2019 President's Scholarships Award Ceremony: Speech by President Halimah Yacob

Mr Teo Chee Hean, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security


Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening.

Every year, the President’s Scholarship is conferred on outstanding young men and women, who have committed to serving Singapore and Singaporeans through the Public Service.

This evening, we recognise and celebrate the achievements and commitment of four outstanding young Singaporeans. They are:

  1. Midshipman Allison Tan Sue Min;
  2. Mr John Chua Je En;
  3. Mr Muhammad Dhafer Bin Muhammad Faishal Khan Surattee; and
  4. Mr Siow Mein Yeak, Yue.

Allison will be studying International Relations, and will serve in the Singapore Armed Forces. John and Dhafer will pursue their studies in Liberal Arts at Stanford and Harvard Universities respectively, and Mein Yeak will read Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London. The three gentlemen will serve in the Public Service upon graduation.

My heartfelt congratulations to you.

Today is a memorable occasion for you and your families. It is even more meaningful to receive the award in Singapore’s bicentennial year. The bicentennial year reminds us to look back with gratitude to our pioneers who had worked hard and tirelessly to build our thriving modern city, and to look forward with humility and optimism. We all know that no matter how brilliant we are, without the right support and opportunities provided for us to develop to our fullest potential, our growth will be limited. Our forefathers helped to build a strong foundation and we have benefitted from it. Now it is your turn, to play a role in helping Singapore forge ahead for the next 200 years.

During the launch of the Singapore Bicentennial Experience a couple of months ago, I spoke about key traits of the Singaporean DNA that has brought us to where we are today – openness and connectedness to the world, multi-culturalism, and determination to survive as a nation no matter what the circumstances are. The same traits will bring us ahead.

I encourage Allison, John, Dhafer and Mein Yeak to think about how you can prepare yourselves to contribute to the future Public Service. To enable the Public Service to be more open and receptive to the evolving needs of citizens; to help Singapore continue to forge stronger relationships with our allies amid uncertain times; to continue to be aware of the fault lines and actively promote inter-racial and cultural understanding; and to stay resolute in the face of our national challenges. Above all, how to ensure that we remain a progressive, contemporary and globalised city state but, at the same time, one that is inclusive, caring and compassionate where no one is left behind.

The President’s Scholarship is an honour and also a responsibility. We believe that you have exemplified, and will continue to espouse, the values and ethos of the Public Service. Within your cohort, we expect you to be leaders and role models. Public service goes beyond doing a job well. It is a complete dedication to the people and nation.

I hope you will bring Singapore forward by shaping a cohort of future public officers through your actions, inspiring them to lead by example, to be connected to the ground and the community; and to put the needs and interests of the nation and our citizens at the core.

This is a weighty responsibility to shoulder. I am confident that you are ready for this. Through public service you can improve lives and the world around you. Its greater reward, however, is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring to your own life.

Today, you are joined by your families, principals, teachers and friends who have supported your growth, shaped your character and values, and helped you develop your potential. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate them on their role in your development.

Allison, John, Dhafer and Mein Yeak – I wish you success in your journey ahead and look forward to you serving the nation with passion when you begin your careers in the Public Service.

Thank you.