Former NUS Chancellor and Singapore President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam headed this year’s National Day Awards, having been conferred Singapore’s highest honour for civilians — Order of Temasek (1st Class) — for his decades of unstinting dedication to public service. The Awards also saw NUS’ former Chairman Mr Wong Ngit Liong being honoured with the Distinguished Service Order for his many significant contributions to Singapore and NUS.
Dr Tony Tan is a familiar and well-loved figure at the University, where he was a physics student at the then University of Malaya, graduating with a First Class Honours degree. He returned to the University as a lecturer with first NUS Physics and thereafter NUS Mathematics. Appointed as NUS Vice Chancellor in 1980 as well as serving as Singapore’s Minister for Education from 1980 to 1981, and again from 1985 to 1991, Dr Tony Tan was a passionate champion of higher education and strove to keep university education accessible to all students regardless of their financial circumstances.
In September 2011, Dr Tony Tan was appointed as Singapore’s seventh President and concurrently, NUS Chancellor, a position he held till 2017.
Chairman and CEO of Venture Group Mr Wong similarly enjoys longstanding ties with NUS, beginning with his undergraduate education at the then University of Malaya, where he graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Electrical Engineering. Mr Wong assumed Chairmanship of the NUS Council in August 2004 and thereafter Chairmanship of the NUS Board of Trustees in 2006 when the University was corporatised. During this critical transition from a statutory board to an autonomous university, Mr Wong led the NUS leadership team in shaping the University’s vision and charting its direction. As a result, NUS has transformed itself into a leading global university, attaining excellence in both teaching and research.
During his 12-year tenure as NUS Chairman, the modest Mr Wong sought to enhance NUS’ reputation and performance in education, research and enterprise. The spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that he put in place were underscored as being particularly impressive by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education during his speech at an appreciation dinner for Mr Wong in 2017.
Mr Wong was also generous in sharing his experience and insights through board memberships at the Singapore Exchange, DBS Bank and the then Trade Development Board.
Mr Wong said that it had truly been a great honour to serve Singapore and NUS. “I am proud of what NUS has done and continues to do for our country and the entire NUS community. The privilege and joy of serving and contributing to the progress and advancement of the Education and Economic domains in Singapore are already more than adequate reward. And to be awarded with the prestigious Distinguished Service Order for doing what one enjoys is pure ecstasy. I am deeply humbled by this recognition, and will continue to put Singapore first in everything I do,” he said.
Mr Wong has previously been recognised for his contributions to public service; in 2012, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
NUS Chairman Mr Hsieh Fu Hua was honoured with the Meritorious Service Medal for his contributions to the National Gallery Singapore, where he is Chairman. In 2011, Mr Hsieh was presented with the Public Service Medal for his service to NUS as a then member of the NUS Board of Trustees and Deputy Chairman, NUS Business School Management Advisory Board.
Professor Olaf Kübler, former member of NUS Board of Trustees; and President Emeritus, ETH Zurich, was presented with the Public Service Medal. Prof Kübler was an esteemed member of the NUS Board from April 2006 to March 2018, serving in such committees as Campus Planning and Development; and Remuneration. He is currently the Director of Society in Science: The Branco Weiss Fellowship, a position he has held since January 2006.
Several members of the NUS leadership team were among those honoured with the Long Service Medal — NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye; Professor Phoon Kok Kwang, Vice Provost (Academic Personnel); and Professor Andrew Wee, Vice President (University and Global Relations). Dr Susan Ang from NUS English Language and Literature, Council Member of the NUS Teaching Academy and a University Awards winner in 2014, was also honoured with the Long Service Medal.
Professor Kua Ee Heok from NUS Psychological Medicine and Mr Edward D'Silva, a member of the NUS Alumni Advisory Board were presented with the Public Service Star. Both are former recipients of National Day Awards, with Prof Kua having received the Long Service Medal in 2009 and Mr D’Silva being presented with the Public Service Medal in 2014.
Dr Lily Chan, CEO of NUS Enterprise; Professor Chia Kee Seng from Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health; Mr Lim Kin Choo, Vice President (Finance), NUS Financial Services; and Professor Bernard Yeung Yin, NUS Business Dean and Stephen Riady Distinguished Professor at NUS Finance were honoured with the Public Administration Medal (Silver).
Among the recipients of the Public Administration Medal (Bronze) were Mr Edi Fung, Director, NUS Development; Associate Professor Daniel Goh Yam Thiam, NUS Paediatrics; Professor Quek Ser Tong, Head, NUS Civil & Environmental Engineering; and Ms Joan Wong Shui Har, Director, Centre for Future-ready Graduates.
Mr Rajaram Ramasubbhan, Senior Director, NUS Admissions was presented with the Public Service Medal for his contributions as Chairman of the Tamil Language Council.
View the full list of members of the NUS community who received National Day Awards this year.
See media coverage.