Transforming the lives of young scholars
In July His Excellency Scott Wightman, the British High Commissioner in Singapore, kindly hosted a reception and dinner in celebration of the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust (MTST), at which the guest of honour was Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek and wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. This event was held to mark the progress made by the Trust in establishing scholarships for students of all backgrounds at Somerville, to recognise the involvement of our new patron, Ms Ho, and provided the opportunity to celebrate an extraordinarily generous gift of £1.5m to the Trust by Mr Robert Ng and the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation.
The Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation was established by Mr Ng and his brother, Mr Philip Ng, in memory of their late father, Mr Ng Teng Fong. The Foundation supports a variety of causes in Singapore, Hong Kong and the rest of the world, including hospitals, universities and arts institutions.
As well as the High Commissioner and Ms Ho, the dinner was attended by prominent Singaporean businesspeople including Ms Jeanne Ng, who signed a gift agreement on behalf of her father Mr Robert Ng; local alumni including HRH Raja Zarith Sofiah, the Permaisuri of Johor; and the then Principal (Dr Alice Prochaska), the Director of Development (Sara Kalim), and the Campaign Director of the MTST (Jessica Mannix).
Concerning Mr Ng’s generous donation to the Trust, Alice Prochaska said: “It is a great honour and a privilege to receive this fantastically generous gift from the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation, which is renowned for its philanthropy here in Singapore and more broadly. It is a special pleasure to meet Jeanne Ng, representing her family. The agreement we signed this evening lays the foundation for Mr Robert Ng to be recognised formally as one of the University of Oxford’s leading benefactors; and I hope that members of the Ng family will always feel that they can expect a special welcome when they visit Oxford. Their generosity will transform the lives of generations of young scholars.”
During their time in Singapore the then Principal and Director of Development also took the opportunity to meet other Somervillians in the region. Personal meetings included one between the Principal and HRH Raja Zarith Sofiah where they discussed Raja Zarith’s many philanthropic activities in Malaysia. This week of alumni meetings was rounded off by a group brunch at Wild Honey.
This visit makes another step in Somerville’s plans to increase the College’s engagement with alumni in the region. A new regional committee of alumni will be established soon and more visits are proposed in the coming months.
The Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust (MTST), established in 2013 to create fully-funded scholarships, also runs a pioneering programme to support the personal and academic development of the whole student body at Somerville and an annual competition to fund innovative projects.