Associate Professor Kwa Chong Guan (’68) and Ms Kwa Kim Hwa (’73) have made a gift to enable the National University of Singapore (NUS) to establish the Mabel and Soon Siew Kwa Scholarship named in memory of their parents.
“Our parents were members of the Pre-Pioneer Generation who laboured through the 1950s and 1960s into the 1970s, helping to lay the foundations that enabled Singapore to survive after the separation from Malaysia in 1965. The major portion of my father’s working career was with Chung Khiaw Bank founded in 1947 as the “small man’s bank.” He married my mother Ms Mabel Lim towards the end of World War II,” reveals Assoc Prof Kwa, who is teaching at the Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS).
Ms Kwa added, “They were very supportive of all that we wanted or chose to do. I studied Social Work as my major; my mother’s friends asked her why she allowed me to do the course as social workers were not well paid; my mother’s reply was that if that is her area of interest, let it be as this was her life and I trusted her decision.” Ms Kwa doesn’t remember all the facts and figures and knowledge dished out during lectures and tutorials but she remembers the fun they had – tea at the Students’ Union, chatting at the Upper Quadrangle, taking the nice shaded and peaceful walk on the road to classes; buying books at the Co-op store; playful pranks played in class, “choping seats” and queueing for “Red Spot” books at the Library.
She felt what was important were the friendships forged and maintained after she had completed University and that education at the University taught her to be resourceful and independent.
The Scholarship will provide full-term financial assistance to Singaporean undergraduates during their studies at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, FASS or the NUS Business School.
Assoc Prof Kwa hopes that the recipients will remember that the Scholarship is enabling them to realise their dreams and at some time in their future, reflect on enabling others to achieve theirs, in keeping with the spirit of the quote by William Penn that his father would have read every day, “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
This gift was facilitated by Mr David Ho, President of the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS). Mr Ho and NUSS have been actively appealing to its members to support their alma mater, including contributing to the NUS Alumni Bursary Campaign.
In recognition of the generosity of the Kwas, NUSS has named the Kent Ridge Guild House swimming complex the Mabel and Soon Siew Kwa Swimming Complex. Assoc Prof Kwa is an NUSS life member.
Assoc Prof Kwa also hopes that their gifts will nudge senior alumni of NUS reaching, or having reached the seventh decade of their life cycle, to reflect on the words of Confucius at the beginning of Book Two of his Analects “at seventy I could give my heart-and-mind free reign without overstepping the mark.”
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