PEOPLE

Historian wins international acclaim and weds teacher

Dr Ernest Chew was 22 years old when he married teacher Aileen Gay at the Bethesda Chapel in Frankel Estate. Now 72, they have three children: Alistair, Emrys and Alethea.
Dr Ernest Chew was 22 years old when he married teacher Aileen Gay at the Bethesda Chapel in Frankel Estate. Now 72, they have three children: Alistair, Emrys and Alethea.ST FILE PHOTO

Historian Ernest Chew was in the news this week in 1965 when he married teacher Aileen Gay at the Bethesda Chapel in Frankel Estate.

He was 22 and had gained international acclaim less than a week earlier by winning the Holland Rose studentship to work on his PhD in Cambridge University.

A former Anglo-Chinese School student, he beat applicants from several British and Commonwealth universities to land the award, founded by a former Cambridge professor to support the study of recent history and present problems of the British Empire and the Commonwealth.

He had graduated with first-class honours in history from the University of Singapore the year before.

After receiving his PhD in Indian History in 1970, Dr Chew joined the University of Singapore as a lecturer. When the National University of Singapore was established in 1980, he became head of the History department, and then dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, a post he relinquished in 1997. He remained an associate professor there until 2009.

He chaired several history-related government committees and was awarded the Public Service Medal in 1994.

He and his wife have three children: Alistair, Emrys and Alethea. Their second son, Dr Emrys Chew, followed in his footsteps and became a history professor.

Dr Ernest Chew, now 72, is the nephew of the late Dr Goh Keng Swee, Singapore's former deputy prime minister.

Jennani Durai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 02, 2015, with the headline 'Historian wins international acclaim and weds teacher'. Print Edition | Subscribe