Mr J Y Pillay, former Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) and Rector of the NUS College of Peter & Alice Tan, topped the National Day Awards this year, receiving the highest honour for civilians — the Order of Temasek (with Distinction). NUS Honorary Doctor of Letters Dr Gerard Ee Hock Kim, Chairman of the Charity Council and Agency for Integrated Care, was honoured with a Distinguished Service Order.
Mr Pillay is one of Singapore’s pioneers and a veteran civil servant. Over his long and distinguished career, he served in key ministries including finance, defence and national development, playing a crucial role in the development of post-independent Singapore.
Mr Pillay is perhaps most known for his achievements as the Chairman of the nation’s flagship carrier, Singapore Airlines. Under his direction, it grew from a small company with a modest fleet of 12 aeroplanes into a world-class carrier.
For his dedicated service to Singapore, he was previously awarded two other National Day Awards — the Meritorious Service Award in 1978 and the Order of Nila Utama in 2012.
Mr Pillay holds the record of the longest serving chairman of CPA, a position he held from 2001 to January 2019. He was also the founding chairman of the Singapore Stock Exchange and the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and served as chairman of various other companies including Temasek Holdings and the Development Board of Singapore. Formerly Singapore’s Ambassador to Ireland and High Commissioner to Britain, he is currently a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, and a board member of the Vatican's Financial Information Authority.
In honour of his many contributions, the University has presented him with multiple accolades, including the Outstanding Service Award at the University Awards in 2010. He is seen as a role model for the NUS community. The J Y Pillay Global-Asia Programme and the J Y Pillay Study Award at Yale-NUS College were established in 2012 in his name. The Global-Asia Programme incorporates two Distinguished Professorships, one Fellowship and also innovative academic and student programmes while the Study Award supports financially needy students at the College. NUS also instituted the J Y Pillay Comparative Asia Research Centre under the NUS Global Asia Institute. This Centre pursues comparative research into key development issues of Asia.
Dr Ee is a well-known figure in Singapore’s charity sector. The son of Singapore’s “Father of Charity” —the late Mr Ee Peng Liang, Dr Ee is a champion of many social causes, including the Assisi Home and Hospice, Action for Aids, Mount Alvernia Hospital and the Canossian School for the Hearing Impaired.
An accountant by trade, he has also served as a Nominated Member of Parliament, President of the National Council of Social Service and the Chairman of the Public Transport Council. He also headed the Ministerial Salary Review Committee in 2012.
Dr Ee is credited for the turning around of the reputation of the Singapore National Kidney Foundation (NKF) after a corruption scandal in 2005 caused the organisation to lose public faith. Through his capable leadership, NKF regained its footing and rebuilt public trust to become one of the major healthcare charities in Singapore.
Dr Ee is an active supporter of NUS Social Work. He was a member of the fundraising committee for the S R Nathan Professorship in Social Work and was also advisor to the Ee Peng Liang Memorial Fund. In addition, Dr Ee is a member of the Resource Committee on research relating to accountability of the social service sector, chaired by NUS Centre for Social Development Asia.
For his many contributions to Singapore, Dr Ee has previously received three National Day Awards — the Public Service Medal in 1993, the Public Service Star in 2003 and the Meritorious Service Medal in 2007.
Newly minted NUS Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Singapore Business Federation Mr Teo Siong Seng, Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) Governing Board Chairman Mr Kai Nargolwala, Duke-NUS Adjunct Associate Professor Kevin Lim Boon Leong, as well as Duke-NUS Centre for Ageing Research and Education Advisory Board member Mr Richard Sim Hwee Cher were also honoured at this year’s awards. They received the Public Service Star for their contributions to the country.
Receiving the Public Administration Medal (Silver) this year were Dean of NUS Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music Professor Bernard Lanskey; Dean of NUS Law Professor Simon Chesterman; Provost’s Chair Professor, Vice Dean of Academic & Clinical Development at Duke-NUS, and NUS Ophthalmology Professor Wong Tien Yin; Duke-NUS Governing Board Member Mr Alvin Lim Chng Thien; Duke-NUS Adjunct Professor Kenneth Kwek Yung Chiang; Director of NUS Safety, Health and Environment Dr Peck Thian Guan; and Chief Communications Officer at the NUS Office of University Communications Ms Ovidia Lim-Rajaram.
See the full list of National Day Award 2019 recipients from the NUS community.