Rising above the call of duty in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges since the virus swept across the world three years ago – from the first positive cases, to the mobilisation of healthcare resources, the disruptions to daily life, economic and social activities, and the eventual roll-out of vaccines.
Facing up courageously to the global health crisis, many members of the NUS family went above and beyond the call of duty to protect Singapore, and the University’s community in its fight against the virus.
These individuals, along with organisations that made a significant impact in the battle, were among those honoured with the National Awards (COVID-19) by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for their outstanding contributions.
“Our heartiest congratulations to the NUS recipients of the National Awards (COVID-19). We celebrate the national recognition of our deserving colleagues, as well as the efforts of the many unsung heroes in the university community who contributed to Singapore’s and NUS’ fight against the COVID-19 virus,” said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye.
“To the many in NUS who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic years to ensure the safety of our students, staff, and the wider Singapore community, we send our deepest appreciation. We salute your selfless commitment and service to the University and country,” he added.
The Meritorious Service Medal (COVID-19)
Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Director of Medical Services and its Chief Medical Advisor, was one of three recipients conferred the top award, the Meritorious Service Medal (COVID-19), for “demonstrating unwavering commitment and exemplary leadership in coordinating Singapore’s response to the pandemic,” according to PMO.
A familiar face at the COVID-19 Multi-Ministry Taskforce press conferences, he guided the taskforce and government agencies in crafting the overall strategy for managing the outbreak and oversaw the public health response to combating the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Assoc Prof Mak is a Duke-NUS Governing Board Member and an alumnus of NUS Medicine.
The Public Service Star (COVID-19)
Several members of the NUS community received the second-highest award, The Public Service Star (COVID-19), for leading major efforts that significantly managed the impact of COVID-19.
They were Mr Janadas Devan, Chief of Government Communications at the Ministry of Communications and Information and Director of the Institute of Policy Studies at NUS; Dr Fidah Alsagoff, Temasek International's Joint Head of Enterprise Development Group (Singapore) and Head of Life Sciences, also a Duke-NUS Governing Board Member; and Prof Fong Kok Yong, who received it in his capacity as Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer (Medical and Clinical Services) at SingHealth. Prof Fong is a fellow Duke-NUS Governing Board Member.
Other recipients were Adjunct Prof Vernon Lee Jian Ming, Senior Director (Communicable Diseases Division) at MOH, who is from the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health; Adjunct Prof Leo Yee Sin, Executive Director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, who is also from the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health; and Prof Ivy Ng Swee Lian, SingHealth’s Group Chief Executive Officer and Duke-NUS Governing Board Member.
Prof Benjamin Ong Kian Chung received the award for his role as Senior Advisor to MOH for the COVID-19 Pandemic and was NUS’ Senior Vice President (Health Education & Resources). He is also a Senior Consultant in the Division of Neurology at the National University Hospital and Chairman of the Health Sciences Authority.
Rounding up the recipients in this category are Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, MOH’s Chief Health Scientist and Executive Director at its Office for Healthcare Transformation; and Prof Yeoh Khay Guan, Chief Executive Officer of the National University Health System and Senior Consultant in the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the National University Hospital. Prof Tan, a former President of NUS, is University Professor and Senior Advisor to the President, while Prof Yeoh is NUS’ Senior Vice President (Health Affairs).
The Public Administration Medal (Gold) (COVID-19)
Recipients of this medal among members of the NUS community include:
President’s Certificate of Commendation (COVID-19)
NUS also received accolades with the President’s Certificate of Commendation (COVID-19) which honours organisations for their exceptional efforts in the nation’s COVID-19 battle.
It was among the more than 20 organisations recognised with the certificate for having served as one of Singapore’s COVID-19 Isolation and Accommodation Facilities. As part of the national effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the University’s Prince George’s Park Residences was converted to a Community Recovery Facility in 2020.
The NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health’s Biostatistics and Modelling Domain, and the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies also received nods under this category.
The team awards were a testament to the collaborative effort of many others in the NUS community whose various contributions helped Singapore overcome the crisis.
Students and staff had found different ways to play their part, from joining healthcare workers in the frontlines or offering their knowledge and expertise, to pivoting quickly to move lessons online so that learning could continue. Others rallied together to help those in need, such as rendering translation services to medical teams treating migrant workers or providing relief to them in the form of e-lessons and exercise videos as they isolated. Some even took to Zoom to engage remotely with nursing home residents when visits were suspended.
Aside from the National Awards (COVID-19), the COVID-19 Resilience Medal and Certificate will also pay tribute to the many thousands whose contributions helped the nation get back on its feet. Recipients will be announced at a later date.
See the full list of National Awards (COVID-19) recipients here.
Updated as of 6 Jan 2023