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Chairman and Members of the Public Service Commission
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good evening. This event marks the first time in 3 years that we are able to host the President’s Scholarship Award Ceremony in person.
The President’s Scholarship recognises outstanding young leaders for their dedication towards public service. Recipients have exemplified outstanding leadership qualities, strength of character, excellence in both academic and non-academic pursuits, and demonstrated unwavering commitment towards serving Singapore and Singaporeans. This year, I am pleased to award the President’s Scholarship to four remarkable young men and women. They are: Mr Eugene Chua Weiheng, Officer Cadet Govindan Solai Valli, Mr Lau Ka Keong, Andrew; and Miss Ng Si Jie Elizabeth.
Eugene and Andrew will be pursuing their studies in the United States, with Eugene reading History at Harvard University and Andrew reading Economics and English at Yale University. Elizabeth will be reading International Social and Public Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom. Solai will be going to Leiden University in The Netherlands to study International Relations and Organisations, the first President’s scholar to do so.
Eugene is an accomplished orator and the Vice-Chairman of the Raffles Institution Gavel Club. As a volunteer with Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre, Eugene served as a tutor and mentor to primary school children from less privileged backgrounds. The time he spent with them will serve him well as a Teaching scholarship recipient. Eugene hopes to nurture our next generation and build a society where Singaporean youth from all walks of life can find his or her own pathway to success.
Solai followed the footsteps of her mother, volunteering for the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA). She served in various capacities, from a vaccine ambassador, to a 'door-knocker' where she visited underprivileged members of the Indian community to understand their needs and provide aid. She also mentored at-risk youths under the Football Club Guidance & Mentorship programme. Solai is an active sportswoman and was Captain of the ACJC softball team. She will be serving with the SAF upon graduation.
Andrew was the President of the History and Strategic Affairs Society in Raffles Institution, and represented the school in various debate competitions. He has been volunteering as a tutor with the Ulu Pandan Community Foundation, and with the Homeless Hearts of Singapore as a befriender. Through these experiences, Andrew learnt the importance of empathy in understanding the challenges faced by the less privileged in our society. Through a public service career, Andrew hopes to work on policies to enable Singaporeans from all socio-economic backgrounds to find success and lead a fulfilling life.
Elizabeth is a person of many interests. She was the President of the Choir at Nanyang Girls’ High School, and the Bicultural Studies Programme Ambassador at Hwa Chong Institution. As a student leader, she actively galvanised her peers to work on recycling initiatives with grassroot organisations. Elizabeth is a believer of paying kindness forward. Having benefited from the support of her teachers and friends, Elizabeth volunteered in various capacities at Fei Yue Community Services, Lion Befrienders, Assisi Hospice and Singapore Children’s Society. She reached out to Singaporeans from different walks of life, including seniors, patients, and children. She also has a keen interest in foreign affairs and will be joining the public service as a PSC (Foreign Service) scholarship recipient.
My heartfelt congratulations to all of you.
Today is a memorable occasion for you and your family. As a recipient of this prestigious scholarship, you are now tasked with an important responsibility as future Public Service leaders, to lead Singapore forward beyond COVID-19 and to build a better Singapore for all Singaporeans. I am also heartened to see that all of you have a desire in wanting to help fellow Singaporeans and encourage you to keep engaging Singaporeans from all walks of life.
Externally, the geopolitical world order is changing. The global economy and markets are facing fundamental shifts with disruptions in supply chains and rising inflation rates. Climate change remains a long-term challenge, as extreme and unusual weather patterns become the norm across many countries in recent times.
Domestically, our demographics are changing. Our society is maturing, and the needs of Singaporeans have become more diverse. Younger generations of Singaporeans have evolving and different social expectations and aspirations. Many want a greater say in shaping Singapore’s future. Governance has become more complex and will increasingly be so, with many new demands on the Public Service. This also means the Public Service needs to be more diverse in terms of the experiences, backgrounds, and strengths of its officers to respond to these new and varied demands.
To this end, I am pleased to hear that the Public Service Commission has evolved its selection tools for PSC scholarships to capture a broader range of talent in the Public Service. PSC has reached out to outstanding students from more schools and polytechnics to encourage them to apply for the PSC scholarships. PSC also encourages its scholarship holders to pursue diverse subjects, courses, work attachments and internships in different countries, especially within the region.
Over the long term, this will help to develop good public service leaders who are exposed to different networks, cultures, and ways of thinking. This will improve the strength and resilience of the public sector, in tandem with our efforts to be a more inclusive society. Amidst the challenges ahead, there are opportunities to create better outcomes for our people and take Singapore to the next level.
As recipients of the President’s Scholarship, you must gear yourselves up to serve and lead in this rapidly changing landscape. You have the responsibility to lead and galvanise different sectors of society to respond to the challenges that lie ahead of us. You will need to develop the skills to lead while making sure that differing views and concerns of our people are considered and heard. Eugene, Solai, Andrew, and Elizabeth, it is your duty to embody the values of the Public Service, uphold the trust that has been placed in you, and do your part to support Singapore’s continued success.
Finally, I would also like to congratulate your families, principals, teachers, and friends, for their roles in guiding and developing you. I am confident that you will do us proud. I wish you every success in your journey ahead and look forward to you serving the nation with commitment and passion.
Four outstanding candidates were awarded the President’s Scholarship on 11 August 2022 at the Istana. They were Mr Eugene Chua Weiheng, Officer Cadet G Solai Valli, Mr Lau Ka Keong, Andrew and Ms Ng Si Jie, Elizabeth.
Good afternoonMr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education, and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, Fellow Commission Members,Distinguished Guests,Families, Friends and Scholarship Recipients, Ladies and Gentlemen 1. Today marks the first time since 2019 that we are able to gather in person, in a large group, for the Public Service Commission Scholarships Award Ceremony. This resumption of activity is hard won by the grit and determination of people in Singapore, working together with the Public Service. Our colleague’s in the Public Service’s relentless hard work and dedication to addressing the many challenges thrown up by the pandemic has contributed to making today and many other gatherings possible. 2. Today I welcome our scholarship recipients to join our Public Service mission, to build a better Singapore for future generations of Singaporeans. I would like to convey my warmest congratulations to you for being awarded the PSC scholarship this year. It is recognition of your potential to contribute to Singapore, and your commitment to do so.3. As it takes a village to raise a child, so I would also like to sincerely thank the parents, teachers and loved ones who have been part of this “village” that gave their support to you. I would also like to express my appreciation to my fellow PSC colleagues and the Secretariat, who tirelessly worked on the scholarship selection process in a particularly challenging time, and for persevering these past 2 years.4. The PSC is focused on selecting promising candidates with the values, commitment, and potential to serve Singapore and Singaporeans. Of the over 2,000 candidates who applied for PSC Scholarships in this cycle, the 66 of you who have been awarded the scholarship exemplify the qualities of integrity, dedication to service and excellence that are the bedrock of a first-class public service. 5. The PSC looks at attributes beyond intellect and grades. We endeavour to reach out widely for suitable candidates. I am happy that we are making progress and are continuing to make steady progress on this front. This year, our scholarship recipients come from 17 different pre-tertiary institutions, including Integrated Programme (IP) schools, non-IP schools, International Baccalaureate (IB) schools, and polytechnics. 6 recipients of our scholarships this year studied at polytechnics. We also continue to award PSC Mid-term scholarships to outstanding medicine students. In addition, we are also extending our reach to mature candidates in other disciplines. This year we have awarded 3 other PSC Mid-Term and 2 PSC Master’s scholarships, which is an increase from an average of 0.2 and 1 respectively over the previous 5 years. We will continue to look for more mature candidates. The courses these scholarship recipients will pursue are in a wide range of disciplines, from engineering, economics, accountancy, to humanities and political science. PSC will continue to work closely with all our partners, pre-tertiary institutions and local AUs to identify outstanding candidates for our full-term, mid-term and Master’s scholarships. 6. As future public sector leaders, we have to understand the concerns of the different groups in our society. Volunteering and community involvement help you develop to become a better public officer, more in touch with people in the community. I am pleased that many of our candidates have embarked on this. I shall mention just three. a. Taufiq, from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, has a keen interest to teach and to meet more musicians. He has dedicated his time to two community service initiatives: tutoring primary school children from less privileged backgrounds on a weekly basis and organising the Jurong Open Mic event monthly. b. Sue-Ann, from National Junior College, has been involved in community work initiatives, such as reading to a primary school student, creating social media content for the National Kidney Foundation, and volunteering with Homeless Hearts of Singapore. c. Clement, taking a Mid-Term Scholarship and continuing his studies at NTU, has been volunteering weekly with the NTU Welfare Services Club in youth mentoring programmes. He is also part of a choir group which performs and interacts with elders at elder care centres. 7. To help in the development of our scholarship holders, the scholarship will offer opportunities and support to engage in internships, work attachments, academic exchange programmes, policy forums and many other growth activities. You should not neglect your studies, but you should also take up these opportunities. 8. The responsibility to create a meaningful growth journey is ultimately your own. I would suggest three steps to maximise the opportunities under the scholarship. 9. Firstly, explore the opportunities and possibilities in your universities. You are going to some of the best universities in the world. They have brought together the best minds to investigate a myriad of interesting fields and concerns. The course you study need not constrain you. There is a richness of possibilities in the university. Your course may offer you certain options but you may also be able to create more options for yourself.10. Secondly, go beyond the borders of your universities. Layer on experiences in the wider community, in the private, people and even international sectors. Such experiences will grow your skills, develop your confidence, build your networks, and make you more effective public officers in future. Take a keen interest in the affairs of your host countries, if you are overseas. Better understand, connect with, and learn to influence other people who may not be like you. See how others identify challenges and deal with them and consider if there are lessons to be learnt.11. Thirdly, I’d like to address some of the habits we develop in university. Cultivate intellectual curiosity and the habit to track emerging trends and issues. Consider what they might mean for the world and grapple with their implications for Singapore. Stay attuned to developments globally and in Singapore, and especially explore more deeply those areas you see will have significant impact. Because, these habits, once developed, will serve you well in your future career, wherever you may be.12. So I would like to end here, to say that scholarships are not rewards, but the responsibility to serve and an opportunity to make an impact on others for the better. Use this time well to place yourselves in the best position to contribute, but also have fun and find out more about both the world and yourselves.13. I look forward to hearing from many of you over the next few years on your exciting journeys and my best wishes to you.