Youths on Scholarship Aim to Do More for the Society

Singapore, 25 August 2004 – “There are plenty of contributions (I can make) to the society if I were to become a scholar of The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD),” wrote Cai Zhenquan. “I would like to talk to children (with physical disabilities) about my experiences of growing up and make sure they can slowly learn to accept the fact that they are disabled”.

The 21-year-old Computing student at the National University of Singapore is diagnosed with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. As one of three successful applicants to the SPD-Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship, Zhenquan will soon be able to realize his wish.

Zhenquan, currently the IT Head in the NUS Students with Special Needs Group, aims to make his contribution in the technology field when he graduates. For now, he will work towards motivating disabled children in their studies and to be a good role model as a SPD-Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholar.

The academic performance of another Scholar made her stand out among the 10 applicants who applied for the same Scholarship. At the same time, Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha’s voluntary contributions at the Muscular Dystrophy Association and involvement in the Malay Cultural Club and Rotaract Club boosted her standing and secured her success in her application.

Although grateful for the scholarship which will help towards the financial situation at home, Nurulasyiqah who is diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy does not believe in showing her appreciation by changing herself and putting up a ‘façade’. Instead, she prefers to put her gratitude into action by working hard and excelling in her studies and to spending more time in her voluntary work.

For 20-year-old Liew Chong Choon, the scholarship helps to ease the household finances. His father is a sole breadwinner supporting him and his brother, both of whom are diagnosed with spinal muscular dystrophy and studying in the University. Chong Choon impressed the panel of judges with his academic performance as well as his commitment towards community work. He currently helps to mentor secondary school students in the BP Mentoring Scheme organized by the Singapore Management University where he is pursuing his Bachelor of Business Management.

The SPD-Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship was launched on 20 March 2004 to award students with physical disabilities for their outstanding academic achievements and to encourage them to aspire to higher levels of educational attainment. In the scheme, two scholars were to be selected and awarded with $11,000 a year that would cover tuition fees at a local University, books, living expenses and transport. However, the exceptional qualifications of the three applicants led the panel of judges to choose to award the SPD-Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship to three scholars instead.

The scholars were selected based on their academic results, performance in a written test as well as their overall confidence and comportment at an interview. They received the Scholarship on 25 August 2004 in an official ceremony from Mr Chan Soo Sen, Minister of State for Education.

The Scholarship is made possible with the sponsorship of Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation. The Foundation seeks to play a constructive and developmental role in the community and with a sponsorship of $220,000 that will stretch over four years, hopes to encourage students with physical disabilities to continue in their pursuit of excellence in their studies to achieve their dreams and ambitions.

“We are proud to be able to help maximize the potential of these students with physical disabilities today and to aid them in achieving more for the future. We congratulate the scholars and wish them all the best as they work to excel and prepare themselves to contribute even more to the society when they graduate,” says Mr Koh Poh Tiong, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Pacific Breweries Limited and Chairman, Executive Committee, Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation.

“The Scholarship is an extension of SPD’s Education Programme to help level the playing field for students with physical disabilities. The scholars will serve as role models and place people with physical disabilities in a positive light. With the three scholars, we look forward to grooming role models for younger students with disabilities and to show them that by putting their efforts into studying, they too can achieve so much,” says Mr See Cher, Chairman of the SPD Education Programme.

The Scholars have begun playing the role as Ambassadors of SPD by literally being the poster boys and girl in a public education drive in commemoration of the Society’s 40th anniversary. They are featured in three of five ads put up at 250 bus shelters islandwide from the end of August to November to promote the message ‘Physically Disabled just means Physically Challenged’. The trio is also currently involved in the planning of a year-end party to be held for the students under the SPD Education Programme which helps students with physical disabilities and students with parent(s) who are physically disabled.