10 famous people who graduated from ITE or polytechnics

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat announced at a press conference on Aug 25 measures that would see graduates from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and polytechnics getting more career options, guidance and direction.

This development is among 10 key recommendations made by the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (Aspire) committee.

Both educational institutions have evolved greatly over the years, with many graduates going on to make a name for themselves in their chosen fields. Here are 10 such illustrious graduates: 

1. Sim Wong Hoo, 59 

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Sim Wong Hoo and his company Creative Technology are best known for blazing a trail in the portable music player industry.

The technopreneur has received numerous industry and government awards for his innovations, and in 2012, his company released the HanZpad, a tablet computer aimed at the Chinese market

Mr Sim's grounding in electronics came from his time in Ngee Ann Polytechnic - back then known as Ngee Ann Technical College - where he graduated with a diploma in Electrical and Electronics Engineering in 1975.

2. Anthony Chen, 30

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At 30, an age where most are still finding their feet in their career, Singaporean director Anthony Chen is already a successful film-maker.

His debut feature film Ilo Ilo was released in 2013 to international critical acclaim, winning the prestigious Camera d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and earning him the coveted 50th Golden Horse Award for Best Feature Film and Best New Director.

Chen's passion for film stretched back to his days in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, where in 2004 he graduated with a diploma in Film, Sound & Video.

3. Fandi Ahmad, 51

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Fandi Ahmad, almost unbeatable on the pitch at the height of his career, is Singapore's most famous footballer, and maybe even sports personality.

His playing career took him to clubs in countries such as Indonesia and Holland, and he is currently the head coach of the LionsXII squad.

Before he became a full-time football player, Fandi studied at the Singapore Vocational Institute, which is what the ITE used to be called. He earned a National Trade Certificate 3 qualification.

4. Vincent Ng, 39 

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Vincent Ng and wushu, a sport based on traditional Chinese martial arts, are synonymous.

The former Mediacorp actor has won numerous gold medals in local and international wushu competitions, and is currently teaching at Wufang Singapore, a local wushu school he founded.

He graduated from the Jurong Vocational Institute, now known as ITE West (Bukit Batok), in 1993 with a National Technical Certificate Grade 2 Engineering, and often credits his success in wushu to his ITE teachers encouraging him to pursue his interests.

5. Royston Tan, 37

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Known for his raw, and sometimes gritty, movies such as 15 or 4:30, film-maker Royston Tan is one of the most promising talents in the local film industry.

In total, his films have garnered more than 40 international and local film awards, with screenings at various international film festivals.

He graduated from Temasek Polytechnic in 1997 with a diploma in Visual Communications, and even back then his talent was obvious, winning accolades such as the National Panasonic Video Award in 1996.

6. Tanya Chua, 39

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The voice behind hit National Day Parade song Where I Belong, Tanya Chua is an artiste well-known in Singapore and the region, with multiple albums in both English and Mandarin.

A self-taught guitarist, she is the only female singer to have been awarded Best Mandarin Female Singer on three separate occasions at Taiwan's annual Golden Melody Awards.

Before she achieved music stardom, she studied at Singapore Polytechnic, graduating in 1996 with a diploma in Business Administration.

7. Lawrence Leow, 56

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Lawrence Leow is the executive chairman of the Crescendas Group, a multi-industry business group with interests in markets such as property or logistics. 

This is just one feather in the cap of this multi-talented man, who is also a member of various committees and boards such as  the Singapore Business Federation. 

A former Nominated Member of Parliament, Mr Leow graduated from Singapore Polytechnic in 1978 with a diploma in Mechanical Engineering.

8. Lee Li Lian, 35

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A member of the Workers' Party (WP), Ms Lee Li Lian is the Member of Parliament for Punggol East SMC (Single Member Constituency) after winning the seat in the 2013 Punggol East by-election.

She had previously held jobs in the sales and finance industries. Her foray into politics began in 2006 when she first volunteered with WP.

She is an alumna of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, graduating in 1999 with a diploma in Business Studies.

9. Alan Tam, 64

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Fans of Cantopop will definitely recognise the name - Alan Tam is a true legend of the Hong Kong entertainment scene.

Tam, who is also an actor, has over a hundred albums to his name and is best known for his romantic ballads such as Half Dazed, Half Awoken and Love In Autumn.

Perhaps more surprising is that Tam attended Ngee Ann Polytechnic, then-known as Ngee Ann Technical College. 

10. Hady Mirza, 34

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Hady Mirza won the second season of local reality show Singapore Idol in 2006, and went on the following year to win Asian Idol, the contest which pit idol winners in the region.

These achievements set the stage for his career in entertainment, where he has released two albums and won various music industry awards .

Known for his smooth R&B voice, Mirza has recently stepped back from the spotlight focus on FRHM Youth, an organisation that promotes Muslim education and way of life among youths.

The soulful crooner graduated from Temasek Polytechnic in 2000 with a diploma in Product Engineering.