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Mrs. Loke with a young Lee Pan Hon, who went on to become
Leader of the Hallé Orchestra in Britain.

The Foundation

The Foundation was incorporated on 17 April 1968.  Its objectives are:

  1. To foster, develop and advance education of all kinds for the improvement of the standard of human living and social well-being and the relief of human suffering in the Republic of Singapore.
  2. To grant and finance scholarships for research and higher learning at renowned institutions in Singapore, UK, USA, Australia and elsewhere.

The Foundation's Scholarship contained generous provisions to cover airfares, tuition fees, a personal maintenance allowance and clothing grant and other costs.  Apart from the obvious requirements of an excellent academic record, character and personality, candidates were required to be Singapore citizens.  Selection was made by the Public Service Commission, and since the earlier awards were for postgraduate studies they were sometimes of short duration, but all scholars were required to serve the Government for a number of years on the completion of their studies.

By 1984 considerable changes were being introduced.  The Scholarships were now being awarded for undergraduate studies and were extended to include permanent residents of Singapore, and the fields of study were widened to cover areas such as music and the performing arts.

In 1985, with the help of the Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Singapore, a committee was set up to take over the selection of scholars, and it is this committee, comprising two professors from the NUS and two or more directors of the Foundation, which currently makes the selection.  An advertisement appears in the local paper in March immediately after the A level results have been announced and the number of applicants has been known to be as high as 500 to 600 in a year.  The Foundation’s Scholarship is one of the few in Singapore which carry no bonding requirement.  From 1968 to 1984 twenty-five awards were made and from 1985 to the present there have been a further seventy-one awards.  Awards have been made to students of music and ballet, as well as in fields such as medicine, law, sociology, English, engineering, economics and molecular biology.

Further changes were introduced, to apply to the 2010 intake of scholars:

  1. The Board decided to apply the Scholarship particularly toward the Natural Sciences, Environment, Horticulture, Humanities and the Performing Arts.  With the advent of many scholarships in the more mainstream subjects, it was felt that these were areas not only under-represented in other scholarships awards, but also increasingly relevant to modern day Singapore society. These are also areas long championed by Lady Yuen Peng McNeice, the Board’s long-serving Chairman and daughter of the Founder of the Scholarship, Mrs. Loke Cheng-Kim.
  2. The Board would also like to encourage applications from those who show outstanding commitment and ability within their chosen field, but who may not have achieved uniformly excellent A level results*.  In order to better identify such applicants, the Board will require each candidate to provide a personal statement with maximum of 300 words to support their application. Considerable weight will be attached to the subsequent interview in which the candidate will be invited to put forward a plausible case for selection to a Scholarship.

* It was however still a minimum requirement for a candidate to have been accepted for admission to a course at an established local or overseas university in the 2011/2012 academic year.

Mrs Loke visiting a primary school.

Loke Cheng-Kim

Mrs. Loke Cheng-Kim
The woman whose charitable impulse began all this was born Lim Cheng-Kim in Penang, the eldest daughter of a middle-class Chinese family which had been established in Malaya for generations. Her mother, Soon Kui Sim, was a determined and energetic woman and an important influence in her daughter’s life. In spite of being unable to read or write, she took over the management of her husband’s tin mines when he was forced to retire through ill-health, quickly devising her own system of hieroglyphics in order to keep the accounts.

Madam Soon was determined that her own daughter would not be illiterate, and the young Cheng-Kim was sent to school in Kuala Lumpur, an unusual step for a girl at the beginning of the twentieth century and one which necessitated a long train ride every day from her home in Rawang, in the State of Selangor.

Cheng-Kim was married to Loke Yew, one of Malaya’s leading industrialists.  Only three years later, after the birth of three children, she was widowed.  Concern for the health of her son, Loke Wan Tho, led her to take her children to Switzerland in 1929, where they attended school for four years.  On her return to Kuala Lumpur she took an interest in social affairs and particularly in the welfare and education of children, devoting much time to a school for 200 poor children and becoming President of the Chinese Women’s Athletic Association.  When war broke out in China she became President of the Chinese Relief Fund Ladies’ Section in Kuala Lumpur.  Evacuated to India at the fall of Singapore, she spent the war years in Bombay.  The Cathay Organisation, of which she was a director, had completed the construction of the Cathay Building, Singapore’s first skyscraper, just before the Japanese occupation and on the liberation of Singapore in 1945, the building was used by Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten as his headquarters.  Returning to Singapore in 1946, Mrs Loke was presented by Lord Mountbatten with a plaque commemorating his occupancy of the building.

While still involved in the running of the Cathay Organisation and the management of the Organisation’s Cathay Hotel and Ocean Park Hotel, Mrs. Loke was twice elected President of the Singapore Chinese Ladies’ Association and she continued to take an interest in education.  Over the years, many students were helped through her generosity, from violinist Lee Pan Hon, who went on to become Leader of the Hallé Orchestra in Britain, to the son of a bus conductor who received money for his early schooling and later for his degree course at Nanyang University.  Though she was involved in the world of commerce all her life, her interests always extended beyond that world.  She was a lover and collector of art, a keen gardener, and a generous hostess.

Mrs. Loke died in 1981 at the age of 86.  The Foundation which bears her name is a legacy which continues to benefit the young people of Singapore and a fitting memorial to a remarkable woman.

Mrs. Loke and daughter Lady McNeice
visiting Hong Kong film studios
Mrs. Loke "dressing up" in Fiji
Mrs. Loke promoting the film " King Kong"

Applying for the Scholarship


The Loke Cheng-Kim Foundation invites students who have applied for admission to courses leading to first degrees conferred by established local and overseas universities in the 2023/2024 academic year to apply for scholarship awards.


Applicants should be Singapore citizens or permanent residents and should not be current holders of other scholarship awards or grants. The Board is looking for applications from candidates intending to study Natural and Environmental Sciences, as well as Pure Sciences (Biology, Physics and Chemistry) and Pure Humanities (Geography, History, Literature). We hope to find applicants who are committed to pursuing a life path in conservation, sustainable development, natural and cultural heritage or otherwise betterment of life on earth in all its aspects, whether as scientists, innovators, field workers or other appropriate professionals. The scholarship is intended to provide outstanding young people with a unique opportunity to take their first steps along that path.


Candidates must have a strong record of academic and co-curricular achievement. Consideration will be given only to those who show a capacity for independent thought, together with a deep and genuine commitment to their respective chosen fields. This must be demonstrated by knowledge, activities and initiatives in those fields, outside of the framework of their school curriculum. A mere declared interest or nominal participation in a co-curricular activity in any such field will not be sufficient. Candidates will be asked to submit with their prescribed application form a personal statement (maximum 500 words) stating their career aims and aspirations, and how they see their chosen course of study as helping to achieve them.


A scholarship’s annual value will cover fees and book allowances, initial clothing allowance, maintenance allowance and one-time return economy class airfare and is tenable for the whole undergraduate course of study leading to a first degree.


Applications must be made on the prescribed form downloadable from the Foundation’s official website (www.lokefoundation.com.sg) or obtainable from:-

The Secretary
The Loke Cheng-Kim Foundation
c/o Tricor Singapore Pte Ltd
80 Robinson Road #02-00
Singapore 068898

Before downloading the form to apply for the Scholarship, candidates are urged to take a moment to re-read the advertisement above carefully. Applicants should consider if the declared scope and objectives of the scholarship for this year’s award are a match for their own interests and intended career path.

10 March 2023

Applicants shortlisted for interview will be notified by 28 April 2023

Download Application Form


For applicants interested in a Bachelor of Environmental Studies course offered by the NUS, see www.envstudies.nus.edu.sg.

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