Bursary fund for needy NTU dragon boaters included in digital time capsule to mark school's 30th anniversary

(From left) NTU alumnus Xie Jiaqi, Cathy and Victor Loh, NTU alumnus Alex Loh, and Celine Chee, part of the university team to help set up the fund. PHOTO: NANYANG TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY

SINGAPORE - To honour two of their former teammates who died in the 2007 dragon boat tragedy in Cambodia, pilot Alex Loh Kar Meng, 47, and Mr Xie Jiaqi, 38, director of a wholesale food distribution company, decided to set up a bursary in their name.

Together with other alumni from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), they rallied different groups and relayed the idea to the varsity.

The Poh Boon San and Stephen Loh Soon Ann NTU Dragon Boat Endowed Bursary Fund was launched in 2008 and it is aimed towards helping students in the university dragon boat team who need financial aid.

Former NTU dragon boat team members Poh Boon San and Stephen Loh were among five members of the Singapore dragon boat team who died after their boat collided with a tugboat moored to a pontoon in Cambodia's Tonle Sap river and overturned.

The fund's launch in 2008 was one of 30 key moments in NTU's history that was added to a digital time capsule to mark its 30th anniversary on Thursday (Dec 9).

Since its launch, the fund has helped 38 NTU students who have been in need of financial aid.

On Thursday, NTU also launched a public exhibition and commemorative book to celebrate its milestone.

Titled Thirty Years of Momentum, 30 Perspectives, the book shares insights and reflections from individuals who have been a part of NTU's journey, and highlights the achievements of its community.

Guest-of-honour, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, noted that NTU had only five schools when it was established in 1991, teaching accountancy and business, applied science and the various engineering disciplines.

Today, NTU has expanded to five major colleges, 13 schools and five autonomous institutes, he said, and developed expertise in diverse fields including maritime studies, sports science and fine arts.

Moving forward, he urged the university to become a focal point and catalyst for the growth and development of the Jurong Innovation District (JID).

NTU's strengths in education, research, and innovation makes it well-positioned to anchor new industries such as precision medicine in JID, he added.

Mr Chan said NTU should also serve as a hub for South-east Asia's 600-million strong talent pool, and
as a bridge for global connections.

Mr Stephen Loh's parents, Victor, 78, and Cathy, 73, were happy that the bursary launch was in the time capsule, and that the legacy of their son and Poh Boon San would live on. "We were in deep grief when the accident happened, but we hope this bursary fund will help future generations excel in the sport."

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