Chew Kheng Chuan

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CHEW Kheng Chuan (Chinese: 周庆全), or ‘KC’ Chew, is an independent consultant in philanthropy in Singapore. He was appointed Chief University Advancement Officer at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore on May 2009, a post he held until February 2012.[1] At NTU, he oversaw the Communications, Development and Alumni Affairs functions.[2]


During his appointment at NTU in June 2009, the University received its single largest gift ever [3] – S$150 million from the Lee Foundation, towards the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine to be jointly established with Imperial College London. With the enhanced matching from the Singapore Government, the sum was boosted to S$400 million, making it the largest private gift ever recorded in Singapore.[4]

Prior to joining NTU, he was the Vice-President of Endowment and Institutional Development at the National University of Singapore (NUS) (2007–2008).[1] He was also the Founding Director of NUS’s Development Office (2003–2006).[1] During his time at NUS, KC Chew provided leadership to the Development Office which saw NUS raising S$1.5 billion, more than four times what it had raised in the previous 12 years.[2]

Acknowledged as one of the most successful fundraisers in Asia,[5][6] KC Chew is Chairman of The Substation Ltd and a Board Member of the Intercultural Theatre Institute (formerly the Theatre Training & Research (Singapore) Ltd).

In 2002, KC Chew co-authored and edited Chew Boon Lay: A Family Traces its History, a multifaceted work that combines a biography of the noted immigrant pioneer Chew Boon Lay, with an exploration of the contributions made by his family to the region.[7]

In 1985, he founded Wordmaker Design Pte Ltd, a communications and branding firm, and served as its Managing Director until 2000.

KC Chew is also a former Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience. He was one of a group of 22 persons arrested under Singapore’s Internal Security Act, on the grounds that they were members of a clandestine communist-front network.[8][9] The head of the group was said to be Vincent Cheng, a Catholic lay worker.[10]

Operation Spectrum, popularly referred to as the ‘Marxist conspiracy’, was accused by Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs of planning to “subvert the existing social and political system in Singapore through communist united front tactics to establish a communist state.”[11] By the end of 1987, all but one of the detainees had been released, subject to restrictions on their freedom of movement.[12]

In April 1988, eight were re-arrested, following their publication of a signed public statement denying the accusations against them and alleging mistreatment in detention.[13] KC Chew, who was not among the signatories but had allegedly helped edit, print and distribute the statement, was also re-arrested separately.[14] Most of the detainees were subsequently released in stages in late 1988 and throughout 1989, after signing statutory declarations (while in custody) recanting earlier allegations.[15]

KC Chew has steadfastly denied being a Marxist, and refuted all allegations that he was involved in a conspiracy against the government.

In his testimony before the United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations on 7 July 1998, Eric Schwartz, Program Director of Asia Watch, observed: “In the absence of any credible evidence of a conspiracy to promote subversion, what emerges from accusations such as these is an exceptional government hostility towards vigorous non-governmental organization involvement in public affairs.”[16]

KC Chew, in a statement before the Internal Security Act Advisory Board after 12 weeks of detention, declared: “I am a democrat, a believer in an open and democratic polity and in the virtues of an open and accountable government ... A citizen of a democracy, to be worthy of that society, has not just the right, but indeed the duty to participate in the political life of his or her society.”[17]

KC Chew was the first Singaporean to be admitted to Harvard College, where he graduated with an AB cum laude in Social Studies in 1982. He has served as Chairman of the Harvard Alumni Interviewing Committee in Singapore since 1983. In recognition of his longstanding service as an alumni interviewer, he received the Hiram Hunn Memorial Schools & Scholarships Award from Harvard College in 2005.[18]


He has three children.


  1. ^ a b c Mr Chew Kheng Chuan appointed Chief University Advancement Officer of NTU (29 May 2009) [1]
  2. ^ a b He aims to boost NTU brand, The Straits Times (16 June 2009)
  3. ^ Lee Foundation makes $150 million gift to NTU's new medical school (4 January 2011)[2]
  4. ^ Record $400 million for NTU's medical school, The Straits Times (5 January 2011)[3]
  5. ^ Starting from scratch: Fund-raising lessons learned in Singapore, The Chronicle of Higher Education (18 January 2011)[4]
  6. ^ Rating plan benefits both charities and donors, The Straits Times (10 January 2011) [5]
  7. ^ Ong, Chwee Im; Chew, Kheng Chuan & Chew, Evelyn. (2002). Chew Boon Lay: A Family Traces its History. Singapore: The Compiler. ISBN 981-04-7740-6
  8. ^ 16 held in security swoop, The Straits Times (22 May 1987)
  9. ^ Government detains six more, The Straits Times (21 June 1987)
  10. ^ Marxist Conspiracy, National Library Board Singapore Infopedia
  11. ^ Singapore, The Encyclopedia. Editions Didier Millet and National Heritage Board (2006) p.339
  12. ^ Government frees five more detainees, The Straits Times (21 December 1987) [6]
  13. ^ Joint statement a ploy to discredit Government, The Straits Times (29 April 1988)[7]
  14. ^ Shared the sentiments of the statement, The Straits Times (30 April 1988)[8]
  15. ^ Two under ISA detention for Marxist conspiracy freed early, The Straits Times (21 February 1989)[9]
  16. ^ Testimony by Eric Shwartz, Program Director of Asia Watch, before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations, 7 July 1988
  17. ^ Chew Kheng Chuan, A statement of beliefs, Far Eastern Economic Review (22 October 1987)
  18. ^ Hiram Hunn Awards, Harvard Magazine (September-October 2005)

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