Degree Speeches
Summer 2003

Lau Teng Chuan

Public Orator, Professor Ian Davidson, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony in Singapore held on Sunday 31 August at 2.30pm.

Newly emerging countries need to ensure that their natural resources are developed to the full. Singapore’s genesis to the pre-eminent position it now holds within the region is based on the remarkable development of its one abundant natural resource, its people.

This island has been blessed by a group of dedicated people who have seen the importance of a good education system to cater for all its people. Young men and women of distinction were selected to continue their education overseas in specialist areas, and then return and inculcate those who followed with the knowledge they had garnered so that together the enlightened teaching force could motivate the young of Singapore to perform to the levels of attainment that would today be the envy of most countries.

One such person amongst the first to study overseas was Lau Teng Chuan. Having obtained in 1952 his normal certificate in Physical Education teacher training in Singapore, he went to Loughborough College to study Physical Education teacher training, graduating with a DLC 1st Class Honours in 1956. Whilst there he overcame the vagaries of the English weather and the food – no chilli crab – to enter into a full student life and captaining the College badminton team.

On his return to Singapore he became a Lecturer and eventually Head of the Department of Physical Education in the Teacher Training College. In 1973 he obtained an MSc from the University of Oregon. From 1973-1975 he was Head of Department in the newly formed Institute of Education.

Progress in developing the infrastructure for sport for the whole community resulted in the formation of the Singapore Sports council. A natural candidate to head this exciting venture resulted in his appointment as Executive Director, a post he held with distinction from 1975-1992. During the formative years and beyond he was central to the development of an outstanding organisation that was capable of responding to the ever increasing needs of this fast developing country. His experience and expertise was called on continuously to assist the government in shaping and implementing the strategy for Sport and Physical Education throughout the whole infrastructure of Singapore. He represented the country on a widening selection of influential International committees and became to be appreciated from near and far as a very competent administrator. His qualities have been recognised by various awards that highlight his career: in 1969 he was awarded the Public Administration Award Bronze Medal for service to education; in 1981 the Public Administration Award Silver Medal for service to sport; and in 1997 he received the International Badminton Federation’s Distinguished Service Award for his lifelong dedication to and support of the game of badminton.

A person of such distinction on reaching retirement age is not allowed to go and “prune the roses”. In 1995 he was appointed Secretary General of the Singapore National Olympic Committee, a post he held with rare distinction, finally retiring for a well-earned rest in 2002.

Singapore, and particularly the youth of Singapore, have much to thank the Honorary Graduate standing before you today. He has served Singapore for almost 50 years. An exemplar of the original pathfinders sent overseas to be educated and then dedicate their knowledge or expertise for the good of the country.

Therefore, Vice-Chancellor, I have much pleasure in presenting to you Lau Teng Chuan, educationalist and sports administrator of rare distinction and Loughborough alumni, for the degree of Doctor of Technology, honoris causa.

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