Home » Uncategorized » Was The Loke Cheng Kim Scholarship Committee Aware Of Patrick Tan’s President’s Scholarship Award?

Was The Loke Cheng Kim Scholarship Committee Aware Of Patrick Tan’s President’s Scholarship Award?

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In his own statement, Patrick Tan wrote that he was awarded two scholarships for his US studies, namely, the prestigious President Scholarship and the Loke Cheng Kim Scholarship.

The LCKS is an annual award given out by the Loke Cheng Kim Foundation, a private entity that gives out bond-free scholarships to successful applicants. Only one or two awards are given out annually.

 Among the conditions stipulated for the award of its scholarships is that a recipient should not be a recipient also of other scholarship awards or grants.

The conditions and requirements of award can be found on the foundation’s website. These details would be used to advertise in the press inviting applications for the scholarships:

Please left click on pic to enlarge.

 More details on the foundation and the  scholarship can be found on its website here.  http://www.lokefoundation.com.sg/

I am not aware if the President’s Scholarships* have a similar exclusion attached as a condition of award of the scholarship to successful applicants. But going by first principles and egalitarian values of optimizing available limited resources, one would expect this to be the case too, in fact, doubly so, for a prestigious award as the President’s Scholarship.

(N.B. *President’s Scholarships are generally awarded concurrently with another PSC Scholarship:
the Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship (SAFOS),
the Singapore Police Force Overseas Scholarship (SPFOS), or
the Overseas Merit Scholarship (OMS)

– source Wikipedia)


The Loke Cheng Kim Foundation Scholarship appears to be a very generous and comprehensive scholarship package for an undergraduate course of study leading to a first degree. Furthermore, it is also bond-free. (Which explains why Patrick Tan was able to accept this and the PSC President’s Scholarship, concurrently?)

It is also up for speculation why his application to train as a ‘Medical Scientist’ was acceded to by Mindef? As far as it was commonly known then, the ‘practice’ then was confined to concession only for applications for local training to be a medical doctor which is in part to alleviate Mindef’s own needs for Unit Medical Doctors (MOs).

Although Mindef has lately attempted to clarify this issue as a result of the controversy, its release lacks the necessary details that could help clarify and convince.

It was on his return that PT was subsequently put to study an affliction known by its common name of ‘soil disease’ (Melioidosis). His PhD thesis was on an organism called C elegans. He did not explain in his letter in what way this organism is related to his study of the causal bacterium for Melioidosis, viz., Burkholderia pseudomallei.

By his own admission, his involvement in studying the disease appeared to be more fortuitous than pre-planned. It appeared not to be the reason or justification he gave to Mindef in the first instance to justify his application for his lengthy overseas leave of absence to pursue his studies and training. So one really has to wonder about the basis and justification upon which he was able to convince Mindef to grant him permission for such an extended period of absence (12 years?) to pursue his studies in the US.

Is Patrick Tan willing to favour us with an unambiguous and unequivocal explanation regarding this issue?




  1. ajohor says:


    President Scholar is basically a MERIT/RECOGNITION SCHOLARSHIP, that is why it is combined with other scholarships/bursary PSC or otherwise WHICH Actually pays the bills for the university course. The quantum given is small (approx less than S$10K) (as compared to the PSC scholarship, not enough to pay for medical school fees.
    You can check with your friends who are guarantors.

    Frankly, your questioning rheothoric means nothing is good enough as long as it comes from party in power side or its past participants.
    Further, your article misleads as the Loke Cheng Kim states that no present scholarship holders can apply, it does not say that their scholarship holders cannot hold other scholarships in future.
    As a neutral voter who votes on best candidates, your article does not assist other than possibly mislead.

    Further, I am impressed Dr Tony Tan ensure that the scholarship was not from PSC for the son, hence, ensuring no favouritism from Govt.


    • thetwophilo says:

      Sorry ajohor,

      If your note is meant to clarify for me and the rest this issue, frankly you can do better, much better.
      Your mealy mouthed explanation, hardly clarified or explained anything.

      Now, if you are really interested to inform, please inform clearly. Be more succinct without being defensive.

      I must reiterate that what I have said is based on what has been given out to date by parties concerned.

      If it seemed to be like the IT adage of ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ you should realize the solution lies in whose hands.

      On the issue of favouritism let’s get this straight:

      1. No need to go into details, but the TT family can well afford PT’s education. I understand that about 500 people apply for the Loke Cheng Kim scholarships annually, many whose financial positions when compared with PT is like comparing a mosquito and an elephant. If as you said, the Presidential scholarship is mainly for prestige, and PT had got it, why than the need for the LCKS?

      2. The people who vet applicants for the LCK scholarship consist of TWO NUS profs and two other directors, presumably from the foundation. It is a fact that TT has always been closely associated with and involved with the institution. He was an Education Minister.

      3. TT was also Defence Minister and I am sure you must have heard about the White Horse ‘project’ in Mindef? And most importantly, the facts so far revealed do not satisfactorily nor substantively clarify obvious and material issues raised. These are well documented in blogs by other netizens.

      These issues in themselves are important whether TT will be an EP candidate or not. As I have said above, I wouldn’t want to second-guess what you are trying to say or imply in your post. The choice is yours, whether you want to explain your point clearly, if you have the facts, or to gloss over, in which case you fail to convince.

  2. sgcynic says:

    “Further, I am impressed Dr Tony Tan ensure that the scholarship was not from PSC for the son, hence, ensuring no favouritism from Govt.”

    Can you direct me to the article/source that states tnat Tony Tan ensured that his son did not apply for a PSC scholarship or that the PSC did not award the scholarship to his son?

    • FK says:

      “Further, I am impressed Dr Tony Tan ensure that the scholarship was not from PSC for the son, hence, ensuring no favouritism from Govt.”
      Our PM and his son are both SAF scholars, is ajohor implying “favouritism from Govt.”? Why didn’t PT apply for the SAF or PSC scholarship if he is so talent?

  3. ajohor says:


    To reply to your charge of favouritism:-

    Tony Tan had resigned from his Cabinet post in 1985 way before the scholarship was awarded.

    It would be easier for your charge if his son was awarded the OCBC or PSC scholarships which noticeably was not given.

    You seem to expect the scholarship committee to bend over backwards to exclude any sons/daughters of prominent officials/rich people from the above scholarship. To me the fault lies with the foundation who should than set a income level background test.

    I am aware of such for the named scholarships since you can always with guarantors for such recipients and discussions with such committee members. Such committee members required normally such progenies to really excel in their presentation and academic interviews well and above beyond normal,

    Frankly, your arguments are not any different by what the blogger Senang Diri had directed the arguments for the White Horse critics/cynics.


  4. sgcynic says:

    Getting confused…
    Since “Tony Tan had resigned from his Cabinet post in 1985 way before the scholarship was awarded”, how did he manage to impress people by ” ensure that the scholarship was not from PSC for the son, hence, ensuring no favouritism from Govt.”?

  5. ajohor says:


    Apologies, my replies are to the blog author.

    There is no direct article in regards to your queries, just my thoughts based on the fact of status of Tony Tan and family background.


  6. Retired Taxi Driver says:

    To ajohor:

    Dr Tony Tan should have had the decency and moral conscience to pay for his own child’s education since he could afford it. He also deprived other poor families whose children who could not afford the cost of university education.

    Dr Patrick Tan should also have had the decency and moral conscience to reject one of the scholarships.

    Dr Patrick Tan should also have taken the Hippocratic Oath. One part of the Oath states that “I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.”

  7. Tabea says:

    The whole thing is a bit dubious! First of all, when PSC gives out scholarships for medicine, they are ALWAYS for NUS. PSC does not give out overseas scholarships for medicine. Not even to MM’s daughter.

    Also, does anyone remember that Patrick Tan’s A level results were far from spectacular? It was something like 3As and a B if I remember correctly. That’s a perfectly good result, but not President’s Scholarship calibre. In fact looking at the list of his achievements as listed in the newspaper that year, I remember thinking this was a surprisingly mediocre candidate.

  8. defennder says:

    Looks like ajohor has commented on your blog too.

    Let me just to explain why Patrick Tan might not have been awarded or even applied for a PSC or OCBC scholarship. All these comes with bonds. LCKS on the other hand is clearly not bonded at all. So of course if I were the scholar, would I prefer a bonded or non-bonded scholarship?

    BTW I wonder why people think Senang Diri wrote an impressive piece on this. Not once did the author discuss anything about the white horse policy, apart from his personal experience.

    He spends a lot of time instead lambasting people who inquire into whether certain individuals were given privileges saying that enemies are at Singapore’s gates and we must not allow rumours like these to distract Singaporeans. What a boatload of hogwash. It sounds all too familiar, like the way a certain operation spectrum used to be justified on helpless social activists who were supposedly out to subvert the state.

    In fact I just re-read the piece again. Yep just clarified it said nothing about the white horse policy. You would expect a former ST journalist who specialised in defence matters to shed more light on the matter. But true to the spirit of a government controlled newspaper, he spends all his time evading the issue and bringing up irrelevant concerns. Hoho.

    • thetwophilo says:

      Quite late. Let me ask an obvious question.
      The PS goes hand in hand with the PSC OMS (Wikipedia).
      Explain why you believe he got a PS, without accepting
      an OMS? Irregular, isn’t it? What is your source? And there
      is no bond for a PS?

      Anyway, this is only part of the story. The more crucial part
      concerns his lengthy leave of absence to study in the US.
      Frankly, to put it bluntly, the leeway he got to defer his NS
      to obtain his qualification smacks of the SAF being treated
      like someone’s grandfather’s army! Seriously.

  9. defennder says:

    Also it’s highly misleading to claim as ajohor did (a neutral voter, really?) that TT resigned from his Cabinet post in 1985. He only left as Finance Minister that year, to take up the post of education minister and health minister. All this is easily verifed on Wikipedia.

    Hello, 1988 was about the time when LKY was looking for a PM successor. In fact one of the books I read said that LKY had actually intended to hand over in 1988, but GCT wanted to delay it 2 years or something.

    Somehow did it slip “neutral” voter ajohor’s mind that TT was LKY’s first choice as PM?

    I guess that means I’m neutral too.

  10. defennder says:

    Well for that you have to ask someone else. I can’t explain why he would have gotten a PS without a PSC scholarship. Unless of course the LCKS counts as one. According to the LCK Foundation page, it says that the LCK scholarship selection is done by the PSC.

    • thetwophilo says:

      Where did you get the idea then that one can opt for the PS without the OMS? Very odd and ‘irregular’ if true. One scenario I can think of (and I stress it’s only my own conjecture, for the sake of ‘creative’ day dreaming!) was PT was not good enough for the PS award (this mentioned by a poster Tabea bleow), and a ‘compromise’ was reached to embellish his status for the purpose of helping his application to foreign universities, but without the cash award that would come with the OMS, SAF, Police scholarship. Possible?

      According to the LCK site, from 1984 the scholarships were changed to one for undergraduate studies, and from 1985, the selection committee changed to one comprising two NUS profs and two directors.

  11. ajohor says:

    FBD, TB

    Specific for the PSC and OCBC issue

    PSC/OCBC comes with bond , considering he spend 12 years with DSO, does that not negate your contention, he wanted to avoid bond.
    Further, if he had been awarded the above 2, you would “baying” favouritism since he was previously Education Minister and his Dad was on the BOD of OCBC.

    To Retired Taxi Driver,

    In reply, do you control your children till the day you die,

    Further, as stated the President Scholarship is just a Merit scholarship which means it does not help to pay for any studies and if you wish to know, the quantum given is less than $10K.

    For the Loke Cheng Kim Scholarship, than why do you not write to the foundation to include a Income criteria, frankly, it does not make sense since it is upto founder’s intentions eg Rhodes, Fulbright, Colombo plan, etc.

    Frankly, it is rather distasteful considering although he has disruption, what all commentators forget is that He is Required to Serve his NS obligations within the SAF during all his long term breaks (which means no long semester term breaks) . MINDEF does not let go of this, as SAF scholarship holders also do this during their studies or PSC scholars, having seen them.


    • thetwophilo says:

      I agree with furry, you seem to be missing the point -deliberately or otherwise. Let’s reiterate. The key issues are: He took a LCK scholarship when his family could well afford to send him for studies on their own resources. The reason why he didn’t get or accept a PSC award is not revealed by him, for reasons known only to himself and his family. But, as in a court of law, his silence may be taken against him, by default, when he has all the opportunity to make a clean breast of it. He still can, by the way. Next, this is a more important point, is that he has got a deferment period that is practically UNHEARD of before/unprecedented, and this was to date not explained by Mindef nor PT himself. It is only natural that people feel there is a lot more than meet the eyes, and their self imposed silence – PT and Mindef or TT – do not encourage or inspire confidence in people, esp. NSmen past, present and future, in the administration by the authorities of such a vital institution as NS.

    • A says:

      “Frankly, it is rather distasteful considering although he has disruption, what all commentators forget is that He is Required to Serve his NS obligations within the SAF during all his long term breaks (which means no long semester term breaks) . MINDEF does not let go of this, as SAF scholarship holders also do this during their studies or PSC scholars, having seen them.”

      No, not quite. Only SAF scholars (i.e. regulars) will return during their summer break for training/development programmes. PSC scholars, on the other hand, will not resume their NS obligations until after their studies. In fact, they are not allowed to serve NS during their summer break (see: http://www.ifaq.gov.sg/psc/apps/fcd_faqmain.aspx?qst=2fN7e274RAp%2bbUzLdEL%2fmCxs7iwcgv8gv2atNDOvsLDa%2fdb9LN9HPvFzsnEhwhLc%2beujotX820whM2PCzzJVxkqjyN79eDDmaHy28EDIR2SZoGDC8Dcv%2bkm8NMGXcq4odcAdWneWN%2f7uK%2fUp%2f0GMPjaWBRI9LGKKByRD0X6NUm2LSmAgrELKkx%2b9N3NPw3CdUxlnET2IJ1ngVMRnMnjIDCHa8eMFgvhGJMAJDml6%2fQc%3d).

      As Dr Tan was not an SAF regular, it seems that he was not, as you say, required to serve NS during long term breaks. In any case, this is irrelevant to the matter at hand.

  12. KM says:

    Juz a few casual comments:
    (1) why was TT’s son able to enjoy the honour of President scholarship without being bonded down by a OMS or SAF/SPF scholarship? In 1991, Chin Chee Whye became the first person to reject the President scholarship as he didnt want to be bonded, but subsequently he did get the LCK scholarship. (ie. different rules for commoners and royalties?)
    (2) When TT left the cabinet in 1991, LKY explained tat TT did so to earn more money in private sector for his children’s overseas education. If his son was already funded by LCK scholarship, why did he need to do this? Is it to fund the USA medical school phase of his son’s education? (who knows, perhaps LCK foundation paid for that phase as well?)

  13. defennder says:

    ajohor, I think you’re not getting the point. The fact that he later went to work with the government doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying to avoid the bond. Come on, I had friends who say they will not work for the Government in any capacity when they were younger but who later end up as civil servants. Any contradictions there? People do change their minds and career paths over time.

    I don’t know if PT applied for OCBC or any PSC scholarship. So never mind what others might say if things had turned out differently. I assumed PT and the PSC made their choices without any consideration of what people will say in future.

    What we do know is that he didn’t get any but instead got a bond-free scholarship and a President Scholarship. This effectively meant he had a good offer which allowed him to disrupt to go overseas for 12 years where many many other people could not.

    You, a neutral voter? Don’t make me laugh.

  14. ajohor says:


    Well, yes, i am neutral voter and well you must be a demi god if you can see my intentions (smile)

    Likewise, in that case, you would be a partisan than.
    and you do not wish to see my point of view.

    What i find distasteful is when people besmirch and imply based on parental progenies on either end of the political spectrum.

    In case, you are curious, yes, i find both Sylvia lim and Mr Chen both honourable and make pertinent arguments.

    in case, you forget, politics is the art of compromise.


  15. defennder says:

    ajohor, it appears you’re not reading the article properly. This and other blog sources have pointed out that Dr Patrick Tan received very favourable treatment based on publicly available information. They have not, as you seem to imply, concluded he must have been favoured solely because he was Tony Tan’s son. That’s a stupid argument I would agree, but no one is making that.

  16. Great review! You actually overviewed some interesting things on your blog. I came across it by using Bing and I’ve got to admit that I already subscribed to the site, will be following you on my iphone 🙂

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