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         Commemorative Issue                          >

Foreword by Dr. Lee Soo Ann
I am delighted to welcome you to this dinner which also commemorates the 75 th year of the tea...
Message by Senior Minister

             irst, I would like to congratulate the NUS Economics Alumni for commemorating t...
50s | 60s | 70s | 80s | 90s | 2000
   Recollections                                                                       ...
popular disciplines, this could go to four
or five. I thus knew my tutorial partners
very well and often shared our co...
Being YOUNG in the 60s
                              “It was blissful to be young then”. (Wordsworth).

       uring ...
I have very pleasant memories of my student days in the Bukit Timah campus from mid-1967 to early-

       1970. (S...
The Economics
                                                                               However, after having worked ...
Economics > 90s                                                                              what it led me to be
A class like no other
A class like no other
One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude...
Having read the experiences of past Alumni, we
     transit to the life of students in NUS today! In this
     article, th...
NUS Economics Society (ENS) has organized many events over the ...
History of Department

                                          75Years                       ON!
Raffles College was ...
students continued to come down to the Bukit Timah campus to              Singapore Institute of Management, now SIM Unive...
Chander (India), and now Professor Sun Yeneng (China) who is     in 1935. However economics students can now pursue dual
Economics Alumni Events

To cater to diverse interests of approxim...
"Eloquence Essentials 2008", a workshop by
Economics Alumni Committee Members

         Economics Alumni Committee, clockwise from top left: Koh Weining, Charan K...
NuS Economics Alumni Commemorative Magazine 2010
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NuS Economics Alumni Commemorative Magazine 2010


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This magazine is a collection of articles from the economics alumni members from various decades which includes our SM Goh as well!

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NuS Economics Alumni Commemorative Magazine 2010

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  2. 2. Content Commemorative Issue > Editor’s Note Having only graduated in 2009 from NUS, I was Page 3 (and still am) undoubtedly the „baby‟ of the NUS Economics Alumni. The first commemorative magazine for the NUS Economics Alumni was Foreword by Highlights thus an excellent opportunity for me to Dr Lee Soo Ann understand more about the functions and importance of this alumnus. Page 4 Since this is the Alumni‟s first commemorative magazine, it seems befitting that the magazine Message by SM GOH serves as a looking glass into the varied and colorful experiences of our Economics Alumni across 6 different decades. Therefore, we have included as the main article for this magazine, 7 Page 5-11 recollections from Alumni members from as early as the 1950s to the present decade. To Recollection wrap up the recollections, the dynamic and fun- loving students from the NUS Economics Society have prepared an article that showcases their life in NUS today. Besides Page 12-13 these, we have prepared several other articles on the history of the department and the events and activities of the Economics Alumni for your NUS Economics Society reading pleasure. Indeed, given the many contributions to the magazine, I wish to thank the many Page 14-16 contributors, without whom this magazine would not have been possible. Special thanks History of Department go out to Dr Lee Soo Ann for his relentless support in this publication and the NUS 75 years on! Economics Society for their help with the design. Page 17-18 In retrospect, I guess my education in NUS has been extended as the production process of Past Alumni Events this magazine proved to be an insightful journey! For one, it has shown me that our „Alma Matters‟ as with such an illustrated profile Page 19 of members, the Alumni can be an excellent platform for past graduates to meet and network, and in the process, perhaps give NUS Economics Alumni something back to the needy students of today. On this note, I hope you will enjoy the Committee Members magazine as much as I enjoyed producing it. Acknowledgements Koh Weining, class of 2009 Editor: Mr Koh Weining Honorary Assistant Secretary Design: Mr Wong Jun Jie, Ms Connie Lam Sheung Yuk, Ms Lee Shao Li wning84@gmail.com Contributors: Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Dr. Lee Soo Ann, May,2010 Emeritus Professor Lim Chong Yah, Mr Koh Kay Yew, Professor Basant K. Kapur, Mr Robert text] Ms Valerie Chow, Mr Francis Tan, Mr Yap Kim [Type Chua, Leng, Ms Chiang Huimin Sponsor: OCBC Bank
  3. 3. Foreword by Dr. Lee Soo Ann I am delighted to welcome you to this dinner which also commemorates the 75 th year of the teaching of economics in NUS (more accurately its predecessor institution, Raffles College). As is recounted in “75 years on”, there has been much morphing in terms of institutions, but the same spirit of enquiry and service to others is there today, as it was in 1935. Yet it was only three years ago that economics alumni came together as a group, and I am grateful that the department has supported its formation from its inception. Today we are taking one step forward in helping the needy in our very midst in the launch of NUS Economics Alumni bursaries. An anonymous donor has pledged $50K and many more have followed his example. I hope that you will not only enjoy the fellowship and entertainment in our Alumni-organised events, but also take the opportunity to give what you can in the donation form found in this magazine. This is what economics is all about, that of helping each other in the society we are in, more so in the very institution that has helped us, the students majoring in economics who are assessed as being needy by NUS administrators. Our committee and the NUS development office and Registrar‟s office will administer the bursaries which hopefully can be awarded in the forthcoming academic year. I wish to thank Mr Koh Weining, last year‟s first class honours graduate and class valedictorian, for putting together this publication at short notice and in excellent quality. The economics department has always been a large one in the faculty of arts and social sciences, whose dean Professor Brenda Yeoh has kindly agreed to be here with us tonight as our guest of honour, but we are also known to be a department of quality over its 75 years of existence. I trust that we will continue to be so through the bearing of its alumni who are in all walks of life today, enriching Singapore and the world through their life and conduct. The volunteers who have served with me in the last three years contributed generously of their time and talents and may we as economics graduates make that our theme in the years to come. Thank you, and God bless, Dr.Lee Soo Ann, class of 1960 Chairman “ This is what economics is all about, that of ” helping each other in the society we are in… - Dr. Lee Soo Ann [Type text] 3
  4. 4. Message by Senior Minister F irst, I would like to congratulate the NUS Economics Alumni for commemorating the 75th anniversary of the teaching of economics at the tertiary level. It is heartening that the study of economics in Singapore has evolved into a subject of choice among students. But for me, I nearly did not do economics. After my first year‟s results were out, my geography professor called me up. To his query, I told him that I was going to do economics for my honours, and that I hoped to be a professor one day. He tried to persuade me to do geography instead, arguing that I would do well in geography and that there would be little difference in being a professor of geography or economics. I was deeply touched by his interest in me. But in the end, I decided to stick to economics as it could be put to more practical use and would give me a better understanding of the real world. Indeed, the application of economics has never been more important, given the recent events in the past 2-3 years. The collapse of the US housing bubble in 2007 and the subsequent global financial and economic crisis have challenged the doctrine that markets can be fully relied upon to be self-regulating and efficient. While many people criticised the economics profession for not predicting or preventing the crisis, I would rather emphasise the positive role that economists played in urging timely monetary and fiscal interventions by governments around the world, including Singapore. This market intervention has arrested the downturn and contributed to the global recovery. If nothing else, the crisis has reinforced the fact that governments and markets need each other. Economic regulations carry compliance costs, but when applied prudently, they change behaviours, and ultimately enhance national competitiveness. Policy makers should therefore have a good grasp of economics. In Singapore, we can see how economics shape public policy everywhere. More importantly, where appropriate, we have departed from economic orthodoxy to suit our circumstances. For example, our monetary policy is exceptional for being centred on the management of our exchange rate instead of the interest rate because of our small and open economy. Long before it became fashionable, we were pursuing bilateral and multilateral Free Trade Agreements to improve the competitiveness of our companies in foreign markets. We were pioneers in applying the Vehicle Quota and Electronic Road Pricing systems to manage road demand. Our healthcare financing system is designed to avoid the pitfalls of adverse selection and moral hazard present in health insurance systems elsewhere. Amongst developed economies, we are quite unique in being able to deliver universal healthcare access with good health outcomes at affordable rates. In the coming years, there are more multi-faceted challenges such as an ageing population, the rising cost of healthcare, increasing productivity and climate change. Tackling them will require a deep understanding of economics, sound analysis and imaginative application of economic theory. I look forward to the active contribution of the NUS Economics Alumni in advancing the debate on how Singapore can better meet these challenges. “ the application of economics has never been more important, given the recent events in the past 2-3 ” years…….. - Senior Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong [Type text] 4
  5. 5. 50s | 60s | 70s | 80s | 90s | 2000 Recollections While the NUS Economics Alumni is only 3 years old, the experiences of our esteemed members span over several decades! In this 7 page spread on recollections from Alumni from different decades, we have put together the experiences Life as a University and insights of 6 generations of Alumni from the 1950s to the 2000s. Enjoy! Student in Singapore in the Early 1950s T his is just a brief recollection of the hostels. We rubbed shoulders with participants from Malaysia, we all life as a university student in one another from all over Singapore and naturally stood up when President Singapore in the early 1950s at Malaysia as hostelites. I first stayed for Nathan came to our table. He quietly the University of Malaya, then one year at Oei Tiong Ham Hall at the whispered to me in the view of others, but the only English-speaking University in Bukit Timah Campus, and then for three for my ears only, thus: “Chong Yah, what is to-day‟s Singapore and Malaysia. years, at the Dunearn Road Hostel. We tonight you cannot rag me!”. Both of us Two special characteristics stood out had no choice for room-mates, except for smiled, a little naughtily and nostalgically. then. One is that all of us from “up- the honours year. Two of us were put in The other diners did not know what that country”, meaning present day Peninsula a room and we could be of different was all about. As for Edwin, when I Malaysia, were put in hostels in ethnic and religious group and reading became the elected Dean of the Faculty Singapore. The main hostel was the different subjects. All of us too went to of Arts and Social Sciences in our alma Dunearn Road Hostel. Some Singapore eat in the same dining hall, for breakfast, mater, without the need of a second students too, particularly the honours lunch and dinner. For supper, a thought, I appointed him as one of my year students, had to stay in the hostels. volunteer or two would take the Green two Vice-Deans. This illustrious poet Students‟ life, aside from lectures, Bus or Tay Koh Yat Bus to bring back later became a very eminent Dean in his tutorials and examinations, was centred char kway teow, mee rebus or chai tao own right. My honours year room-mate on life as hostelites. kway from the food sellers at Newton or was Pang Tee Pow. He became the first Tekka. Ragging was rife, mostly uncouth Permanent Secretary in our newly-formed We lost four childhood years during the and uncivilized. In year two, which was Ministry of Defence after Independence in Japanese Occupation, and most of us the “honeymoon year” then, having no 1965. A great loss to his family, relatives, were two to four years older when we formal examination, I too indulged in friends and to me and to Singapore, he joined the University after the War. ragging but of the very much more died young of cancer, most unfortunately. Though being forced to grow up rather gentlemanly and civilized type. Among quickly, we missed our home all the same. Higher education then was very elitist. the few people that I ragged, and Our home could be as far away as Perlis, The lecture classes were small, most of interestingly, were S.R. Nathan and Kedah, Penang, Kelantan or Terengganu. the time not more than 30. The tutorial Edwin Thumboo. More than half-a- I came from Malacca. Our public and classes were much smaller still, at times century later, in one of our reunion weekend holidays were thus also spent in one or two students only. In the more dinners in Singapore with a lot of [Type text] 5
  6. 6. 50s popular disciplines, this could go to four or five. I thus knew my tutorial partners very well and often shared our complaints and compliments of our tutors together. Our lecturers, then not called professors, except for the Head of the Department, were close to us and we to them. Invited together to their homes for dinner was common, and much welcomed. The food was quite different from the mass-cooking food at our hostels. And the after dinner coffee was delicious and a much welcome change. One evening, Rama Iyer (who later became an important Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance in Malaya/Malaysia), and I had a memorable vegetarian dinner in a downtown restaurant in Singapore with Joan Robinson, the famous economist Boh invited both of us, his honours year students, to join him to dine with Joan Robinson. It was meetings like this that had contributed to my decision later to be an academic economist, a professor of economics, one day. At any rate, I had hardly any choice. Most of the disciplines available today in NUS, NTU and SMU were not available then, including sociology, political science, philosophy, law, business administration, accounting, engineering and architecture. Indeed, I recall that as the Honorary Secretary of the newly formed University of Malaya Debating Union (UMDU), I accompanied the Union‟s President (Thiagarajan, also later known as Tan Kah Jin) to Malacca Street to invite a brilliant returning lawyer from Cambridge, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, to should establish a Faculty as as Law soon possible. Needless to say, Mr Lee‟s team won with complete unanimity of support and acclamation from the student audience. The debate was at Eu Tong Sen Convocations Hall, (known where all today like Mr Malcolm MacDonald, the very distinguished Commission General for the United Kingdom in Southeast Asia. our as Commencements) were held with brilliant speeches from University Chancellors from Cambridge. She was on her way support the debating proposition to the home from China. Professor Lim Tay effect that the University of Malaya WHAT A YEAR IN NUS WAS LIKE IN MY TIME Dr. Lee Soo Ann The Bt.Timah campus where I studied was expedition to Kedah. My most interesting It was quite a broad economics small (only about 2,000 students in both course was in history of art as there was a curriculum and a useful subject was Arts and Science) and I got to know other small art museum in the campus itself. agricultural economics, though students well. About 2/3 came from the Federation of Malaya and 1/3 of those MY MOST Singapore is by no means agricultural. It helped understand the rest of the world were Malays so it was a broadening MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE better. After graduation, I joined the experience for me. Life was quite free, In my honours year, I found social Ministry of Commerce and Industry and there being 8 courses to study, but accounting quite puzzling and during class I seven years later, I was seconded to the assessment is only in the final exam. Essays was called upon to explain something on Ministry of Finance from the university for tutorials were not counted as there was the blackboard. I made a fool of myself. I as a senior economist. A few years later I no continuous assessment as now. I spent eventually recovered and when I joined the obtained a consulting position as lots of time in the library reading books in university as an assistant lecturer three economic adviser to the United Overseas other subjects! Lecturers were mainly years later, guess what subject I taught! It Bank which had been founded a short British and I learned to appreciate good was social accounting! I also eventually time before. In the meanwhile I joined spoken and written English. As there was wrote a book on that called "economic the university after returning with my no exam at the end of the first semester, planning and project evaluation". master's and moved up the ranks to only at the end of the second, I enjoyed HOW MY ECONOMICS become a full professor twenty years every year and could play the violin in the after graduation. I was thus able to have university orchestra (my future wife sang in EDUCATION HELPED ME IN MY a comprehensive career covering the choir!) and go on an archaeological CAREER government, business and academia. I thank NUS for giving me a comprehensive [Type text] foundation, yet rigorous. 6
  7. 7. Being YOUNG in the 60s “It was blissful to be young then”. (Wordsworth). D uring our undergraduate years from 1963 to 1966 the University of Singapore was still relatively open. Different political tendencies and thoughts freely contended for support among the student community. The University Library and especially its Current Periodicals section was well stocked with publications from many countries and political persuasions. Student political bodies like the University Socialist Club where I was an office bearer, was able to organize political forums and talks with outside speakers with minimal formalities. Many such events were well attended not only by students but also open to the public. Prior approval 6 from the University Administration was unnecessary. Neither was prior registration required of anyone attending the events. Singapore joined the new Federation of Malaysia in September 1963, and as political jousting increased between the PAP and the Alliance after the former‟s aggressive expansion into Peninsula Malaysia, the campus soon became another battlefield between the State and Central Governments for support in a key constituency like the undergrads. Academic freedom and autonomy emerged as key concerns among the student community in the various tertiary institutions including Nantah, Polytechnic, and Ngee Ann College. The proposed introduction of the „suitability certificate‟ to screen the admission of new undergrads based on their activities in school days and not on their academic credentials became the driving force behind campus agitation and unrest. It culminated in the demand for a National Union of Singapore Students in late 1966. In academic year 1965/6 I was elected President of the University of Singapore‟s Economics Society. Ably supported by my classmates, Tang Wee Lip as Treasurer and See Chak Mun as Secretary, we organized a busy program of activities. The two that merit to be highlighted were the Talk on “Malaysian Common Market – Problems and Prospects” by Tun Tan Siew Sin, Malaysian Minister of Finance at the Annual Dinner and Dance of the Society, which attracted a record turnout of 150 participants from members and friends, and a survey of the employment prospects facing graduates in the class of 66. The Economics Faculty was endowed by a bright young and open minded faculty, mostly locals, many of whom were only a few years our senior. New and sometimes less conventional ideas were able to thrive in such a liberal environment as it was not stifled by the heavyweight of authority and bureaucracy. As our Economics class of 66 was small by any standards with only twenty one students, we benefited from closer interaction with the faculty and with each other. Up to this day we take pride that annual reunions are still held in August of each year. 60s I had chosen to major in Economics even though I had excelled in Political Science in my freshman year in 1963/4 as I thought the discipline was more rigorous. The isolation of key variables in an attempt to establish causal relationships was invaluable. Ideally I would have preferred to pursue Political Economy if it was available but bourgeois academia had decades earlier separated Economics from its social context and elevated the „market‟ to be the supreme arbiter of production and price based on “rational” decision making of the actors or stake holders involved. The absence of Economic History (i.e. history of Economic thought) from our syllabus was acutely felt. Looking back at our undergraduate years nearly half a century later, I am filled with nostalgia for those years where we were full of hope and promise, having just emerged from the shackles of British colonial rule and thought that the world laid at our feet and society could be shaped according to our aspirations and ideals. My only regret if any was that the Arts course had been reduced to three years with Honours awarded based on academic results in the final year when earlier it was offered as a fourth year of study. I have no doubts that the additional year would have enriched our intellects and education far [Type and mature our minds to face the challenges after more text] graduation. Left Koh Kay Yew, right Dr. Lee Soo Ann 7
  8. 8. I have very pleasant memories of my student days in the Bukit Timah campus from mid-1967 to early- 70s 1970. (Some time during the early or mid-60‟s, the University had switched from a four- to a three- years Honours programme (before switching back in the 1970‟s), and so my undergraduate studies lasted three years.) In my first year I read Economics, Political Science, and Sociology, and in the second and third years I read only Economics, comprising eight courses in the second year, and seven courses and an Honours Thesis (then termed Academic Exercise). I had excellent teachers, including Professors Lim Chong Yah, Chia Siow Yue, Lee Soo Ann, Augustine Tan, Amina Tyabji, among others. In my case, I should make a special mention of Professor Augustine Tan, not only for his fascinating and rigorous course in International Trade, but for being my Academic Exercise supervisor, and for strongly advising me to pursue a PhD in Economics. I owe my choice of an academic career to him, for which I will always be most grateful (whether my students over the years are also grateful is, of course, a separate issue!). My undergraduate studies provided me with a superb foundation for my subsequent graduate studies, for which I will always be indebted to my teachers. I also participated in various campus activities, including being an active member of the Democratic Socialist Club, and serving as an Associate Editor of the students‟ newspaper, The Undergrad. My friends and I developed a keen political and social consciousness, and it is a matter of some regret to me that students nowadays don‟t seem to cultivate this to the same extent. Economics is a unique subject in many respects. It is both theoretical and practical, both aesthetically beautiful and functional, and provides both excellent „training of the mind‟ and invaluable real-world knowledge. Further progress in the discipline will I believe require both continual deepening – the use of increasingly advanced mathematical and computational methods – and continual broadening – exploring linkages with other disciplines such as Psychology, Philosophy, and Sociology – and in these lie both the immense potential of the subject, and the immense challenges it faces. Let us all continue to read widely in, and enjoy, the subject, and related disciplines! “ Economics is a unique subject in many respects……. Economics is a unique subject in many respects. …… It is both theoretical & ” & practical practical 8 knowledge. [Type text]
  9. 9. The Economics However, after having worked for 3 decades regulations impact the sustainability through Entrepreneurs & of Sustainable for MNCs, SMEs, Start-ups and Government the channel of economics. Enterprises for agencies (both Singapore and South Korea), Relative to large behemoth organisations I realise that no matter what sector or like MNCs, start-ups and SMEs have a industry you are in, developing an “eye” for greater flexibility to respond to fast- key socio-economic imperatives and drivers, changing business environment and like deploying “green” technology, processes SMEs government regulations, and be quicker in and practices (as seen in many IT data integrating sustainability directly into their centers today), are vital for economically business plans. Indeed, many of these sustainable and socially responsible small companies‟ business partners and enterprises, and ultimately business As a student of Economics during my Varsity customers (like global MNCs, government longevity. days, I began to view what I read in the bodies, and national corporations) are newspapers and magazines in a much Why? Because the economy is a sub-system increasingly looking to do deal with different light – you begin to critically think relative to the total system, the eco-sphere suppliers and retailers that share their about financial and socio-economic issues (with its ever-depleting scarce resources), and socio-economic and environmental values. being reported, and became more insightful in business leaders need to re-shape strategies Failing to adapt to these imperatives and seeing the connectivity between economic and organizational behaviour, and so that there drivers can result in loss of future business theory and actual application in normal day-to- is a balanced, managed growth which can be for these small companies. Finally, day events in Singapore and around the world. sustainable. Today, Governments, global Governments today, are starting to apply MNCs and large national companies are the same stringent environmental laws and But I must confess I had pretty much an already aggressively adopting the regulations to start-ups and SMEs, that uneventful, even mundane, campus life – I “sustainability” agenda (because of regulatory, once affected mostly larger companies. remember one week in my freshman year, the PR, branding, opportunistic revenue blissful highlight for the week was being able to For entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs, generation, cost-reduction or many other afford a newly printed revised edition of Paul A. there is no escaping the socio-economic factors). Samuelson‟s best-selling and somewhat realities of the trend towards sustainability. controversial “Economics” textbook. For example, when I worked for the South This is important because start-ups and Korean government (2002-2007), the country SMEs make up over 90% of all businesses Upon graduation, after a short stint as a had passed a law requiring all retailers to in the world – in the USA, in the last commodity futures trader, I entered the then charge customers for items that are “single century, 95 % of significant innovations in new “hip”, sexy, sunrise industry – Information one-time use” such as plastic shopping bags products and services came from firms Technology - in 1981, when Atari, Space and paper cups & plates. The results were with fewer than 25 employees (Babson Invaders, Apple II & “Lisa”, PC-DOS, and significant – the use of paper bags decreased Center for Entrepreneurship). Thus, suffice Wang word processors (and soon after, IBM‟s by nearly 25%, as many Koreans now bring to say, our world‟s economic and legendary PCs) were all the rage, and I frankly their own shopping bags to stores and their environmental sustainability will not be wondered how I could apply the lessons I own cups to cafes to avoid the charges. By possible without this segment on the band. learned in an industry which was, then and putting a “price on wastage”, the South Korean now, so engineering and innovation-oriented, government created economic incentives for and which constantly evolved at fibre-optic environmentally-friendly behaviour. These speed. [Type text] 9
  10. 10. Economics > 90s what it led me to be It was a no-brainer to study Economics in NUS after my A-levels. That was one of my better subjects then and quite easily I took up the subject. Not knowing that in university, there is more to Economics then Micro and Macro Economics which are certainly more difficult to learn! Also, not foreseeing the foreign lecturers with discerning accents that may be difficult to distinguish at the same time made the lectures an “entertaining” session. Nonetheless, a variety of lecturers from the Economics made my 3 years in NUS Economics Faculty a memorable one. Learnt lots of different economic theories, models and lots of calculations too! The numbers part was my favourite but there were too many equations in a lifetime of a student! And rightly should have brought me to Finance or Banking career but instead led me to a Retail sector career which I have been pursuing for more than 10 years. Econom One would say, “What does Economics have to do with Retail?” Well, heaps as that is one sector where one is able to experience the main economic fundamentals where the Supply and Demand of Goods & Services are traded. Prices are set; profits or losses are gained; and businesses grew or get wiped out by the market forces. I would say, I have been lucky to be able to start my career in product management – buying the stocks; setting the prices and managing the sales of the products – the 3 key areas of a Buyer role in Retail sector. That is the start of my career in learning and managing the economics of how a Retail business works. It is exciting and challenging at the same time. Fast pace; always planning ahead; thinking how to sell one‟s products; and at the right price for profitable margins. What can I say? It was truly a real and 1 st hand “economics” experience that cannot be taught from textbooks. From this work experience, I had moved onwards to brand management roles – managing and controlling the P&L of my brands. It is not just about the top-line but also the bottom-line results for my brands which challenges me even more in my Retail career. My goal is to pursue onwards to a general management career which encompasses not just business management but also stakeholders‟ management. There is no experience in business economics like true experience which was had from my Economics studies days in NUS which leads me to say:“Economics – A Wise Choice Indeed!” -r(T-t) C (S,t) = SN(d1) – Ke N(D2) Black Scholes Formula PortfolioVariance: [Type text] 10
  11. 11. A class like no other A class like no other One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is a vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. 20 - Carl Jung L ike almost every other cohort, the economics department during the 1998 matriculation year was the largest in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Belonging to a large department had its definite advantages. For one, there were always ample opportunities to buy that one-edition-ago microeconomics textbook during the occasional textbook sale organized by the Economics & Statistics Society. In addition, I could easily find a bunch of economics students at the same level of „academic confusion‟ (usually the group that sits/sleeps comfortably at the last row of every lecture hall) to form a study group with. We would often get together after each lecture or tutorial class to divide and distribute the tutorial questions equally amongst us to solve by the following week. Now, that‟s a first course in Pareto optimality through the specialization of labour! Now, if there were more students than the number of tutorial questions, we get to learn about the “free-rider problem” first hand. Furthermore, I do not think I will reveal too much on the exploitation of the (near) zero marginal cost concept in relation to the academically-advanced students “selling” (Note that the “sale” here may not necessarily imply a monetary transaction) tutorial answers which they have completed within the hour of receiving it to the next potential buyer. What started off as mass mystification of the elementary economic theories during the first year became clearer as students proceed into the second year. In fact, economics students started to speak the same lingo. Suddenly, other than wondering if you can get an Adam Smith apple juice at the Arts canteen, everyone else seemed to be engaged in serious showing off by solving 00 stochastic differential equations at the Arts canteen next to some English Literature students. Then, there were some who argued on the impossibility to observe White Noise since the karaoke music in the tavern is not visible. Others played rounds and rounds of Bayesian games by the pool table. Yet even a lot more students contemplated on applying Nash equilibrium theories to decide on whether to make a first move on that hot economics hunk/babe that you think may be interested in you too. In the end, both parties applied the theory, and decided not to make any move for the rest of the semester. So much for the real-life realization of the Prisoners‟ dilemma and my own little explanation on why you have to be an outlier if your other half is also an economist! Economics education aside, it is interesting to realise that most of the students are simply normal, fun-loving creatures outside the curriculum. The short (but sweet) honours year brought us much closer as we suddenly realise that around 80% of our cohort left the „ivory towers‟ to seek greater challenges and hopefully apply the knowledge they had acquired from 3 years of university education. The cohort suddenly shrank in size. By right, the competition has intensified and the race to complete the honours year dissertation and the complex 4000-level modules should have pressured students to visit the library more often. However for the 2002 honours cohort, we saw an opposite phenomenon. Instead, we started to play more than ever, meeting up for volleyball and ultimate Frisbee sessions on Saturday afternoons at Siloso Beach, enjoying countless nights of beer and games of pool at Prince Edward Tavern, and even taking a trip with our favourite microeconomics lecturer to Pulau Ubin during the December holidays. After our final exams, 27 of us even took a vacation trip together to Pulau Tioman to wrap up our honours year. Each of us came to realise that after we leave NUS, we may not have the opportunity to catch up as often as we would like, but the nice memories and photographs of our times together will accompany us in many episodes of reminiscing later in our lives. For most of us, undergraduate studies was the final leg of our formal education and I believed that everyone treasured the times that we shared together. I am indeed pleased to have shared these four years of my life balancing work and fun with my university classmates and the many great professors whom left a great impression on us. [Type text] 11
  12. 12. Having read the experiences of past Alumni, we transit to the life of students in NUS today! In this article, the students of the NUS Economics Society NUS Economics Society share their experiences on what life in NUS is like for them today by giving insights on the functions and events of the society. Since 1961, the NUS Economics Society (ENS) has been working alongside the economics department to enhance the undergraduate NUS Economics experience and promote NUS Economics nation-wide. Our network also extends beyond the campus to include our alumni and external organisations, with whom we work to bring forth exciting new programmes. “ ENS has done an outstanding job serving the student body - career talks by professional economists, representing student interests to the administration and fun orientation camps – the society has done them and so much more. On a personal level, the society has added much soul to my varsity life: I’ve had the opportunity to follow, to lead and to forge close friendships. Thank you ENS for the fun times ” OCBC Gold Medal (Top Year 1 FASS Student) and fond memories! -Kaimin Sherwood Memorial Book Prize winner Public Policy Challenge 08 Champion MOE Local Teaching Award Scholar 46th ENS President “ Being in the society has helped me to see the potential a small group of people has to transform the university experience of themselves and others into an even more fruitful one. Change and improvements ” cannot be hoped for, they have to be initiated. -Dawn Lee NUS Global Merit Scholarship holder NUS University Scholars Programme [Type th Student Welfare Committee Head 47 text] 12
  13. 13. Events Events NUS Economics Society (ENS) has organized many events over the years which include National Economics and Finance Management Quiz (NEFMQ), an annual event organized for students from Polytechnics, Junior Colleges and the International Baccalaureate programme. This quiz was held in collaboration with MoneySense for the past two years – an organization which aims to educate the public on finance management. We also organized several talks and seminars for students for instance MAS Moneysense Talk, Career Talk by MTI and CIC, as well as the Economics of Golf Talk. Through these talks, we hope to create career opportunities as well as equip members with life skills that can come in handy in time of graduation and in their future career. ENS also held many social events for the members to bond and know each other better. We have our annual chalet which served as a wonderful opportunity for everyone in ENS family to mingle around. We also have Moon cake festival and Chinese New Year celebrations where everyone chatted, play games and formed friendships. On top of that, we also have our annual ENS Bazaar, a very significant event of the Economics Society which sees a plethora of vendors selling their products and food items. One can also catch a glimpse of a range of overseas arts talent and world class gathering of dance luminaries showcasing various cultures. Not forgetting our annual Economics Camp which is one of the biggest events in ENS! The goal of the camp is to assimilate the freshmen to the campus environment through the fostering of new friendships and have fun. Post Camp Gathering for all the freshmen & leaders Annual Chalet!! Annual Freshmen Orientation!! > NEFMQ!! Website: http://www.nus-ens.com/ Department of Economics, National University of Singapore 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 11920 Tel/Fax: 67779117 [Type text] Email: econs.soc@gmail.com 13
  14. 14. History of Department 75Years ON! Raffles College was founded in 1929 by the Straits Settlements doctorate from Oxford University: he was to lead the department (the British colony comprising Malacca, Penang and Singapore) until he resigned in 1960. Many batches of honours graduates government for the teaching of the humanities and the sciences assumed leading positions in the government, business and at the tertiary level in Singapore. Its buildings now constitute the academia of both Malaysia and Singapore. Before he passed Bt.Timah Campus of NUS. Shortly after its founding, the first away in 1983, he wrote a privately circulated book about the readership in economics was advertised in 1933. Ralph Arakie, department in which he recounted the careers of many honours M.Sc.(Econ) from the London School of Economics (L.S.E.) was graduates. appointed and arrived at the end of 1934, to start the teaching of Raffles College combined with the KE VII School of Medicine to economics in 1935. At L.S.E., he had been a brilliant research form the University of Malaya in 1949, an entity supported by the student. In an appreciation of Mr.Arakie, a former student Moni two governments of the then Federation of Malaya and of the Sundram wrote that “he disdained pomp and circumstance, Colony of Singapore. An honours year in economics was started preferring to be a guide, philosopher, counsellor and friend to his in 1951. In 1957 the Federation of Malaya became fully students who responded by according him both affection and independent, Singapore remaining a colony. This led to the the respect… he chose to lecture without recourse to notes..” formation in 1962 of the University of Singapore, a new campus Such was the warm and intimate way that teaching in economics being built in Pantai Valley outside Kuala Lumpur, the capital of started in Singapore. However he died after two years, relatively the Federation, the name “University of Malaya” being retained young, in 1936, through tragic circumstances. His successor was by it. The University of Singapore (SU) continued to be at the Thomas Henry Silcock who arrived in January 1938. Professor Bukit Timah campus, the medical/dental campus continuing on at Silcock was then only 28 and had obtained his Outram Road. Despite this separation, many Malayan/Malaysian [Type text] 14
  15. 15. students continued to come down to the Bukit Timah campus to Singapore Institute of Management, now SIM University. study economics. Succeeding him was Lim Chong Yah, a brilliant state scholar from Malacca who had came to study at the University of Malaya A photograph of the 1940 student economics society at Raffles in 1951-55. He also like Professor Silcock, obtained his doctorate College showed some seventy five economics students, from Oxford University and served as head for sixteen years from including those taking it as a subsidiary level. Among those in 1976, during which he led the department through the change of the photograph were Mr.Lee Kuan Yew and his wife, Geok Choo, the University of Singapore into the National University of as well as Tun Abdul Razak, the second Prime Minister of Singapore (NUS) in 1980. In that year, Nanyang University Malaysia. Dr.Goh Keng Swee (later to become Finance, Defence closed and its economics and statistics staff were transferred to and Education Minister in Singapore, as well as Deputy Prime NUS making the department much larger. In 1979, the Minister) was also in it, though at that time he had already department relocated to the new Kent Ridge campus of NUS. graduated from the College and was an economics tutor in the Under the leadership of Professor Lim, the department expanded College. Professor Silcock was a brilliant scholar who had to nearly 100 teaching staff, and played a prominent part in the rejected opportunities in the Indian and Colonial Civil Service in public life of Singapore. favour of an academic life. He was the Economics was taught to students son and grandson of Christian in other schools, such as the missionaries, and was born in China Faculties of Science, Engineering where his parents served. and Law. Besides social work, the It is not surprising then that Professor department also assisted in the Silcock initiated social work training as expansion of accountancy and a subset of the department. An business administration teaching outstanding pioneering social work in Singapore. Two years after he student was Mr.S.Nathan, now was promoted to a full President of Singapore. He also initiated the training of professorship in 1981, Professor Singaporean staff to replace British expatriate staff. Together Lee Soo Ann was transferred to the Faculty of Accountancy and with Dr. Goh was a Lim Tay Boh who after obtaining a Raffles Business Administration as Dean, succeeding Professor You College diploma, then went on to obtain a first class honours in Poh Seng as director of the then SU school of accountancy and economics from Cambridge University and returned to teach business administration. after WW II. While a lecturer, he went on leave and obtained his Professor Lim was succeeded, when he retired at age 60 as doctorate from L.S.E. After Professor Silcock‟s departure at the head in 1992, by Professor Basant Kapur who had graduated age of 50, Dr.Lim Tay Boh became the next professor (head of with a first class honours in 1970 from the University of department). During his term, Mr.Goh Chok Tong obtained a first Singapore and went on to obtain his doctorate from Stanford class honours degree in economics from the department. University. Professor Kapur led the department for six years until Professor Lim went on to become Vice-Chancellor of the then 1998 after which there were a number of acting appointments. University of Singapore but he died in office in 1975 when he NUS underwent a sea change in 2000 with the appointment of a was 60. new president who sought to make NUS a global university. Another local staff recruited was a brilliant statistician from L.S.E., New criteria for staff tenure were set, and the department turned Dr. You Poh Seng, who became the next professor or head of full circle with non-Singaporean heads being appointed, first department which expanded to cover the teaching of statistics as Professor Ake Blomquist (Canada), then Professor Parkesh well. In 1979 he retired at age 60, to become director of the [Type text] 15
  16. 16. Chander (India), and now Professor Sun Yeneng (China) who is in 1935. However economics students can now pursue dual jointly with the NUS department of mathematics. degree programs with Australian National University as well as joint degrees with some other faculties in NUS. NUS economics Economics students are still mainly Singaporean, but there are alumni include Ho Kwon Ping in the also students from elsewhere, business sector and Ravi Menon, the such as Malaysia, China and permanent secretary of MTI. Vietnam. There are also numerous exchange students. Many Over a hundred now graduate with an economics students now go for a honours degree in economics, as term or two to the University of compared to 2 in 1951: such has been British Columbia, the Stockholm the transformation in the last 75 years! School of Economics as well the The department is now in the top 10 in NUS overseas colleges in Palo all Asia with its own journal “The Alto and Shanghai. Singapore Economic Review. Through its SCAPE (the Singapore Centre for What began as the teaching of undergraduate economics in a Applied and Policy Research), the department continues its British colony has now become the teaching of economics in a tradition of researching on topical issues. As in the 1980s, global city. Over 100 students are economics is a very much sought after enrolled in postgraduate economics: discipline in the Faculty of Arts & Social many master‟s and Ph.D. graduates Sciences and continues to attract students return to China, India and elsewhere. taking its modules from all other faculties in After 1999 when the teaching of NUS, from abroad and from other statistics was shifted to the Faculty of universities in Singapore on exchange. Science, the teaching of economics has now reverted to what it simply was [Type text] 16 Written by: Dr Lee Soo Ann
  17. 17. Economics Alumni Events A SNAPSHOT OF NUS ECONOMICS ALUMNI EVENTS To cater to diverse interests of approximately 1300 alumni members, the NUS Economics Alumni has held several workshops and social activities since its launch on 2nd Mar 2007 at the Cathay Preview Lounge. Highlights of some of our past activities are as follows Wine Appreciation Night hosted by Solymer Asia (2007) The event, held at Far East Square saw more than 20 members having an enjoyable time learning and sampling a variety of Spanish wine. Mooncake Festival Celebration with invited speakers Mr Yang Yew Chong, Chinese Studies Alumni and A/P Victor Savage, Department of Geography, NUS (2007) Though the historical and cultural origins of the Moon-cake Festival and toponymics, the study of place names, did not have much in common, that did not stop the Economics, History and Chinese Studies Alumni from successfully organising a talk on both topics. Mr Yang Yew Chong began with a presentation on the history behind the Moon-cake Festival. After a short intermission where moon-cakes were served, A/P Victor Savage gave a talk on how some places in Singapore came to be named. Utilising his personal collection of old photos, A/P Savage riveted the audience with his engaging lesson on a lesser known aspect of Singapore's past. "Sustaining Financial Peace of Mind - Lessons from the Endowment Approach" by Mr. Wee Sin Tho, Chief Strategist for the NUS Endowment Programme (2008) A total of 25 Economics Alumni members had an engaging and informative session with Mr Wee at the Tan Chin Tuan Function Room at YMCA Orchard. Mr Wee highlighted the challenges and concerns regarding retirement, health costs and the costs of living. Tea Session with graduating students with talk by Mr Tang Wee Lip, Vice-Chairman of the NUS Economics Alumni (2008) About 30 graduating students gathered at the new FASS lounge for a refreshing talk by Mr. Tang who has had varied experiences in both the public and private sectors over four decades. He offered words of advice regarding career paths and also shared on the important questions to ask when embarking on a career. [Type text] 17
  18. 18. "Eloquence Essentials 2008", a workshop by the NUS Toastmaster's Club 3 speakers from the NUS Alumni Toastmasters Club conducted the session on the various techniques of speaking off-the-cuff and presenting speeches confidently. It was truly a “learning by doing” endeavour and Mr. Daniel Lo, a committee member and private banker emerged the “best speaker” for the night. ENS Annual Career Talk & Golf Talk by Mr Lip Ooi, PGA Professional (2009) NUS Economics Alumni collaborated with the NUS Economics Undergraduate Society (ENS) in organising a career talk for the students and also invited Mr Lip Ooi, a PGA Professional, to share on “The Economics of Golf”. Second NUS Economics Alumni Annual Dinner (2009) The NUS Economics Alumni held its second annual dinner at Goodwood Hill. As before, the event was very well attended with about 100 alumni and friends from the graduating class of 1950s to recent graduates from the Economics Department. The guest of honour was Emeritus Professor Lim Chong Yah who gave us a historical journey of the Economics Department, including the role played by a large number of alumni from the department in the founding years of Singapore. Prof Lim and Peter Law also showed us that age is no barrier to singing. Despite the rain and the prevailing global financial crisis, the ambience was good and spirit was high. Book Talk by Mr Koh Kay Yew, co-editor of the book “The Fajar Generation – The University Socialist Club and the Politics of Postwar Malaya and Singapore" (2010) Mr Koh was the secretary general and president of the University Socialist Club (USC) in 1964/5, and president of the University of Singapore Economics Society in 1965/6. In the 1950s and 60s, the USC and its organ Fajar were a leading voice advocating the cause of the constitutional struggle for freedom and independence in peninsular Malaya and Singapore. The talk gave the younger alumni members a snapshot of the political atmosphere during that period as many were too young to remember such events, and they also never knew that NUS at one time was a hotbed of revolutionary activity! [Type text] Compiled by: Ms Chiang Huimin 18
  19. 19. Economics Alumni Committee Members Economics Alumni Committee, clockwise from top left: Koh Weining, Charan Kaur, Chiang Huimin, Bao Bin Bin, Dr Connie Chung, Tan Tai Kiat, Dr. Lee Soo Ann, Tang Wee Lip, Daniel Lo. [Not in photo: Seow Shih Yuan, Chang Rui Hua] Honorary Chairman: Dr.Lee Soo Ann from Class of 1960 and taught at NUS until 1988 when he went to a seminary for two years, after which he served in the bible society of Singapore until end 2003. Since 2000, he has been a part-time senior fellow in the department of economics at NUS. He has led a few non-governmental organizations and now serves in a few profit-making companies. He authored Singapore: From Place to Nation and co-authored EC3371 Development Economics with Todaro and Smith, these being used as the textbooks for the two courses he now teaches at NUS. He currently chairs NUS Economics Alumni. Honorary Vice Chairman: Tang Wee Lip is the cohort representative for Class of 1960s. He is the founding president of The Stanford Club of Singapore, and was with the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Honorary Vice Chairman: Daniel Lo is the cohort representative for Class of 1980s. He has extensive experience in the finance industry and private banking. Honorary Secretary and i/c for mentoring programme: Tan Tai Kiat from Class of 2000s works for SBS Transit and is a volunteer probation officer since 1998 with the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS). He obtained his Masters in Public Policy and Administration at the London School of Economics in 2006. Prior to SBS Transit, Tai Kiat was with the Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA). Honorary Assistant Secretary: Koh Weining is from the class of 2009. He is currently training to be a teacher in NIE and will be teaching in Victoria Junior College from July 2010. Weining was the Valedictorian for his cohort in 2009 and was the former president of the NUS Economics Society. Honorary Treasurer: Dr. Connie Chung from Class of 1980s used to work in an American MNC holding sales, marketing and management positions. She spent many years in its overseas offices working with customers in PRC, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Hong Kong, Sydney, Wellington and Rochester, Minnesota, USA. She is currently teaching in NUS and serves as Treasurer in the Economics Alumni. Assistant Honorary Treasurer and i/c of publicity/website: Seow Shih Yuan, from class of 2008 worked in the medical services line as part of a management executive programme after graduation. Her portfolio mainly was on risk management. She believes strongly in mentoring and takes part in the economics alumni mentorship programme. Charan Kaur from Class of 1970s, is currently lecturing in Economics, Business Management & Organisational Behaviour in the School of Business & Accountancy (BA) in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Bao Bin Bin from Class of 2000s is a Shanghainese and came to Singapore 4 years ago. She obtained her Bachelor Degree in Accountancy from Fudan University and worked in a state owned private equity as accountant. After obtaining her Master Degree in Economics in NUS, she joined Citi Private Bank as Management Associate. She was attached to Finance Department for 2 years and recently transferred to Sales Team as Associate Banker. Chang Rui Hua from Class of 2000 is currently with the Equities Capital Markets team in DBS Bank Ltd ("DBS"). She was involved in the Tiger Airways Holdings Limited and Tiong Seng Holdings Limited Initial Public Offering in 2010 and major rights issues by DBS, Neptune Orient Lines and Genting Singapore PLC in 2009. She was previously with the Corporate and Investment Banking team in DBS, serving clients such as Government of Singapore Investment Corporation Pte Ltd. Before joining DBS, she was a sovereign analyst with Standard & Poor's. Rui Hua obtained her Masters in International Public Policy (Politics) from University College London. Chiang Chiang Huimin from Class of 2000s has been teaching since 2006. She is currently the Assistant Department Head (Economics) and the [Type text] teacher teacher-in-charge of Entrepreneurs‟ Network at Raffles Institution (Junior College). 19