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The art of letting go

29 April 2013



Mr Sadasivan and Ms Chong (right) at the forum

Three months ago, Ms Chong Siak Ching and her family witnessed an aurora borealis while in Iceland. Seeing the natural light display in the sky against the usual black and white scenery in the Nordic European country reinforced Ms Chong's decision to leave the business world and step into the colourful world of the arts. The NUS Board of Trustees member was sharing her personal experience at this month's U@live forum organised by the Office of Alumni Relations on 24 April.

"Sometimes, our reluctance to let go also stops us from pursuing new models of success, new definitions of happiness and new perspectives of the world," said the NUS alumna who obtained her Bachelor degree in Estate Management with Honours and later earned a Master's degree in Business Administration.

Responding to Mr Viswa Sadasivan, Chairman of the U@live organising committee, as to whether the notion of letting go is not just about things but also about battles and job-related matters, Ms Chong concurred. In the leadership realm, she noted that it is best to "initiate the change rather than be the change of circumstances."

Currently, Ms Chong is the CEO of the National Art Gallery and Head of the Visual Arts Cluster, Singapore. She said that "the visual arts scene is very exciting" with art being made more accessible to the general public. Singapore's art eco-system is starting to take shape as evidenced by the spike of visitors to museums and an increase in the number of art companies and museums. Among the new projects are the National Art Gallery, slated to open in 2015, which will be the largest in Southeast Asia and will specialise in art from the region.

Previously, she was at the helm of Ascendas, a company with presence in 10 countries across Asia, as its President and CEO; and Deputy CEO of JTC Corporation, a statutory body of the Singapore government.

Asked by a member of the audience about how the arts can help individuals to let go when faced with health issues, Ms Chong, who is also a board member of Jurong Health Services, believed that "art and even music can help a lot in healing." She shared how representatives from the Jurong Hospital had previously visited the Ascendas office to see how art is brought to spaces. This in turn provided ideas as to how art can be brought to the hospital to help with healing.

Initiated by the NUS Alumni Advisory Board, U@live is spearheaded by NUS alumni and the Office of Alumni Relations. The forum featuring prominent alumni speakers is webcast live to the student population on campus.


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