Scholarship Awards to Recognise Excelling Disabled Students in Schools

Singapore, 22 June 2005 – All I ask is for a chance from them to prove myself,” wrote Jan Lee, one of SPD’s scholarship recipients this year. He was answering a question regarding gaining employment in his scholarship application essay. In it, he writes about his hopes for gaining employment after graduation, keenly aware of the obstacles he will face then.

24-year-old Jan Lee has transverse myelitis, causing inflammation of the spinal cord and leaving him paralysed in both legs. To have come so far in mainstream education and be awarded the scholarship is no small feat. A first-year Accountancy student at Nanyang Technological University and one of the top in his class at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, he is one of two recipients of the SPD-Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship 2005.

The other scholarship recipient is 20-year-old Liew Chong Heng. A second year Information System Management student at the Singapore Management University, this is his second attempt at the scholarship. Determined to secure the scholarship this year, his renewed confidence, determination and perseverance displayed during the interview this year left a deep impression on the panel, contributing to his success this time.

This is the second year of the Scholarship, which awards the two recipients with $11,000 a year to cover their tuition fees at a local university, and their living expenses. There is no bond to the Scholarship. Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation has pledged to commit up to $220,000 over four years to this programme.

With the Scholarship, 20-year-old Liew Chong Heng is assured that his parents will have an easier time coping financially. The money will be used to finance his tuition fees, transport and school materials. Both he and his elder brother have muscular dystrophy. His father, sole breadwinner of the family, is a taxi driver.

“The APB Foundation recognizes the importance of a good education for all our people – able-bodied or otherwise. Through this Scholarship, we want to encourage the physically disabled to not only pursue higher education but at the same time, strive for excellence as well. Only with a solid foundation will these students be better placed to obtain good jobs and eventually make their mark in the society.” says Mr Koh Poh Tiong, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Pacific Breweries Limited and Chairman, Executive Committee, Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation.

Both candidates were selected not just for their excellent academic results, but also for their attitude and desire to help others in spite of their conditions. Chong Heng currently helps to mentor secondary school students in his school’s SMU-BP Mentoring Scheme, and was also involved in a research project to help develop a PDA device for disabled persons to take notes easily.

Jan has volunteered with SPD, training others in e-Filing income tax returns for taxi drivers in a recent project. Having worked while awaiting entry to university, he has also displayed maturity and a strong determination to excel in his work and studies.

They received their scholarships on 22 June in an official ceremony from Mr Heng Chee How, Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, and Mayor of Central Singapore District.

“The scholarship is an extension of SPD’s Education Programme to help level the playing field for students with physical disabilities. The scholarship recipients will serve as role models and inspire others to overcome their limitations, to reach for the stars. As we highlight such individuals, it is hoped that more people will see that physically disabled people can excel and achieve excellence, and can contribute positively back to society as well,” says Mr See Cher, Chairman of the Education Programme.