Goh Keng Swee Foundation donates $1.85m to needy students on his 11th death anniversary

Director of the Goh Keng Swee Foundation Wong Kok Hoi (middle) presenting the cheques to key representatives of the four communities in Singapore. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - To commemorate the 11th death anniversary of former deputy prime minister Goh Keng Swee on May 14, the foundation set up in his name has donated a total of $1.85m to financially disadvantaged students from Singapore's four communities and needy medical students at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The Goh Keng Swee Foundation was set up by his wife, Dr Phua Swee Liang, in 2008, with the aim of encouraging the values of her late husband.

She said: "One of the objectives of the Goh Keng Swee Foundation is to continue in some small way Keng Swee's aspiration to improve the lot of the less privileged and the needy in society.

"Throughout his tenure in political office, Keng Swee had a firm conviction that education is the only way to uplift the quality of life for these people."

During his 25 years in politics, Dr Goh was instrumental in the development of Singapore.

He held several cabinet appointments, including deputy prime minister, and helmed the finance, defence and education portfolios.

In 1981, Dr Goh set up the Government Investment Corporation, with plans to protect the country's reserves from any unprecedented economic crisis.

He also played an important role in numerous national projects, including the move to make conscription mandatory for young men under National Service; the transformation of Jurong into Singapore's first industrial estate in 1959; and the establishment of the Economic Development Board in 1961.

Of the funds donated, $1.2m was gifted to the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in support of financially disadvantaged medical students.

On this donation, Dr Phua said: "In his dealings with people, Dr Goh made no distinction between race, religion, gender, wealth or power, provided people were genuine and decent.

"His compassion and thoughtfulness towards people have always moved me, and it is my hope that recipients of this bursary will embody the same attitude towards their patients and those around them."

The foundation has also been a longstanding donor to the NUS Medical Society - Christine Chong Hui Xian Bursary, which was set up in 2011 and has helped close to 70 medical students since its inception.

Thanking the foundation for the gift, Professor Chong Yap Seng, dean of NUS Medicine, said: "We are deeply honoured and grateful for this gift from Dr Phua and the foundation.

"One in six of our medical undergraduates needs financial assistance, and this gift from the foundation will be invaluable in alleviating their financial worries, allowing them to fully experience the benefits of a comprehensive medical education and contribute to the greater community as students."

Another $650,000 was given to self-help groups Chinese Development Assistance Council, Yayasan Mendaki, the Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) and the Eurasian Association.

In this photo from 1962, Dr Goh Keng Swee (left) and Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew are awaiting the results of the referendum polls at the Singapore Badminton Hall counting centre. PHOTO: ST FILE

On the gift, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is chairman of the Sinda Board of Trustees, said: "It pays tribute to Dr Goh's pioneering work in building an inclusive and meritocratic society - one where Singaporeans have equal access to opportunities and can lead fulfilling lives.

It also reflects the collective spirit that must shape a better and stronger Singapore society, where we continue to support the less advantaged and build shared aspirations."

The foundation added in a statement on Friday that the Board has also decided the Goh Keng Swee Foundation will be brought to a close in due time, as Dr Phua and two other directors are "getting on in years".

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