Mr George Lee Lap Wah (’76), a retired banker, was raised on Christmas Island, a Commonwealth island in the Indian Ocean formerly administered by Singapore. He studied at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School thanks to the support of the Christmas Island Bursary. Today, he has established the Lee Hsyau Beng Family Bursary at NUS in honour of his father who supplemented his day income by operating a sundry store in the evenings and on weekends to ensure his four children could have a tertiary education overseas in Singapore and Malaysia.
”I have always felt that my ability to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration degree was a privilege society had given me and it is my duty to repay society in whatever way I could,” he shares. “I hope this Bursary will honour my father’s view in life that no one should be derived of opportunity to pursue education to his or her highest ability.”
The Lee Hsyau Beng Family Bursary will support students in financial need following any course of study at the University. Prior to setting up the named fund, Mr Lee had been giving back to his alma mater for over 16 years, supporting his class prize, and Annual Giving and Business School bursaries. ”My philosophy in giving is to help those who risk missing out on education to their highest level of ability due to financial constraints. I believe no one should be deprived of such opportunities,” explains Mr Lee.
“My father is a strong believer that education is the way to break out of the poverty gap. Despite the fact that he had only minimal education he ensured all his children were able to pursue higher learning. He worked hard to send all four children overseas for education working a second job. Despite not knowing English he learnt to read and write on his own and was able to rise within the ranks of his company through perseverance and hard work from being a labourer to supervisor,” he continues.
After graduation, and completing his National Service, Mr Lee embarked on an illustrious career in finance. “I was fortunate during those years as the financial service industry was experiencing very rapid growth in Singapore and I was able to capitalise on such opportunities to rise swiftly to the pinnacle position of the industry. I became General Manager of a full licensed bank in Singapore in 1989 at the age of 36,” admits Mr Lee.
Mr Lee’s last role before retirement was as Head of Global Corporate Banking for the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited (OCBC). He then worked part-time as an advisor to OCBC Malaysia. Today, the father of a 25-year-old daughter, enjoys a well-deserved life of golf, travel and reading.
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