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As part of its ScholarBank@NUS initiative, NUS Libraries has recently made publicly available 10 theses written by local famous personalities while they were students at NUS. Included among these 10 personalities, who are also FASS alumni, are Emeritus Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong, singer-actress Ms Joanna Dong and accomplished writer Dr Catherine Lim.

What is perhaps most surprising in this anthology of theses is that Ms Dong’s sociological research proved to be quite perceptive in identifying the paradoxical intimate-yet-anonymous nature of online communication (back then still referred to as computer-mediated communication). This is especially so as social media was nowhere as popular as it is today. Recalling the motivation behind her research, Ms Dong said:

When I chose my thesis topic, I had done so with some childish glee at the prospect of doing some serious writing about a social experience considered back then by most to be “fluff”. Now that social media has become the primary obsession of the modern person, I feel strangely vindicated, as if I had somehow foresaw its rise to significance.

Curious to find out what research interests the other nine famous FASS alumni had during their university days? Click here to find out!

In conjunction with NUS Day of Service 2018, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences collaborated with the NUS Economics Alumni and organised a trip to the Gardens by the Bay for beneficiaries of a children’s charity on 1 September 2018.

The event brought together over 100 FASS alumni, staff and students, and children and their caregivers from Club Rainbow, a charity dedicated to help children with various chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Not only did the children and befrienders enjoy a leisurely walk among the beautiful plants, flowers and the indoor waterfall at the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories, they were treated to a spectacular display of sunflowers in the special “Sunflower Surprise” exhibition at the Flower Dome.

The day at Gardens by the Bay ended with a hearty meal at Texas Chicken. Much to the joy of the children, one of the FASS students wore the costume of Arthur, the red panda Faculty mascot, to pose for pictures while another student made sculpture balloons for them.

Professor Robbie Goh, Dean of FASS, who was at the event, said: “I am very happy to see the Club Rainbow children enjoy themselves today and I would like to thank our student and alumni volunteers for making this event a success. I look forward to more opportunities for FASS to participate in such meaningful events in the future.”

On Friday, 24 August 2018, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong helped launch a new book on Singapore’s asset building policies. Co-edited by Dr S. Vasoo from the Department of Social Work and Associate Professor Bilveer Singh from the Department of Political Science, “Critical Issues in Asset Building in Singapore’s Development” discusses how Singapore’s strong emphasis on asset building policies in its model of governance has facilitated the nation’s growth since independence. (From Left to Right: A/P Irene Ng, Dr S. Vasoo, PM Lee Hsien Loong, A/P Bilveer Singh, A/P Bernard Loo, and Dr Norshahril Saat)



PM Lee delivering his speech at the Book Launch

“Singapore’s asset-building approach emphasises individual work ethic and personal responsibility supported by government policies and resources”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last Friday. Citing examples of Housing Development Board (HDB) flats and the Central Provident Fund (CPF) as tangible assets that contributed to Singapore’s success, Mr Lee shared that Singaporeans’ support for these policies also constituted intangible assets that underpin Singapore’s society and unity by holding us together as one people.

Mr Lee made these comments at the book launch of Critical Issues in Asset Building in Singapore’s Development, co-edited by Dr S. Vasoo, Former Member of Parliament (1984 – 2001) and Associate Professorial Fellow at the Department of Social Work, and Associate Professor Bilveer Singh from the Department of Political Science, NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Among the policies discussed in the book are multiculturalism, accessible housing, social mobility for low-income families, water resource management, and national conscription.

The launch saw an impressive turnout with esteemed members across Singapore’s four generations of leaders in attendance (From left to right: Mr Ng Kah Ting, Mr Tang See Chim, Mr Ong Pang Boon, PM Lee Hsien Loong, Prof Robbie Goh, and Minister Ong Ye Kung)

In his speech, PM Lee further elaborated on the Government’s motivations behind selling Housing Development Board (HDB) flats to Singaporeans on 99-year leases, in place of alternatives such as instituting controlled rents, providing rental flats, or simply leaving housing to the private market. In addition to ensuring that housing remains affordable for Singaporeans, Mr Lee shares, the sale of HDB flats inculcates in its owners with a sense of responsibility and interest in the long-term value of the property, and, correspondingly, “the society and system on which the value of his home depends”.

Another key initiative is the Central Provident Fund (CPF). While originally designed to help Singaporeans save for retirement, its purpose has expanded over time to include savings for housing, medical, and education needs as well, all of which helps Singaporeans build up their assets. Acknowledging alternative and divergent voices, Mr Lee emphasised that constructive debate should be encouraged, as it will “help us understand issues better, come up with better solutions, see things in a fresh perspective, and move debate, policy, and outcomes forward”.

PM Lee chats with students from the Department of Social Work and the Department of Political Science, NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Both authors also gave opening remarks at the Book Launch that echoed PM Lee’s emphasis on people being Singapore’s key asset. Calling the book the brainchild of Dr S. Vasoo, A/P Singh maintains that Singapore is not special because of its financial assets. After all, “this is something that oil or gold rich states can easily do.” Rather, A/P Singh shares, Singapore’s success is owed to the social and political stability that has prevailed since independence, a stability that is built on its exceptional people, forward-looking, optimistic, and armed with a strong survivalist orientation; and its people-centric leadership that pioneered asset-building initiatives.


The book makes explicit the role of the first 3 generations of leaders that contributed to the construction of what is known as modern Singapore, A/P Singh shares. “It is as if each brick that was laid to build a complex called Singapore - something that was the function of dreams, visions, nightmares, hard work, team spirit and a sense of unity that is hard to come by in a highly fractured small state surrounded by challenging geopolitics.”

A/P Singh’s sentiments were shared by Dr Vasoo, who remarked that Singaporeans need to continue to work on and strengthen the foundation laid by pioneers. If we do not work in close unison, Dr Vasoo cautions, “our asset building efforts will be slowly eroded and Singapore will not be an attractive place to live and work”. “With good governance, social stability and better people, Singapore will be able to further enhance its asset building capacities and encourage the succeeding younger generation of Singaporeans to design new socio-economic and political scaffolds that make our society sustainable,” Dr Vasoo adds.

“Critical Issues in Asset Building in Singapore’s Development” is available at all major bookstores including Kinokuniya, Times the Bookstore, MPH, and Popular. It retails at S$36 (paperback). More information about the book can be found at:

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) is pleased to announce that Professor Henry Yeung, Professor of Economic Geography, Department of Geography, has been appointed Distinguished Professor of the National University of Singapore (NUS), which has taken effect immediately. The Distinguished Professorship is awarded to senior faculty members who have achieved excellence and international recognition in research and creative activity as well as significant and impactful leadership in raising the standards of the University with respect to research or creative activity, education and service.

Professor Yeung has also won the NUS University Research Recognition Award 2018.  This award, which carries a cash prize of $3,000 and a research grant of $15,000, is given to a select group of faculty members in recognition of the prestigious international research awards they have won.  Notably, in June 2017, Professor Yeung was conferred the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) Murchison Award 2017 in the UK for “pioneering publications in the field of globalisation”.  In December 2017, he was selected by the American Association of Geographers to receive the AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honours for 2018 “in recognition of his extraordinary scholarship and leadership in the discipline”.  With the two awards, Professor Yeung has not only achieved the highest scholarly distinction in both British and American Geography, but also created history by being the only person from Asia to be recognised with awards/honours by both of Geography’s most important professional bodies.

The Faculty looks forward to Professor Yeung’s continued leadership and successful contributions to the University’s expanding efforts to strengthen the international profile of NUS.

The FASS community congratulates Professor Yeung on his achievements!

About Professor Henry Yeung

Professor Yeung received his BA Hons (NUS) in 1992 and PhD (Manchester) in 1995 and was promoted to Full Professor in 2005.  He has spent his entire two-decade long career in NUS and contributed impactfully to its global mission and reputation during that time.  To date, Professor Yeung has achieved outstanding international recognition for his highly cited work in the social sciences and made significant contributions through his various leadership roles in raising the international standing of NUS research. 

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