A deep loss for Country and University: In memory of Mr Ngiam Tong Dow

Mr Ngiam Tong Dow had spent decades in service to NUS and Singapore

Former NUS Pro-Chancellor and eminent alumnus Mr Ngiam Tong Dow passed away on 20 Aug at the age of 83.

Mr Ngiam’s longstanding relationship with the University dates back to the 1950s when he was a student at the University of Malaya in Singapore, NUS’ predecessor institution. After graduating in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with First Class Honours, he received a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University in 1964.

A top Singapore civil servant who played an instrumental role in nation-building during Singapore’s formative years, Mr Ngiam’s sterling career spanned a period of over 40 years. He served as Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Communications.

He was Chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board, Development Bank of Singapore, Central Provident Fund Board and the Housing and Development Board. He also served on the Boards of Temasek Holdings, Singapore Airlines, Singapore Press Holdings and United Overseas Bank.

For his decades of selfless service to the country, Mr Ngiam was conferred a number of public service awards – the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 1971, the Meritorious Service Medal in 1978, and the Distinguished Service Order in 1999.

Mr Ngiam returned to serve his alma mater as Pro-Chancellor from 1999 to 2019, and as an Adjunct Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS from 2005 to 2017. He also contributed to the NUS Centennial celebrations, as Chairman of the NUS Centennial Campaign Advisory Board in 2003.

In 2019, NUS bestowed upon Mr Ngiam the prestigious NUS Eminent Alumni Award in recognition of his stalwart commitment to public service, his invaluable and impactful contributions to Singapore’s economy, as well as his steadfast support of education.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our former NUS Pro-Chancellor and eminent alumnus Mr Ngiam Tong Dow. He spent many tireless years serving NUS as an educator and adviser, and we have greatly benefitted from his wisdom and deep insights. A strong advocate of NUS, Mr Ngiam presided over numerous Commencement ceremonies and was a familiar face at many of our events. The loss will be keenly felt not just by the University, but by the whole of Singapore," said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye.