Student centre at SIT's Punggol campus to bear benefactor's name

When the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) opens its permanent campus in Punggol in about two years' time, one of its student centres will bear the name of property magnate Chua Thian Poh.

Mr Chua, the founder of property development and investment firm Ho Bee Land and a benefactor of SIT for nearly 10 years, has given the university $2.6 million to support the development of its new campus and to fund a new bursary.

To be called the Chua Thian Poh Discovery Hub, the centre will occupy two floors in the east zone of SIT's Punggol campus, which is scheduled to open in 2024. Education Minister Chan Chun Sing was the guest of honour at a naming ceremony held at SIT's temporary campus in Dover yesterday.

Mr Chua was accompanied by his wife and son Nicholas Chua, Ho Bee Land's chief executive, at the event, which included a lion dance performance ahead of Chinese New Year next week.

Mr Chan recounted how Mr Chua's relationship with SIT began about 10 years ago, when he decided to pay for the education of a student whose father had died in a car accident.

Private support for Singapore's educational institution through finances, as well as "donating" time and talent, is important, the minister said. Mr Chan said: "The Ho Bee group has donated generously to SIT over the years, such as supporting SIT's future campus in Punggol and the Ho Bee Scholarship."

He added: "We are glad for many examples of Singaporeans like Mr Chua, who share the conviction of paying it forward and supporting social mobility."

Mr Chan also noted that applied learning institutions such as SIT play an important role in closing the gap between academia and the workforce, which is critical for Singapore to remain economically competitive by constantly upgrading its workforce.

Mr Chua's endowed gift will see six students receive $5,000 under the Chua Thian Poh Bursary each year. Bursaries will be given to students who have a monthly household income of less than $1,500 per person.

In 2019, Mr Chua's company donated $3.25 million to SIT. The money went towards the development of the future campus as well as the establishment of the Ho Bee Scholarship.

Third-year electrical power engineering student Joshua Chew received this scholarship in November last year. The 27-year-old said: "My father recently retired, so it is really important to me to be able to pay for things myself, and the scholarship meant that I could spend less time working during the school term."

This freed up his time to focus on both his studies and his hobbies, which include dance, he told The Straits Times.

 

"But more than the practical help, the scholarship also gave me a lot of confidence and affirmation, especially because I always considered my grades quite average and didn't expect to get it."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2022, with the headline Student centre at SIT's Punggol campus to bear benefactor's name. Subscribe