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Parents’ Selflessness Inspires Businessman to Establish Bursary in 2017

Jan 3, 2023


Mrs Tan Guek Ming and Mr Tan Wang Cheow taking a cruise along the Moskva River, Russia in 2018. Image provided by Mr Tan.

“Education breaks one out of ignorance and the poverty cycle. Where possible, no one should be deprived of an education and financial difficulties should never be a reason for not having a basic education,” shares Mr Tan Wang Cheow (Business ’81), who established two bursaries in 2017 for students in financial need at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The Founder and Executive Chairman of food and beverage manufacturer, Food Empire Holdings Ltd, established the Tan Bian Chye & Lim Siew Kheng Bursary in honour of his parents and the Tan Wang Cheow & Tan Guek Ming Bursary in his and his wife’s names. Mr Tan’s parents’ strong belief in education, and generosity towards others, inspired Mr Tan to become a donor to NUS and to make a tribute to his parents.

“We are privileged that my parents supported our education and funded us for many extra courses we were interested in picking up, despite the fact that my father came to Singapore with nothing but debt. My father has also been supporting the school in his hometown in Nam Ann and, on every visit that I accompanied him for, he would proudly introduce me to the school trustees and principal.

“We need to help those around us who may not be as fortunate as we are. When I broached the subject of setting up a bursary with my mum, I could see her eyes beaming with happy approval,” he explains.

Mr Tan, who studied accountancy at NUS, remembers fondly the independence and social life that came with being a student. Although he admits that studying was not his favourite pastime, he acknowledges that his degree has played a role in his success.

“There were many modules in the accountancy course that gave me a good foundation for my business venture. Law of Contracts; Understanding Financial Statements and Analysis of Financial Numbers; Financial Modelling; and Taxation – many of them are dry topics but, in the course of your daily business decisions, they enable you to make more informed decisions,” he explains.

It is Mr Tan’s wish that the recipients of his bursaries will pay forward their good fortune. “I hope they will learn that money does not grow on trees. They should cherish whatever they can learn in the course of their tertiary education and apply it in their career. Finally, they should remember to give back to society what they have received and help those who are worse-off than themselves,” he says.

Additionally, Mr Tan urges his peers to come forward and pledge their support for students. “Helping the underprivileged and doing good in life, regardless the size of your contribution, will always bestow you inner peace,” he remarks.


Keep up with what’s going on around campus. Every day brings new possibilities to discover, experience and learn what makes us unique. Here are some of the upcoming events to promote leadership in philanthropy and raise awareness of this impact happening across NUS and the community.

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