).
He also served as Member of government and public bodies such as Singapore’s Presidential Council for Minority Rights, Presidential Election Committee, Singapore International Foundation, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, Central Provident Fund Board, National Productivity Board, Adult Education Board and Vocational & industrial Training Board, as well as Special Adviser to the Port and Maritime Authority of Singapore. He became one of the Pro-Chancellors of the Nanyang Technological University in 1995. On the corporate front, he was Chairman of Neptune Orient Lines Ltd, Export Credit Insurance Corporation of Singapore and Singapore Turf Club and a founder director of Singapore Airlines. He is a Patron of the Eurasian Association of Singapore, of which he was also a Trustee and is a Trustee of the Thye Hua Kuan-Ang Mo Kio Community Hospital.
He was awarded the Singapore National Day Public Administration Medal (Bronze) 1963 and (Gold) 1978, and the Public Service Star 1998. He was invited as US State Department Distinguished Visitor in 1974 and appointed Fellow, Management Development Institute of Singapore (1976) and Singapore Institute of Management (1988). In 2013, he set up the Hochstadt Scholarship in the Humanities to commemorate the Hochstadt family in Singapore past and present, in particular those who were graduates of the University of Malaya and the National University of Singapore.
Mrs Tan Suan Imm
Mrs Tan Suan Imm nee Chew graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in 1961 and a Diploma in Education from the University of Singapore in 1962. She went on to pursue a fulfilling 33-year career in education, retiring as Principal of Temasek Secondary School in 1995. She then did a brief stint in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Deputy Chief of Protocol and retired from full-time employment in 1997.
In the subsequent ears since graduation, Mrs Tan has remained connected with her alma mater, working as a part-time tutor and later as a textbook writer at the Department of History on secondment from the Ministry of Education. She was a non-resident Fellow of Eusoff College in Evans Road from 1973 for several years, and in 2005, played a key role in the successful signature drive to garner support among alumni for the return of Bukit Timah Campus to NUS.
She is currently a non-resident fellow of Eusoff Hall, a member of the Financial Aid, Bursary and Scholarship Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and has also been a host under the 'My FASS Family Host Programme' since its inauguration in 2009. She was conferred the NUS Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2009.
She also served for some years as a member of the Institute of Technical Education (Tampines) Advisory Committee, the Inter-Ministerial Committee Workgroup on Health Care, an Honorary Counsellor in the Social Development Unit, Ministry of Community Development, an Honorary Fellow of Victoria Hall, Victoria School, a Resource person for some of NTUC's education and training programmes in South-west Community Development Council and a Deputy Registrar of Marriages.
Ambassador Chan Heng Chee
Ambassador Chan Heng Chee is among the first batch of Political Science students at the University of Singapore in 1960 and one of the only four honours students from that batch. Today, she is Ambassador-at-Large with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and concurrently Singapore's Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). She is Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities in the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and Chairman of the National Arts Council (NAC). Ambassador Chan is also a Member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights.
She is a member of the Board of Trustees of NUS and the Yale-NUS Governing Board and a Governor of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. Ambassador Chan is also a Founding Director on the Board of the S Rajaratnam Endowment CLG Limited. Overseas, she is a Trustee of Asia Society and a member of the Board of Lowy Institute for International Policy. Ambassador Chan was appointed to the International Advisory Group of the MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism.
She served as Singapore's Ambassador to the United States from 1996 to 2012 and she was also Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1989 to 1991 and concurrently High Commissioner to Canada and Ambassador to Mexico.
Ambassador Chan has received a number of awards including the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 1999; the Meritorious Service Medal in 2005; the Distinguished Service Order in 2011; Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Letters in 1994 from the University of Newcastle (Australia) and the University of Buckingham (United Kingdom) in 1998. She was named Singapore's first "Woman of the Year" in 1991 by Her World magazine, and was awarded the National Book Awards in 1986 for A Sensation of Independence: A Political Biography of David Marshall and in 1978 for The Dynamics of One Party Dominance: The PAP at the Grassroots.
When Ambassador Chan left Washington at the end of her appointment, she received the Inaugural Asia Society Outstanding Diplomatic Achievement Award, the Inaugural Foreign Policy Outstanding Diplomatic Achievement Award 2012 and the United States Navy Distinguished Public Service Award.
Mr Yap Boh Tiong
Mr Yap Boh Tiong completed his Bachelor and Master's degrees, both in Sociology, at the University of Singapore. He also holds a Diploma in Public Relations from the internationally regarded CAM Foundation in London. He is currently the Chairman of Mileage Communications Group, Singapore's largest home-grown public relations consultancy with 15 offices in nine Asian countries.
Before starting Mileage Communications Pte Ltd, he worked with a number of leading Singapore companies in senior public relations and marketing positions. These included The Straits Times (Journalist), Singapore Airlines (Marketing Executive and Public Relations Officer), United Overseas Bank (Vice President and Head of the Public Relations and Advertising Department) and Inchcape Berhad (Group Corporate Affairs Manager).
Mr Yap was the president of the Institute of Public Relations of Singapore (IPRS) FROM 1985 to 1993. For his outstanding work for the Institute and the industry, he was conferred the title of Fellow by IPRS in 1994. In February 2000, he was named PR Professional of the Year by the Institute, in recognition of his contributions to the PR industry.
Mr Yap has volunteered in NUS' public relations work over the years. He was the former Chairman of the NUS Public Relations Advisory Committee, member of the SPGG since 1978/79 and currently involved in the NUS Development Office's Communications Committee. It was on his suggestion and active support that the FASS established the 'My FASS Family Host Programme' in 2009. Mr Yap is also extremely active as a career mentor in the FASS Mentorship Programme. He engages FASS undergraduates in career exposure activities, including offering internships as well as job opportunities. He also actively gives career talks and workshops at various NUS departments and centres such as the Department of Communications and New Media. He was also instrumental in bringing together the Sociology Pioneer Class of 1969 to set up a class bursary fund to commemorate their 45th year of graduation in 2014.
Mr Yap's community work and professional achievements have garnered a number of prestigious national level awards. One of which is the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2014, which was jointly organised by the Rotary Club of Singapore and the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME). This is the oldest award in Singapore that salutes and honours local entrepreneurs who have shown outstanding performance as business owners.
Professor Kishore Mahbubani
Professor Kishore Mahbubani graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Philosophy from the University of Singapore in 1971. A student of philosophy and history, he has enjoyed a career in government and, at the same time, in writing on public issues. With the Singapore Foreign Service from 1971 to 2004, he had postings in Cambodia (where he served during the war in 1973-74), Malaysia, Washington DC and New York, where he served two stints as Singapore's Ambassador to the UN and as President of the UN Security Council in January 2001 and May 2002. He was also Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Ministry from 1993 to 1998. Currently, he is the Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS. Concurrently, he continues to serve in Boards and Councils of several institutions in Singapore, Europe and North America, including the Yale President's Council on International Activities (PCIA), Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, University of Bocconi International Advisory Committee, World Economic Forum - Global Agenda Council on Geo-Economics and as Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Nominating Committee.
In the world of ideas, Professor Mahbubani has spoken and published globally. His articles have appeared in a wide range of journals and newspapers, including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Washington Quarterly, Survival, American Interest, National Interest, Time, Newsweek, Financial Times and New York Times. He has also been profiled in the Economist and in Time Magazine. He is the author of four books namely, Can Asians Think?, Beyond the Age of Innocence, The New Asian Hemisphere and The Great Convergence.
Professor Mahbubani was conferred the Public Administration Medal (Gold) by the Singapore government in 1998. The Foreign Policy Association Medal was awarded to him in New York in June 2004 with the following opening words in the citation: "A gifted diplomat, a student of history and philosophy, a provocative writer and an intuitive thinker." He was also listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines in September 2005, and included in the March 2009 Financial Times list of Top 50 individuals (including Barack Obama, Wen Jiabao and Nicholas Sarkozy) who shaped the debate on the future of capitalism. He was selected as one of Foreign Policy's Top Global Thinkers in 2010 and 2011.