Many of Singapore’s leaders are U of T grads, thanks to a unique scholarship
Over his 45 years as a public servant in Singapore, Philip Yeo has made many contributions to his country’s economy – and he says they were all set in motion by his U of T industrial engineering education and a one-of-a-kind scholarship.
Yeo’s education was funded by the Long-Term Scholarship Programme of the Colombo Plan, an Asia-Pacific Region intergovernmental organization that promotes the economic and social growth of underdeveloped countries in the region. The scholarship program was established in 1951 in part to rebuild civil societies in post–Second World War Southeast Asia. Talented young people studied in several different Commonwealth countries, returning home post-graduation. Many have greatly advanced their countries: the program has produced hundreds of thousands of scholars, including many scientists, doctors, engineers, educators and administrators.
After completing his U of T degree, Yeo (BASc 1970, LLD 1997) returned to Singapore and served in government, and the experience sparked a lifelong interest in public service. Working in various leadership roles, he has helped Singapore excel in areas such as information technology, biomedical sciences, aerospace and defense; successfully invest in overseas infrastructure development; and form economically strategic partnerships with other nations.
While Canada has departed from the scholarship program, its legacy remains. In October, Yeo was one of multiple Colombo Plan scholars from U of T and other universities in Canada feted at a Canadian Alumni Singapore event celebrating 50 years of Canada-Singapore diplomatic relations.