Adelaidean - News from the University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide Australia
April 2005 Issue
Current issue (PDF) | Archive | Editorial Contact

Graduate's fate sealed in pewter


In 1964, Yong Poh Kon was a 19-year-old Malaysian who arrived in South Australia to begin a Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Adelaide.

Today, he is now known as Datuk Yong Poh Kon and he is in charge of the internationally renowned Royal Selangor International pewter company - but clearly, his university experiences 40 years ago have gone some way to shaping what has become a highly successful career.

Datuk Yong, who gave the graduation address at the University's Malaysian offshore graduation ceremony last month, said his time at Adelaide was beneficial in preparing him for his career at the company started by his grandfather, Yong Koon Seong, in 1885.

"I remember it took a long time to get from Kuala Lumpur to Adelaide - first, we had to fly to Singapore, then from Singapore to Perth, an overnight stay in Perth, and then a flight in a propeller plane to Adelaide," he said.

"When I got there, there were students from the university's Malaysian Students' Association waiting to meet me at the airport and it was nice to know that I wasn't alone."

Datuk Yong went on to complete a first-class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering by the end of 1967, but said one of the most important parts of his time the University of Adelaide was after completing his scheduled courses.

"Back then the graduation ceremonies were in May, so after I completed my studies I still had four or five months in Adelaide before I could graduate," Datuk Yong said.

"So I spent a lot of time in the first few months of 1968 with Professor Ross Miller in Chemical Engineering, and he was very generous in letting me use their labs and facilities.

"I did a lot of testing and experiments for the process of manufacturing pewter, such as experimenting with alloys, and so I was able to go back to Malaysia after I graduated with a lot more information and knowledge about how to improve our production processes."

Since Datuk Yong began work at Royal Selangor in mid-1968, he has overseen the rise of the company to be one of the world's finest and largest pewter manufacturers. It produced the medals for the 1998 Commonwealth Games hosted by Malaysia and many other important events and occasions, and has stores across the world.

Story and photo by Ben Osborne

Bookmark and Share

Datuk Yong Poh Kon, Managing Director of Royal Selangor

Datuk Yong Poh Kon, Managing Director of Royal Selangor
Full Image (45.97K)

Media Contact:

Media Office
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814

For more news on the research and educational achievements of the University & our alumni read the University's bi-annual magazine, Lumen.