Doors open for Colombo Plan Scholars
In 1950, Australia became a signatory to the Colombo Plan. the plan, which aimed to improve the living standards of developing countries in South East Asia, included funding university scholarship places for talented Asian students.
We spoke to three Monash alumni from Singapore about how the Colombo Plan scholarships changed their lives.
Dr Yeo Poh Teck (BmMedSc 1969, MBBS 1971, PhD 1976)
Dr Yeo was on the path to being an insurance salesman when his successful application for a Colombo Plan scholarship earned him an opportunity to study medicine at Monash University.
Now a neurologist, Dr Yeo is a consultant to five private Singapore hospitals, serves on multiple hospital committees, founded his own biomedical R&D company, and won Monash University’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Service Award for his work in establishing a Singaporean branch of the alumni network.
“I strongly believe tertiary education in the proper socio-economic context should be made more available to talented and keen students,” he said.
“Scholarships promote a culture of lifelong learning and acquisition of new knowledge. In the long term, education is a potent social equaliser.”
Dr Chang Mong Tay (BE 1974)
Dr Tay graduated from Monash University’s Faculty of Engineering with first class honours in mechanical engineering in 1974.
Following his return to Singapore, he worked at the Swiss multinational SGS Singapore. He has since founded his own training, consultancy and auditing business.
The scholarship changed not only his educational opportunities, but his attitude to life.
“It is a one-time award but leads to a lifelong personal commitment to excel in whatever endeavours you take in the rest of your life,” he said.
Both of Dr Tay’s children have gone on to graduate from Monash University and he has provided financial support for high-achieving Monash engineering students through the Dr CM Tay Leadership Scholarship.
Dr Tan Hooi Hwa (BMedSc 1971, MBBS 1973)
Education at Monash University went well beyond the classroom for Dr Tan.
“I did not choose to study medicine at Monash; the Colombo Plan placed me there, but it was a divine choice,” he said.
“It changed my approach to medicine to be not only knowledgeoriented, but people and passionoriented. Monash has given me compassion and a societal outlook.”
Now he is Director of The Ming (medical) Clinic in Singapore and President of the Haemophilia Society of Singapore.
He has taken part in multiple overseas medical missions over the past 20 years and volunteered at an old people’s home since 1976.