Where are Angus Ross winners now?

 Where are Angus Ross winners now?

Two weeks ago, former Hwa Chong Institution student Raymond Scott Lee clinched the Angus Ross Prize, given to the best-performing non-British candidate in the A-Level English literature examination.

This makes it the 15th year in a row that a Singaporean student has received the prestigious accolade, which was first awarded in 1987.

Past winners include the late theatre actress Emma Yong and Los Angeles-based freelance journalist Alison de Souza.

SundayLife! catches up with five other winners to find out if literature and reading are still a part of their lives.


Ms Mavis Chionh, a former Hwa Chong Junior College student, was the first winner of the prize.

The 46-year-old is the chief prosecutor at the Attorney- General's Chambers and the lead prosecutor in the ongoing trial involving the City Harvest Church.

She is also a member of the Competition Commission of Singapore and has served on the board of the Dover Park Hospice.

She says: "I still read, though not as much as I would like to. Most of the time during the week, what I read is work- related.

On weekends, I try to decompress with a good novel, mostly Scandinavian crime fiction like the works of Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbro and Jussi Adler-Olsen.

Right now, I'm reading a rather strange but compelling novel by British author Jessie Burton titled The Miniaturist.

Literature is often a study of the complex and the unquantifiable - human emotions and aspirations, in particular. I think we need that balance and insight.

We want ultimately to build not just better machines or taller buildings but also a more sensitive and intelligent community, one with the ability to empathise and to dream.



Ms Peggy Pao-Keerthi Pei Yu took the 2001 examination when she was a student in Raffles Junior College.

The married 32-year-old is a deputy senior state counsel and deputy public prosecutor with the Attorney-General's Chambers, and is currently on secondment to a private organisation.

With a group of friends, she started an informal arts circle - called Artizens - last month for young professionals with an interest in the visual arts.

She says: "Literature, books and reading are still very much a part of my life. I read almost every night before I go to sleep and try to read books, not just blogs, magazines or news articles.

I also love to discuss books. My younger sister and I have a mini informal book circle going, though she often gives me grief about not finishing the books quickly enough.

In both literary writing and the law, the meanings and nuances of words matter deeply.

The practice of law requires one to tussle with words every day, so I think it's helpful that I enjoy doing that.

Due to my background in the humanities, I've also became very interested in visual arts. Through Artizens - as in 'art citizens' - my friends and I hope to grow a community of peers who are aware of, engaged in and supportive of Singapore's thriving visual arts scene, notwithstanding the daily demands of their professional lives."





Dr Iza Hussin took her A levels in 1995 when she was a student at Raffles Junior College.

Her father is Dr Hussin Mutalib, a political science lecturer at the National University of Singapore. Now 38, she is a lecturer at the University of Cambridge's department of politics and international studies, as well as a permanent fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Her research interests include Islam, law and comparative politics. She has a bachelor's and master's degree from Harvard University, as well as a PhD from the University of Washington.

She lives in Cambridge with her husband and their two young children. She says: "I read, write and teach for a living. There's little time to read or write for fun any more. When I do read for fun, it's often with my kids - we read about science, maths and poetry, in Malay and English, sometimes in Arabic and French.

I've had the benefit of excellent teaching at elite universities in the United States and the United Kingdom. But I can truly say that the teaching I benefited from at Raffles Junior College - in the humanities programme - is still among the best I have experienced."





Mr Paul Khoo, who took the 1994 examination at Serangoon Junior College, was the first winner to come from a neighbourhood JC.

Now 38, he is the chief executive of Raison Consulting, a new media education company which works with organisations to design learning programmes and family-oriented online campaigns.

He is married with three kids - Mikayla, nine, Matthew, seven, and Mark, four (in photo with Mr Khoo). He says: "I still read, but mostly e-books and digital media, and for functional reasons like developing my business and learning about digital and educational trends.

As a working adult, there's not much time to appreciate literature for what it is. I guess the one canonical piece of literature I still end up chewing on more than most is the Bible.

I used to dabble in lyric writing and producing my own indie music.

Although I'm still part of a music group with my church, most of my creative endeavours have taken a backseat since I started a family.

Nowadays, my creativity mostly goes into work and inventing games for my kids to play."



This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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