A visual post on government scholars.
Includes relatives, scandals, and quotable quotes.
References below. This post is presented in 6 sections.
INTRO: Excerpts on Singapore scholarships
PART 1: Ministers’ Children and/or Government Relatives (Scholars)
PART 2: Scholar Scandals
PART 3: Foreign-Born Scholars in Government or Civil Service
PART 4: Reader Tip on Foreign-Born Scholars
PART 5: Additional Info
UPDATE / 25 June 2019: Seet Li Lin, involved in the 1mdb scandal, was on a government scholarship at Wharton.
INTRO: EXCERPTS on SINGAPORE SCHOLARSHIPS
1) “Singapore’s science and technology agency A*Star [draws] on taxpayers’ money to offer scholarships. . .”
2) A government economic review panel recommended a target of 150,000 foreign-born students by 2012 — more than double the 2005 figure of 66,000.
Source: Rapid Growth in Singapore’s Immigrant Population (2012)
3) The typical profile of our scholars has changed. The vast majority of scholars come from very wealthy family backgrounds. . .for the rich, the prestigious scholarship is more like a trophy.”
Source: Mr Wang
4) In 2008, the PSC revealed that 47% of the PSC scholarship recipients that year lived in HDB flats, and 53% lived in private housing. This is an over representation of private housing as up to 85% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats.
Source: NCMP Yee Jenn Jong
5) In Barr and Skrbis’ book Constructing Singapore, they systemically outline the elite selection and formation process in Singapore. As Singaporeans move up the education system into secondary schools and junior colleges, the ‘scholars’ are continuously sorted from the ‘commoners’ and the would-be future elite are herded together into a small number of elite institutions. The best are offered the coveted Public Service Commission Scholarships, Singapore Armed Forces Scholarships and those at the top of the pyramid of public service would then be absorbed into the elite Administrative Service and made mandarins.
Ho Khai Leong [concedes] that the pervasive extent of state socialization has nurtured a cookie-cutter generation of leaders with relatively similar political outlook cut out from the same mould.
Source: Examining Meritocracy & Elitism in Singapore (Soh Yi Da; 2013)
6) Concerns have been raised among parliamentarians and members of the public that foreign students may be depriving Singaporeans of university places, and that taxpayers have to subsidize their fees.
Source: Asian Universities: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Challenges (2004)
7) “EACH YEAR ABOUT $360 MILLION IS SPENT ON FOREIGN STUDENTS. . .the PSC spends about $400,000 to send each scholarship recipient overseas.”
Source: Act for Singapore + AsiaOne
8) This is absurd. Government scholarships are funded by taxpayers’ money and should be channeled where it is needed most.
Source: Hsien-Hui Tong (2014)
9) These “foreign talent” students [are] “hand-picked” by the officials of Singapore’s Ministry of Education after being put through written tests and interviews.
Source: Privilege, Prejudice, Predicament: “PRC Scholars” in Singapore (Yang P., 2014)
10) Surely, as top-dollar ministers, these fathers should be going to their colleagues to say:
“Hey! Thank you for thinking so highly of my son. But I cannot accept this. Could we give it back so that we can give it to another candidate whose parents cannot afford to pay?”
An officer and gentleman would, in my view, say that.
Source: A Singaporean Says (re: ministers’ children getting government scholarships)
11) The PSC is vested with the disciplinary control of civil servants.
In 2012, 71 new disciplinary cases were reported to the PSC. Together with the 46 cases that were brought forward from the previous years, the PSC processed a total of 117 cases in the year.
The three main types of misconduct for cases completed in 2012 under the Regulations were Immoral Behaviour, Indebtedness and Theft/Robbery.
Source: PSC Annual Report (2012)
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PART 1: MINISTERS’ CHILDREN and/or GOV. RELATIVES
1. LEE HSIEN LOONG + Family Members = Scholars
Lee Hsien Loong was awarded the president’s scholarship in 1970 and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAFOS) scholarship in 1971. His brother Lee Hsien Yang, and his sister Lee Wei Ling were also President’s Scholars. His son, Li Hongyi, is a PSC Scholar.
His father, Lee Kuan Yew, was awarded an Anderson Scholarship to Raffles College, while his mother, Kwa Geok Choo, was a Queen’s Scholar. His wife, Ho Ching, was a President’s Scholar.
2. MAH BOW TAN + Son = Scholars
Mah Bow Tan was a former Colombo Plan Scholar and President’s Scholar.
According to John Harding’s website, Mah Bow Tan is the father of Warren Mah (who received an MAS scholarship to study overseas; funded by Singapore taxpayers).
A concerned netizen says:
Over his 19 years as Cabinet Minister, Singaporeans (and NOT the PAP) have paid $2m Minister Mah Bow Tan an estimated handsomely-humongous S$33 million in total salary/bonuses.
Despite above, he did not send his son Warren Mah to university on “Father’s Scholarship” (i.e. out of his own pocket) but managed to land him a Govt Scholarship (from Monetary Authority of Singapore) to study at the prestigious University of Pennslyvania in USA. The MAS scholarship is worth some S$300,000 — which again, by PAP standards, is merely “half a peanut.”
3. TONY TAN + Son = Scholars
Tony Tan was a recipient of the Singapore Government State Scholarship in 1959. Tony Tan has 3 sons: Patrick, Philip, and Peter.
Patrick Tan Boon Ooi is an Associate Director at A*Star’s Genome Institute. He was a recipient of the president’s scholarship and the Loke Cheng Kim scholarship in 1987. The Loke Cheng Kim scholarship is an overseas bond-free scholarship offered by a non-profit organisation.
4. TEO CHEE HEAN + Son = Scholars
Teo Chee Hean is the father of Teo Eng Siang. Teo Eng Siang received a PSC Overseas Merit Scholarship in 2005 to study International Relations and Philosophy at Brown University (scholarship funded by Singapore taxpayers). Brown University’s tuition fee for 2015-2016 is US$48,272 per annum.
A netizen says:
“Shameless Teo Chee Hean. He is a million dollar minister and his son gets a free scholarship fully paid for by Singaporeans. This is disgusting.”
— Alex Tan, 2012
5. PHILIP YEO + Son = Scholars
Gene Yeo is the son of former A*Star’s Chairman Philip Yeo. Philip Yeo was the sole recipient of a Fulbright scholarship in 1974.
Funded by the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Graduate Fellowship from Singapore, Gene Yeo earned a Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In 2007, A*Star wanted to sue a graduate student blogger for implying that the agency was corrupt.
The 25 year-old blogger alleged that A*Star “bribed universities to enrol its scholars, paid professors to accept scholars into their labs and suggested that its scholars enrol in universities with which it had ‘connections’ rather than the more expensive, top-notch ones.”
Source: Straits Times
6. DR. ALINE WONG’s Son = Scholar
Prof. Wong Tien Yin, a former President’s Scholar, is the son of former senior minister of state, Dr. Aline Wong.
7. GRACE FU’s Son = Scholar
Minister Grace Fu Hai Yien is the mother of Marcus Lee Jian Ying, an SAF Overseas Scholar.
8. BROTHERS of NG CHEE MENG = President’s Scholars
Ng Chee Meng, former Chief of Defence Force and PAP Candidate (2015), has two brothers: Ng Chee Peng (former Chief of Navy) and Ng Chee Khern (former Chief of Army). Ng Chee Peng and Ng Chee Khern were President’s Scholars.
9. TAY ENG SOON’s Daughter = Scholar
Late senior minister of state for education Tay Eng Soon is the father of Lucy Tay. Lucy Tay is a President’s Scholar. A 2007 article mentioned she was with MOE’s personnel department where she helped recruit teachers.
10. BROTHERS Teo Shiyi + Teo Tse Hsiang = President’s Scholars
Teo Shiyi was one of the four President’s Scholars in 2002. His elder brother Tse Hsiang was awarded the prestigious award in 1998. His mother, Teo Po Chu, was a director with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.
11. KO KHENG HWA + Daughter = President’s Scholars
Ko Kheng Hwa is a former President’s Scholar and former Director at Singapore Economic Development Board. His daughter, Stephanie Ko Qian Wen, received the president’s scholarship in 2007.
The Public Service Commission, which awards the scholarship, said Stephanie — from Hwa Chong Institution — is the first recipient to have a President’s Scholar as a parent.
13. SERGIUS WAT ZHIWEN + Brother = Scholars
Sergius Wat is a President’s Scholar and Singapore Police Force scholar. His older brother is a Singapore Armed Forces scholar.
12. SIM ANN + SIBLINGS = Scholars
According to a forum post, Sim Ann’s sister, Sim Min, was awarded a Monetary Authority of Singapore scholarship, while her brother Sim Kai was a President’s Scholar.
The above image from ST and Hwa Chong Institution’s President’s Scholars page lists Sim Ann and Sim Kai as recipients.
PM Lee Hsien Loong has known Sim Ann’s mother for 30 years.
A forum post has some details on Sim Ann’s grandfather being executed in the People’s Republic of China for treason. Will update this section if there’s more info on this in future.
The archive is still available in the China national archive.
Now Sim Ann, his granddaughter, is selling out Singaporeans — it should not be a surprise as it seems treason runs in their family blood line.
Sim Ann’s sister is Sim Min, 34, who was awarded a Monetary Authority of Singapore scholarship. Her brother Sim Kai, 31, is also a President’s Scholar.
Daughter of executed Prisoner PRC ID number (XD4429372J) – Choo Lian Liang
Father – Sim Hock Kee
This is a family of nation betrayers.
Former Minister of State for Education, Sim Ann, has avoided national issues, the problem of foreign scholarships, and the low intake of local graduates in Singapore universities.
14. WALTER WOON’s Twin Sons = Scholars
Alexander Joseph Woon Wei-Ming, the younger twin by 10 minutes, is a President’s Scholar. His fraternal twin brother Adrian Gerard Woon Wei-Xin is a PSC scholar. Their father is former Attorney-General Walter Woon, and their mother, Mrs Janis Woon, is a deputy registrar with the Family Court.
15. HENG SWEE KEAT + Wife = Scholars
Heng Swee Keat was a Singapore Police Force overseas scholar. His wife, Chang Hwee Nee, was a President’s Scholar. Chang is Deputy Secretary (Planning) at the Ministry of National Development.
16. DESMOND CHOO = Scholar
Desmond Choo, PAP Candidate for Tampines GRC (2015), was awarded the SPF Overseas Merit Scholarship in 1997 to study Economics at the University of Chicago.
His uncle is Choo Wee Khaing, a former MP who was charged with 3 counts of corruption in 2011.
17. YONG PUNG HOW’s Daughter = Scholar
Yong Ying-I is the daughter of former Chief Justice Yong Pung How, a close friend of LKY.
Yong Ying-I was an Overseas Merit Scholar.
18. LEE YOCK SUAN + Son = Scholars
Lee Yock Suan served in the PAP Cabinet from 1987 to 2004, and was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1980 to 2006. He was a President’s Scholar.
His son, Desmond Lee Ti-Seng, was elected to Parliament in 2011 as a PAP MP for the Jurong Group Representation Constituency and was made a Minister of State in 2013. Desmond was a Legal Service Commission Scholarship recipient.
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1. JONATHAN WONG WAI KEONG
Former Ministry of Education (MOE) scholar Jonathan Wong Wai Keong was sentenced to five years’ jail in 2012.
Wong was convicted for possession of child pornography in Britain in 2010.
Despite being caught in England for possessing child pornography, local media reported that Jonathan Wong taught in a secondary school after he returned to Singapore.
2. NG BOON GAY
Former Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) director Ng Boon Gay was charged in 2012 with four counts of sex-related corruption.
Ng was accused of corruptly obtaining sexual gratification from a female IT executive, Cecilia Sue Siew Nang, by assisting to further the business interests of her then employers Oracle Corporation Singapore and Hitachi Data Systems in dealings with CNB.
Ng recounted that there were at least 20-30 times he and Cecelia Sue were sexually intimate during their three-year relationship.
Ng was a PSC scholarship and Singapore Police Force Postgraduate Scholarship recipient.
A netizen comments:
The most worrying part to me [with Ng Boon Gay being acquitted in 2014] is that Shanmugam is setting a precedent now, by saying that even though there is plainly a conflict of interest, there is no corruption.
Source: Sam’s Alfresco
3. ALVIN TAN
Alvin Tan was an Asean scholar and had been on “leave of absence” from his classes for almost a year when he started uploading pornographic pictures and videos of himself and his girlfriend Vivian Lee on a blog titled “Sumptuous Erotica.”
An estimate shows that it may have cost the Singapore government — the benefactor of the Asean scholarship programme — at least RM275,000 (S$110,000) to fund all of Tan’s seven years of study in the city state.
The highly prestigious scholarship is awarded to only 170 undergraduates from nine Asean countries annually. It covers tuition fees, accommodation and also provides an allowance for the recipients.
4. CHUA REN CHENG
Teacher and former grassroots leader Chua Ren Cheng was a Head of Department in charge of selecting MOE scholars at the Ministry of Education. He is a former MOE scholar.
In 2012, he “confessed he was a sinner” and was charged for having commercial sex with an underage prostitute.
5. WEE SHU MIN
Wee Shu Min, a daughter of MP Wee Siew Kim, is notorious for deriding a Singaporean blogger for his views on the anxieties of Singapore workers. Miss Wee was on RJC’s Humanities Scholarship Programme.
In dismissing the blogger’s views in 2006, she wrote:
“Derek, Derek, Derek darling, how can you expect to have an iron rice bowl or a solid future if you cannot spell?
“There’s no point in lambasting the Government for making our society one that is, I quote, ‘far too survival of the fittest. . .’ If uncertainty of success offends you so much, you will certainly be poor and miserable.”
[She concluded by telling the blogger] to “get out of my elite uncaring face.”
6. ENG KAI ER
Eng Kai Er is an A*Star scientist who took up two scholarships.
She was fined $2,000 for walking naked through Holland Village with Swedish exchange student Jan Philip.
In 2014, she criticised her scholarship’s bond in a blog post and set up a “No Star Arts Grant” in protest, pledging to give $1,000 a month from her salary to support arts projects for a year.
7. OUYANG XIANGYU
Ouyang Xiangyu is originally from China. She was expected to complete her A*Star National Science Scholarship PhD studies by 2018 and return to Singapore to complete her bond.
In 2015, she was arrested and charged with poisoning her research classmates at Stanford University with a potent chemical that causes burning sensations in the mouth and throat.
8. EISEN TEO
In 2014, former Straits Times journalist and SPH scholar Eisen Teo was sentenced to 1.5 years in jail for two charges of having sex and oral sex with an underage girl.
According to the Statement of Facts, presented in court by Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong, Teo first took special interest in the teenage girl when he learned from reading her blog that she was “clinically depressed, suffering from insomnia and was being bullied in school.”
Comments by netizens:
1) Why did the judge give [Eisen Teo] such a light sentence?? He is a scholar, shame on him to prey on young girls. He planned his move, told lies, to take advantage of her. A scholar with low morals and integrity. Hope the girl is on the road to recovery. I hope his wife divorces him. Fancy his wife baking in the kitchen and he is so bold to have sex with another girl in the room.
(– Mavis Teo)
2) Most scholars produced in the Singapore system are like this: narcissistic and incapable of human understanding.
9. ONG TECK CHIN
Ong Teck Chin is a Rhodes scholar and former ACS(I) principal. He resigned after an investigating panel stated he had “behaved inappropriately towards a male teacher.”
ACS’s stated aim is to have every student be ‘A Scholar, an Officer and a Gentleman.’
Apparently a biology teacher in his 30’s contacted The Straits Times and alleged the principal had “behaved inappropriately” towards him.
Ong had reduced his teaching duties and created a new position as his de facto personal aide, jetting off together on overseas trips to recruit foreign scholars. Yes, the foreigners competing with your ward for a place in the school are proactively sought and groomed by the principal. With the blessings of MOE. Paid out of your income taxes.
Source: Singapore Desk
10. LIM HWEE HUA
Lim Hwee Hua, a PSC Overseas Merit Scholarship holder, was Singapore’s first female Minister and Second Minister for Finance and Transport in 2009.
Before she was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister, Lim was Temasek Holdings’ managing director of strategic relations. She quit politics in 2011.
From John Harding’s website [John Harding was the former Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Singapore’s Inland Revenue Department (IRAS)]:
Here is the BIG CONNECTION with the Singapore Government that is making it all happen. Andy Lim’s wife is Lim Hwee Hua (former minister). Lim Hwee Hua was making nearly four times as much as President Obama, but this is not enough for the crooked lady. She has set up her husband, Andy, to run a scam investment company, where, as an investor, you can get residence in Singapore.
11. ENG HENG CHIAW
Eng Heng Chiaw was a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) scholar.
Eng was accused of making a S$500,000 bribe offer to an executive of Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency, Sin Boon Wah, in exchange for information on tender bids in a defence ministry contract for the naval helicopters.
He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 56 days imprisonment on 15 Apr 2005.
12. SUN XU
Sun Xu was an NUS PRC scholar. Each NUS undergraduate scholarship, which covers school fees and accommodation, is worth between $18,000 and $25,000 annually.
Sun was fined $3,000 for making “improper, insensitive and disrespectful” remarks.
He had written: “The most annoying thing in Singapore are those ‘uncles’ who stare at you, or complain endlessly when you accidentally brush past them. . .[there are] more dogs than humans in Singapore.”
13. CHAN WEI KIAT
Chan Wei Kiat was a captain with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and an RSN scholar.
In 2012, he was sentenced to 11 weeks’ jail for having paid sex with an underage prostitute.
14. PETER LIM
Peter Lim was the Commissioner of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and a former Public Service Commission overseas scholarship recipient.
In 2013, Lim was convicted for corruptly obtaining sexual gratification from a female employee of Nimrod in exchange for furthering the company’s business interests with the SCDF.
The judge noted that as the highest-ranked officer of SCDF, Lim was expected to lead by example and “displayed unimpeachable conduct,” adding that his actions brought “embarrassment to the public service” and loss of reputation to the SCDF.
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PART 3: FOREIGN-BORN SCHOLARS in Government or Civil Service
1. KHAW BOON WAN
MP and PAP Chairman Khaw Boon Wan was born on 8 December 1952 in Penang, Malaysia. He studied in the University of Newcastle, Australia under the Singapore Government Colombo Plan Scholarship.
In 2002, Khaw Boon Wan was said to live by the principle of a Chinese Buddhist saying:
“Be always mindful of those who have brought you benefits, and remember to reciprocrate.”
It seems that netizens think otherwise of Mr. Khaw.
2. TAN ZHONGSHAN
Ipoh-born Tan Zhongshan was awarded an Asean scholarship by Singapore’s Ministry of Education after completing his A-Levels at Temasek Junior College. After his studies at Cambridge University, he returned to Singapore to join its Legal Service commission.
As of Aug 2015, Tan Zhongshan is a State Counsel / DPP in the Financial and Technology Crime Division of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
The Singapore Legal Service is the collective body of lawyers (Legal Service Officers) who serve in the courts, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, and the legal departments of various government ministries and statutory boards in Singapore. It controls the appointment, dismissal, and disciplinary action of members of the Service.
3. LIU CHEN
Former RJC student Liu Chen moved to Singapore from Shandong, China, in 1997 with her mother and father. She became a Singapore citizen in 2005 and received a President’s Scholarship to study economics at the University of Chicago.
At the time of this posting, Liu Chen is Head of the Sectoral Manpower Unit, Manpower Policy and Planning Division at the Ministry of Manpower (LinkedIn and Gov.sg).
4. MAUNG THET NAING WIN
Myanmar-born Maung Thet Naing Win was the recipient of the prestigious SAF Overseas Scholarship (Safos) in 2013. He became a new citizen in 2008.
The scholarship is given to only a handful of top students each year. Notable past recipients include Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, DPM and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean, and Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.
SAFOS scholars are groomed for the highest levels of command and management in the SAF and beyond.
- NOTE: This post takes a look at the PAP government’s close historical ties with Burmese leaders.
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PART 4: READER TIP on FOREIGN SCHOLARS
If you go to the A*Star web site, plenty of the scholars are foreign-born — India, China, Vietnam, Malaysia.
This is a small selection of foreign-born scholars.
1) Dr. Wei Fengxia (born in Shandong, China / A*Star scholar)
2) Neil Huynh Hoai Nguyen (born in Vietnam / A*Star scholar)
3) Ng Jie Qi (born in Selangor, Malaysia / MOE scholar)
4) Vijay Raj Singh (born in India / NTU scholar)
5) Xiao Yifei (born in China / President’s scholar and RJC alumnus; was holding dual citizenship when she got her scholarship)
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These individuals are not scholars — interesting info nonetheless.
1. DANNY SOO EE HOCK
Danny Soo Ee Hock was a former grassroots leader who took upskirt photos of women. He was stripped of a National Day medal given to him in 2010.
The odd thing was that Danny Soo was arrested in July 2009 and awarded the PBM in 2010. Guess no one informed the award committee.
Source: MrBrown / CNN
2. CHRISTOPHER LIM CHAI MENG and KOH SEAH WEE
Christopher Lim Chai Meng and his superior Koh Seah Wee (a deputy director at the Singapore Land Authority) were convicted in 2010 for their roles in cheating Singapore government agencies of S$12.5 million.
Lim pleaded guilty to 49 counts including money laundering. They allegedly used the money to buy apartments and cars including a S$1.6 million limited-edition Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV and a Ferrari F430.
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