Honouring five outstanding alumni from Arts and Social Sciences

Five exceptional NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) alumni from diverse backgrounds were lauded at the annual FASS Distinguished Arts and Social Sciences Alumni Awards 2020 in a simple presentation ceremony on 30 April at Swissotel The Stamford.

All have left their distinct mark in the wide-ranging fields that they serve. They are namely:

  • Mr Yatiman Yusof (Geography and Malay Studies, ’72), Non-Resident High Commissioner of Singapore to Kenya
  • Mr Niam Chiang Meng (Economics, ’83), Chairman of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)
  • Ms Lim Sau Hoong (Chinese Studies, ’83), Founder, Former CEO and Executive Creative Director of advertising agency 10AM Communications
  • Mr Ravi Menon (Economics, ’87), Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
  • Dr Liang Wern Fook (Chinese Studies, ’89 and Master of Arts, ’92), Writer, musician and educator

Congratulating the award recipients, FASS Dean Professor Robbie Goh said, “Ms Lim Sau Hoong, Dr Liang Wern Fook, Mr Ravi Menon, Mr Niam Chiang Meng and Mr Yatiman Yusof, have made singular contributions to the arts, education, media, finance, policy and community development. Not only do their wide-ranging achievements bring pride to the FASS family, but I believe that it also attests to the disciplinary range, intellectual curiosity and critical thinking that are the hallmarks of the FASS educational experience.”

This disciplinary diversity, Prof Goh elaborated, would soon be enhanced by FASS’ partnership with the NUS Faculty of Science in the NUS College of Humanities and Sciences (CHS) where students would be able to choose any major that is offered by both faculties. He added that this would be a major boost to FASS students’ educational experience as “the CHS common curriculum will prepare students for a disruptive world – by giving them a compulsory grounding in essential skills such as writing and communication, data literacy, digital literacy, design thinking and AI.”

Our alumni and their contributions

A teacher and a journalist early on in his career, Mr Yatiman served key government appointments including as a Member of Parliament and Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the then-Ministry of Information and the Arts, before his retirement in 2006. In addition to being Singapore’s non-resident envoy to Kenya, Mr Yatiman is a Board Member of the Singapore Press Holdings Foundation and the Chairman of the Malay Language Council of Advisors.

Contributing extensively to the public sector too was Mr Niam who served in the Ministries of Finance, Trade and Industry, Health, Law, and Information, Communications and the Arts – including Permanent Secretary appointments in several of these Ministries. He also served at the National Population and Talent Division, and the National Climate Change Secretariat. Aside from his current MPA chairmanship, Mr Niam is also the Chairman of Gardens by the Bay Pte Ltd and MediaCorp Pte Ltd.

A heavyweight in the media, marketing, and advertising industry, Ms Lim’s creative leadership of 10AM Communications has garnered over 300 prestigious global awards including The One Show, the Clio Awards, and the Communication Arts. Identified for her unique creative talent, Ms Lim was Visual Advisor to the Planning Committee for the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ Opening Ceremony and headed the Shanghai World Expo 2010 Singapore Pavilion Advisory Panel. In 2007, Ms Lim was awarded the President’s Design Award and was named Designer of The Year for her extensive contributions to media, marketing and culture in Singapore.

Prior to his appointment at MAS, Mr Menon served as Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Finance. A recipient of the Singapore Government’s Meritorious Service Medal and Public Administration (Gold) Medal, he has served on boards in the public, private, and people sectors. He is currently Chairman of the Institute of Banking and Finance, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Singapore Indian Development Association.

A singer-songwriter, poet and academic in Chinese literature and language, Dr Liang is a respected cultural figure and pioneer of Xinyao – a movement of locally composed Mandarin pop songs from the 1980s. To date, Dr Liang is the only artist who has received the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award (Literature) and the prestigious Cultural Medallion (Music) across different art genres. He was also honoured recently with the Singapore Chinese Cultural Contribution Award for his outstanding contribution to the promotion, enrichment and development of Chinese Singaporean culture. His canon of work includes over 15 publications of literature, more than 200 songs, and two Mandarin musicals – a number of his most important works were written and composed during his university days.

On receiving the awards

Also present at the event was NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye who presented the awards to the five alumni. Invited guests were also treated to videos of the award recipients who shared about their university days in FASS and their career highlights.

Recalling the moment he received news of the award, Mr Yatiman humbly shared, “To be frank, I’m quite surprised when I was told about it. And I thought there are hundreds, if not thousands of people who are more suitable to receive this award. I’m just a small worker in the community, not doing much in my lifetime. I think there are many others. So, for those who’ve been working hard for the good of the community, I take this award as recognition of their effort too.”

Mr Niam recalled some of his best memories were during university days where he learnt a lot about networking and life skills. It was also where he found his life partner. He said, “It is a privilege to be given this award. I would like to thank NUS and the organising committee for bestowing this honour on me and the other recipients…it means a great deal.”

Established in 2015, the Awards recognise individuals for their distinguished scholarship and outstanding service to the Faculty, the University and Singapore. These outstanding recipients have made significant impact in various fields locally and internationally, which has contributed to the betterment and promotion of the arts and social sciences.

Previous recipients of the Awards include luminaries such as former President Mr S R Nathan, Emeritus Senior Minister and former Prime Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong, former United Nations Under-Secretary General Dr Noeleen Heyzer; Permanent Member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights Mr Abdullah Tarmugi; and Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings Limited Mr Ho Kwon Ping.

Click here for more details on this year’s award recipients.