The 5 Biggest Stories of 2015: How NUS Played a Part In History

It’s been an eventful year for Singapore, which has experienced a roller coaster ride of epic highs and lows.

From mourning the death of its greatest state leader, to celebrating the significant milestone of its 50th year of independence.

Here are the top five stories of 2015 in which Singapore’s “most loved school” played a part in.

5. Xi Jinping’s historic visit

1.1 Xi Jinping visit 1

One of the most powerful men in the world. That tag was enough to attract more than 200 students to gather outside the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music to witness Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit. While the main programme of Mr Xi’s visit to Singapore was his historic meeting with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, the Chinese leader’s detour to NUS was one of the biggest events to have occurred within our premises in 2015.

4. Clinching medals at the SEA Games

1.5 2015 SEA Games-min

Arguably the biggest sporting event held in Singapore in recent memory, the Southeast Asian Games involved around 17,000 volunteers in various capacities–including many from NUS.

Not only that, around 60 NUS students and alumni clinched more than 30 medals for the home team. Our NUS athletes participated in sporting events such as canoeing, floorball and wushu. These include Engineering undergraduate Mervyn Toh, who clinched a gold in kayaking, and Business School alumni Jasmine Ser, who won five medals in shooting.

3. SG50 and Rag & Flag celebrations


To be with the people. That was the motto of this year’s NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) Rag & Flag, which was held at The Float@Marina Bay for the very first time. The event, which also celebrated NUS’ 110th anniversary, was held on 7 August – two days before Singapore’s own 50th birthday – as part of the Golden Jubilee Weekend and National Day Parade celebrations.

Homegrown talent Gentle Bones performing at the Rag Day event. (Credit)

The event was indeed a highly memorable public event that saw stellar performances by YouTube star Christina Grimmie, and homegrown bands such as The Sam Willows and Gentle Bones.

Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine won the Best Faculty title for their Rag Day performance. (Credit)

Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, and a combined performance by Kent Ridge Hall and Sheares Hall, clinched gold as the Best Faculty and Best Halls respectively for their stunning performances. Most importantly, a total of S$451,120 was raised for charity, exceeding its initial target of $450,000. #achievementunlocked

2. Double the elections, double the drama


It was supposed to be another watershed election, in which the Opposition would make further inroads after the 2011 General Elections (GE). In that regard, GE 2015 proved to confirm the status quo: that Singaporeans prefer the stability provided by the long-reigning People’s Action Party (PAP) government, instead of giving the Opposition more voice in Parliament.

But GE 2015 also became the trending topic for NUS students for another reason, when two professors, Associate Professor Daniel Goh from the Sociology Department, and Professor Paul Tambyah of the Department of Medicine, joined the electoral fray.

(Check out The Ridge‘s compilation of the 11 most memorable quotes of GE2015 – Part 1Part 2)

1.3 GE 2015 Daniel Goh-min
Associate Professor Daniel Goh speaking at a Workers’ Party conference. (Credit)

Mr Goh, who is a member of the Workers’ Party (WP) and its Central Executive Council, was in the spotlight when he became the subject of hate mail, which was eventually proven to be fake. Although the sociologist did not win a seat, the scandal considerably upped his stature amongst NUS students and the public.

Prof Tambyah at a Singapore Democratic Party rally. (Credit)

Similarly, Prof Tambyah gained much popularity amongst students after running for the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), in spite of his eventual loss in the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

L-R: Loo Weng Heng and Christopher Chia ran for the position of NUSSU President earlier this year. (Check out The Ridge‘s exclusive interview with the presidential candidates.)

On campus, NUS students were involved in another election – to cast their ballots for NUSSU’s Internal and External Elections. Usually, the annual elections tend to be a quiet affair involving a small portion of the student body. However, the election this year was a high-profile one, largely due to the visible public rivalry between opposing teams, Team U and A Union That Cares.

(Check out our coverage of the NUSSU Elections: Who’s Running & Why You Should Care)


Thankfully, the rivalry ended well, as elected candidates from both teams are now working together in the new NUSSU Executive Committee.

1. Lee Kuan Yew’s passing


Without a doubt, this was the most significant happening in Singapore in 2015. Many young Singaporeans had often joked how Mr Lee Kuan Yew seemed to be immortal – but when he eventually passed on, none of us were joking, for we all appreciated his immense and irreplaceable contributions to the nation.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s State Funeral service was held at the University Cultural Centre on March 29. (Credit)

For NUS students, that the state funeral was held at the University Cultural Centre (UCC) made the entire week of national mourning hit closer to home. Earlier, NUS had also held a Memorial Ceremony on 24 March, which was attended by more than 1,000 people, including the University’s Board Members, senior management, students, faculty, staff and alumni. Another 2,500 watched its live webcast.


Mr Lee’s passing paved the way for an unprecedented outpouring of tributes to the man, both on social media and in daily conversations. The week of national mourning also brought about numerous unforgettable images, such as that of Mr Lee’s close friend Henry Kissinger weeping in front of the casket, and a servicewoman helping to wipe tears off of a Guard-of-Honour who could not contain his emotions.

What do you think should have made the list? Share with us in the comments below or on Facebook!