NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences honours distinguished alumni

21 April 2017 | Education , General News
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Six eminent individuals lauded for their contributions towards nation-building, growth of the university and promotion of the arts and social sciences

The National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) celebrated the achievements of six eminent alumni at the FASS STARS Awards 2017. 

Established in 2015, the Distinguished Arts and Social Sciences Alumni Award is conferred on individuals in recognition of their distinguished scholarship and outstanding service to the Faculty, the University and Singapore. This year, the prestigious award was conferred on six recipients, namely: Former United Nations Under-Secretary General Dr Noeleen Heyzer; Member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights Mr Abdullah Tarmugi; Former Ambassador Mr Harry Chan Keng Howe; Senior International Advisor of the Temasek International Mr S Dhanabalan; Emeritus Professor Lim Chong Yah; and Executive Chairman of the Banyan Tree Holdings Limited Mr Ho Kwon Ping. These outstanding recipients have also shown excellence in various fields locally and internationally, which has contributed to the betterment and promotion of the arts and social sciences.

Professor Robbie Goh, Dean of the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, said, “We are honoured to commemorate the accomplishments of these six distinguished alumni of the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. They have excelled in their respective fields, and made noteworthy contributions not only to the nation but also to the global community. Their sterling contributions remind us of the importance of the disciplines in the social sciences and humanities as vital training for social engagement, particularly in an ever-changing, global order. Their achievements also remind us of the importance of the faculty’s teaching and research missions, and that these should never function in an intellectual vacuum, but rather in vital dialogue with society.”

Recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Arts and Social Sciences Alumni Awards

Dr Noeleen Heyzer

Dr Noeleen Heyzer was the top sociology student of her cohort, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Upper Hons) in 1971 and a Master of Social Sciences from NUS’ predecessor, the University of Singapore in 1973. She went on to pursue a blazing career, including serving as the Under-Secretary General of the United Nations from 2007 to 2015. She was also the first woman Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific since its founding in 1947, and was the first woman outside of North America to head the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Under her leadership, UNIFEM assisted over 100 countries in the formulation and implementation of legislation and policies that promote women’s security, empowerment and human rights. This resulted in the removal of discriminatory practices, changes in inheritance laws for women, better working conditions for migrant workers, and full participation for women in several peace negotiations and electoral processes. For her distinguished achievements, Dr Heyzer was conferred the Eminent Alumni Award by NUS in 2011. She has also served on numerous boards and advisory committees locally and internationally, and is currently a Member of the NUS Board of Trustees.

Mr Abdullah Tarmugi

Mr Abdullah Tarmugi graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) in Sociology from the University of Singapore in 1969. He began his career as an Urban Sociologist at the Ministry of National Development. He later joined The Straits Times and became its Associate News Editor until 1984 before he joined politics. Mr Abdullah was the Member of Parliament for Siglap until his retirement in 2011. During his 27-year political career, he held various offices such as Minister for Community Development and Sports, Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs and Speaker of Parliament. Among his many portfolios now, he serves as a Member of the NUS Board of Trustees and the Presidential Council for Minority Rights.

Mr Harry Chan Keng Howe

Mr Harry Chan Keng Howe graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the then University of Malaya (predecessor university of NUS) in 1950. With a public service career spanning about 40 years, Mr Chan had served in many roles, including as Secretary of the Public Service Commission, Ambassador to Cambodia and Egypt as well as High Commissioner to New Zealand and India. Since his graduation until today, at the age of 90, Mr Chan has been active in alumni affairs and was the President of the NUSS in 1963 to 1964. He was instrumental in seeing to the return of the Bukit Timah campus to NUS. He had submitted an appeal with a firm reminder that the campus was the intellectual breeding ground for two nations to the Minister of Education, which was supported by 1,700 signatures collected within a week.

Mr S Dhanabalan

Mr S Dhanabalan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics from the University of Malaya in 1960. Upon graduation, he joined the Ministry of Finance as an Assistant Secretary and went on to pursue an illustrious career in public service, beginning as a Member of Parliament for Kallang, then as Minister in several key Ministries, including Foreign Affairs, National Development as well as Trade and Industry. Mr Dhanabalan is also a strong advocate of social causes. He is a patron of the Singapore chapter of Habitat for Humanity and had also served as President of the Singapore Indian Development Association. He continues to wear a number of hats, including serving as Member of the Council of Presidential Advisors and Presidential Council for Minority Rights, and Chairman of the Management Advisory Board of the NUS Business School. In recognition of his dedicated service to Singapore and the community, he received the NUS Eminent Alumni Award in 2009 – this is the University’s highest honour for alumni, and was also conferred the nation’s top civilian honour, the Order of Temasek (First Class), by the Singapore Government in 2015.

Emeritus Professor Lim Chong Yah

Prof Lim Chong Yah received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Statistics and English Literature and an Honours degree in Economics at the then University of Malaya in 1955. He was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Head of the Department of Economics and Statistics at NUS from 1971 to 1992. A highly regarded economics scholar, Prof Lim is the creator and proponent of the EGOIN Theory, the Triple C Theory and the S Curve Hypothesis to explain the poverty and affluence of modern nations and the differences in their rates of economic advance. He has received many awards for his important contributions to economic and national development of Singapore, most notably the Distinguished Service Order in 2000. For his distinguished services to the university and lifelong contributions to research, higher education and Singapore’s economic development, NUS conferred on him the Emeritus Professorship and established the Lim Chong Yah Professorship in 2001.

Mr Ho Kwon Ping

Mr Ho Kwon Ping graduated from the University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1978 and began his career as a broadcast and financial journalist. He was the Economics Editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong before he joined the family business in 1981. In 1994, he launched the Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts. One of Singapore’s most successful entrepreneurs today, Mr Ho has won many awards such as the London Business School Entrepreneurship Award in 2005 and the CEO of the Year at the Singapore Corporate Awards in 2008. He was also the first Asian to receive the American Creative Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, for his creativity and innovation. A prominent thinker, Mr Ho was appointed as the Inaugural S R Nathan Fellow for the Study of Singapore by the NUS’ Institute of Policy Studies, and during his one-year term from 2014 to 2015, he shared his thoughts and ideas on the next 50 years for Singapore through a series of public lectures. 

Please refer to the Annex for information on the award recipients.