Mr Lee Kuan Yew had a vision for education

The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was an exceptional man. And it hit home just how much he means to all Singaporeans when I went to pay my respects to him at Parliament House yesterday afternoon.

As he lay peacefully in state, thousands of Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans from all walks of life streamed in to bid him farewell, some having queued for hours in the hot sun. I felt the depth of their grief and was reminded of NTU’s solemn memorial ceremony at the Nanyang Auditorium on Wednesday, 25 March, three days after his passing, where I shared these words:

Today, we honour Mr Lee and his legacy. And it’s rewarding to see so many that have joined in for this. In less than 50 years, he and Singapore’s pioneer leaders remarkably transformed an impoverished island with no resources and a population of 2 million who were mostly illiterate or lowly educated, to a modern city-state of 5.5 million people with the living standards of First World countries.

prez2Signing the condolence book.

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Relax, don’t cram

Hello, everyone! First things first, here’s wishing you a Happy “Goat” Xi Fa Cai. Do excuse the bad pun, just wishing everyone a happy and good Year of the Sheep! It’s a new year and a new start – our chance to do better, keep our heads up and move ahead.

One of the biggest lessons I learnt at the School of Art, Design & Media (ADM) last semester is don’t cram all your studio modules into one semester. You will NEVER have the time to finish all of them. So a heads-up to my ADM juniors! 😀 But apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed the last semester, especially my Applied Drawing and Art History classes. They made learning all the more interesting.

During my lessons in Applied Drawing, we were taught to notice the smaller details and capture what we see in a different way. For example, sometimes when we draw an object, it can look a little weird. Try a different approach by drawing the “negative” shapes instead. By doing so, we capture the forms around the area, rather than just focusing on the object itself – another way to achieve the end goal. Continue reading

Something happened in year three

We cupped our ears and squinted our eyes; the horrendous din was reminiscent of a ghoulish scene from Dante’s Inferno

That’s what it felt like as my friends and I returned to NTU to do some admin work after our graduation in August. We looked at the freshmen in their camps and had this moment of sage-like wisdom: “Ah freshmen, how little they know…” Then it dawned on us: four years ago we were in those same freshmen camps.

Something happens as you transition from being a freshman to a sophomore (year two) then a junior (year three) and finally a senior student (year four).

Suddenly, what used to fascinate you as freshman or sophomore doesn’t intrigue you anymore. Other things become more interesting and you find that freshmen start to look at you like some wise, old person. Secretly, behind your wizened demeanour, you marvel at how they can stay up till 4am and not be absolutely burned out the next day. You are amazed at how they can shout and scream and run and still have so much energy. You are amazed at the muscle-ripping figures they have, and wonder whether you ever looked that ripped in your prime. Don’t look as if you don’t know what I mean (especially the guys)! By year three or four you probably started building a tummy pillow around your waist, which I’ve always had. Well, at least I maintained the rest of my figure.

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From undergrad to full prof

OAS Academic Council Meeting n Professor Installation Ceremony 075pa
This is an excerpt of a speech I delivered at NTU’s Academic Council Meeting on 28 August 2014, where I was installed as a full professor.

In 1992, a shy young man walked into Lecture Theatre 1 for his first lesson at NTU. After running around in the jungle with his M16 rifle for two and a half years, he wondered if he could cope with his studies as an engineering freshman. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in life then. Well, that young man was me.

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NTU President gives his thoughts on university education

Convocation

I have been in Singapore for seven years and there’s one thing that never fails to amaze me. Singaporeans are passionate about education, especially the education of their children. That’s a good thing. Singaporeans should be happy that they are well served by an education system that is simply world-class.

As I am a beneficiary of education myself, I believe in and appreciate the value of education. I’m the only one among my relatives with a degree. When I was young, my parents never encouraged me to study. I did it myself.

Singaporeans should be proud to have two world ranked universities here, NTU and NUS. I am asked everywhere I go at various international conferences the reasons for NTU’s rapid growth. It is precisely because of the Singapore Government’s belief and investment in universities that a young university like NTU can make big leaps internationally in such a short time.  Continue reading