Daughter of prominent Chinese community leader sets up scholarship in his name

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Ms Chen Teck Shing (’72) 

Ms Chen Teck Shing (’72), a National University of Singapore (NUS) alumna who majored in Chinese Studies and History, has set up the Chen Sing Wu Chinese Studies Scholarship to honour her late father, Mr Chen Sing Wu,  at the Department of Chinese Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, NUS.

“My father was a very busy man, yet he was always willing to help others. He didn’t do much for himself and he would not have dreamt that I would do this for him – to honour his love for knowledge and for the community with this scholarship,” explains Ms Chen, who is the eldest daughter.

Born in 1911 in Fujian’s Zhangzhou Haicheng (漳州海澄), Mr Chen Sing Wu loved Chinese culture, history and the arts.  In his younger days, he served as a diplomat for the then Republic of China. Mr Chen was sent to Southeast Asia to oversee the affairs of overseas Chinese in the cities of Pontianak, Surabaya, and Cirebon in Indonesia. He was elected the President of the Pontianak Chinese General Association (Zhonghua Gonghui), President of Chen Clan Association, Director of the Pontianak Fujian Association (Fujian Huiguan), among many others. He also founded Cheng Bao, a Chinese news daily in Pontianak.

Settling in Singapore in the latter part of the 1940s, Mr Chen subsequently became a banker. He was the Chief Liaison Officer at Chung Khiaw Bank (commonly known as a comprador in those days), and then worked as the Business Advisor to OCBC’s Tan Sri Tan Chin Tuan.

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A write-up on Mr Chen Sing Wu in the Chang Chow General Association’s publication in 1948.  

Mr Chen loved to read, and was an avid arts collector. Despite his busy and high profile career, he never stopped serving the community. Mr Chen became an active member of Chinese business associations and clubs, including serving more than a decade as Chairman of the Chang Chow General Association, and the United Chinese Library.

Ms Chen had an illustrious career working as a banker in Singapore and New York for 25 years.  Spending 11 years working overseas fuelled a yearning in her to learn more about her Chinese roots and heritage.  Upon her early retirement in 2002, she turned to the arts, and also decided to pursue a Masters degree in Chinese Studies in 2009, studying alongside her two daughters, while they were doing their Law degrees at NUS.

Today, Ms Chen actively serves as the President of the NUS Chinese Studies Alumni Association, a member of the NUS Senior Alumni Group, and the Secretary General of the Singapore Leong Khay Huay Kuan Education Trust Fund.

“Since retiring early, I started volunteering in parents’ support groups in schools and clan associations, while also finding time to pursue knowledge. One thing led to another, and I became involved in societies and alumni groups.  I reconnected with old alumni and have made many new friends. It is a very refreshing journey, though it has kept me very busy,” shares the tireless retiree.

“I never thought I would be serving in our clan association, after my father’s passing,” said Ms Chen, referring to her current role as Vice-Chairman of the Chang Chow General Association.

“I was very fortunate to have grown up in a privileged environment and so have my children. It is so important that we do not forget about those in need and help them as much as we can. Never was I able to imagine in my younger days, that someday I would have the passion, and be in a position to do something like this, to honour my late father, as well as to help others. I would like to think that this is the beginning of a new journey.” Ms Chen adds.