Wing Chung (Michael) Fok interviews, 2 and 8 July 2020

Dublin Core


Wing Chung (Michael) Fok interviews, 2 and 8 July 2020


Michael FOK's Family background and as a Columbo Student in UWA back in 1967


Family background, early life and education in Singapore. Keppel Shipyard. Columbo Scholarship. Impressions of Perth on arrival in Perth in 1967. Student house in Loftus Street, Nedlands. The Engineering Faculty at UWA.
Settling into college life. Student activities and social life. Move to Kingswood College. The sausage protest. Greasy’s Hamburger Shop in Hampden Road.
Rivalry between the Engineering and Law Students. Tug of war. Pranks. College life. Vietnam War protest on Stirling Highway. Mixing with students from other faculties. Meeting his future wife.


FOK, Wing Chung (Michael)


University of Western Australia Historical Society


Copyright University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Julia Wallis


Wing Chung (Michael) FOK


Arts Building in the University of Western Australia.

Original Format

MP3 files

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

00:00 Introduction by Julia Wallis
00:49 Michael was born in Singapore to a family of Chinese background. He has an older and a younger brother and a younger sister. Michael’s family lived in a housing estate that was owned by the Keppel Shipyard where Michael’s father worked. Michael’s grandfather and uncle also worked here. Initially the family lived in a flat. When Michael’s father was promoted, the family moved to a house in the Telok Blangah area. The area is now very high-rise and part of the entertainment area of Singapore and the family home has since been demolished. The British were still running Singapore when Michael was growing up. They had established a naval base there as well as commercial shipping. From time to time, Michael’s father would entertain the British senior management at home. One manager, Kevin Rodney, became a very close family friend.
05:12 Michael studied English from Primary School. He was considered one of the top students in Secondary School and took ‘O’ and ‘A’ level examinations and then gained a scholarship. Both Michael’s brothers studied engineering. Michael did vacation work at Keppel Shipyard when he was studying at the University of Western Australia. There was no exam involved in the scholarship but there was an interview process and luckily he had good grades as the scholarship was very competitive. He was very happy to be able to travel overseas and expand his horizons.
10:18 Michael knew nothing about Australia apart from the fact that there were kangaroos. Singapore was bustling and crowded. Perth seemed very quiet by comparison. When Michael arrived in Perth in 1967, people did not seem to know much about Asia. Michael did not encounter any problems with people and tried hard to fit in. He had travelled to Perth on a Comet jet plane. The flight took about 8 hours and there was a stop in Jakarta. Five Colombo plan students arrived from Singapore. The university and the Combo Plan organisation looked after them very well. There were only two Chinese restaurants in Perth. It took some time for him to become accustomed to Western food.
15:26 Michael was accommodated in a house in Loftus Street, Nedlands. The landlady was Singaporean. Michael shared a room with another student. It was nice to have companionship in order to find your feet in the early months. There were two other Asian students in the house and an Australian known as “Wallaby”. He was a real Aussie. Michael was impressed with the university grounds – the size, the setting, the gardens and the beautiful buildings. Transport was a bugbear as buses were infrequent. First year of Engineering was a general course. Second year was harder.
20:37 Michael had already decided to specialise in mechanical engineering. By the second year, he felt much more comfortable. He recalled the Dean, Professor Allen-Williams, Dr John Wager and Dr Lutz who used the same lecture notes year and year. There were other Asian students in Michael’s class from Sarawak, Vietnam and Cambodia. Caroline Clarke was the only female student.




FOK, Wing Chung (Michael) , “Wing Chung (Michael) Fok interviews, 2 and 8 July 2020,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed June 13, 2024,