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Keynote Address by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, at the 2018 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony on 18 July 2018.
Opening Address by Mr Eddie Teo, Chairman, Public Service Commission, at the 2018 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony on 18 July 2018.
Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Mr Eddie Teo Retires; Mr Lee Tzu Yang to be Appointed as New Chairman.
Dr Ng Li Sa, Director, Public Service Commission Secretariat reply to TODAYonline Forum Letter on "PSC scholarships is not a mission to address inequality in society".
ADDRESS BY MR CHAN CHUN SING, MINISTER FOR TRADE & INDUSTRY AND
MINISTER-IN-CHARGE OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE AT THE 2018 PSC SCHOLARSHIPS
AWARD CEREMONY ON 18 JULY 2018, AT 1700HRS, GRAND COPTHORNE
WATERFRONT HOTEL, SINGAPORE
Chairman and Members of Public Service Commission.
Recipients, Families, Teachers, Principals, Friends and Colleagues.
Let me first start today’s sharing by thanking Mr Eddie Teo, who has served Singapore for almost five decades.
When I was a young officer, Mr Eddie Teo was one of my superiors, a mentor, and he had kindly shared his time and experience with us, the younger generation. So, today, as I stand before you, a part of me has been guided and moulded by people like Mr Eddie Teo, who has contributed their time, talent and treasures to the course of Singapore. So thank you very much.
Mr Eddie Teo was one of the first few batches of scholarship holders from Singapore. Today, I must say that I do feel a bit old because amongst the recipients today, are children from my own batch, who are here with us. But before I carry on, I must also welcome Mr Lee Tzu Yang for taking over as the Chairman of PSC and I hope that all of you would give him the support that you have given to Mr Eddie Teo as well. So, thank you Tzu Yang for joining us.
For all the recipients present here today, let me start off by sharing with everyone that we are here, not only because of our hard work or our intelligence. We are here because of the support given to us by our families and the opportunities given to us by society.
I always remember that when I took the scholarship many years back and went to Cambridge University, there were many more people in my cohort from other countries who are equally, if not more talented than myself and our fellow Singaporeans. But today, they do not necessarily excel or have the same opportunities as us. That is a constant reminder to all of us here, that we are here not just because of our intelligence and hard work but because of the support and love from our families and also the opportunities given to us by our society, which is why, later, when we take the pledge, we take the pledge in front of our family members and our community partners.
Many of you, today, will start on a new journey. This will be a milestone in your life, and you will be wondering how far you will go and what you will achieve. Perhaps at this point in time, it’s useful for us to think about our own definition of success in time to come. In 50 years’ time, will you be in a position like Mr Eddie Teo, or will you be serving in other capacities in different stations in life? Regardless of what our station in life might be, it is important to remind ourselves, what should that definition of success be. And here, perhaps, I would just offer two perspectives on what our definition of success can be for all the scholarship recipients today.
One, we are here not because of ourselves. We are here because of the kind of values and system that our society has. This is a country where we pride ourselves that we will build a nation regardless of race, language, and religion. And I dare say that it is also a country where we pride ourselves that one will be able to succeed regardless of one’s ancestry and one’s personal connection. Our promise to each and every generation of Singaporeans is this, that so long as you are capable and committed, our country will provide you with the best opportunities possible for you to fulfil your potential. That in fulfilling your potential, your definition of success is not just of how well you do for yourself or for your family.
It is also about how able we are to uphold the values and system that have brought us thus far. If all of us believe that we are here because of the system that has given us opportunities, then let us challenge ourselves that we will build an even better system for the next generation. For generations after generations, every Singaporean can be proud that they can excel regardless of race, language, religion, ancestry or connection. This is the kind of system that will inspire generations of Singaporeans to continue to serve, not just for themselves but for the greater good.
It is never easy for Singapore to survive and to thrive. We have done that for the last 53 years, despite the odds, despite the challenges. We were able to do that because we have been able to recruit and develop generations of leaders, whose hearts are at the correct place, who put the country before themselves. They were committed to turn every constraint, every challenge into an opportunity for Singapore. If we do not have enough water, we will make sure that we build sufficient capacity for us never to be held ransom. If we are a small country without resources and sufficient market, we are determined to build the links to connect ourselves to the rest of the world, so that we will transcend the limitations of our size and geography. And there will be many, many more challenges that Singapore will confront in the years to come.
But what will set us apart is not just how intelligent we are but how able we are to continue to recruit and attract the best to come forth and serve the nation over and beyond defining success for ourselves.
And in that, yet another perspective beyond building the system is upholding the values. Upholding the values whereby meritocracy is at the core of what we believe in.
But I don’t mean meritocracy in a narrow definition or meritocracy in a uni-dimensional way. We practise continuous meritocracy. We practise meritocracy with multiple peaks. And this becomes even more important as Singapore goes forth into the next 50 years, where our challenges are much more complex. This is the reason why PSC spares no effort to continuously build diverse leadership teams for Singapore going forward.
Diversity comes with resilience. If we are uni-dimensional in our search for leadership potential, then we will become fragile in our leadership capacity. This is the reason why we send students to many different countries to undertake many different subjects of studies, and we try to look for people with diverse experience, diverse backgrounds because this diversity provides the resilience that our country needs.
We need to be like the Swiss-knife, so that regardless of the challenges going forward, we will have the diverse skillsets within Team Singapore for us to overcome the challenges together.
So to me, I hope, when we look back one day at this very moment, that we remind ourselves our definition of success for all scholarship holders cannot just be how well we do for ourselves, but how well we are able to build a better system for future generations of Singapore, and how well we uphold the values that define us as Singaporeans.
As you move forth to do your various studies in various countries, I hope you will also remember these 4 ’A’s.
First, be alert; alert to the challenges facing our country, facing the world. Never, never, confine ourselves just to the subject of study. When I was in Cambridge, my subject of study was Economics, but I took the time to understand Game Theory, Sociology, Psychology, Science and so forth. Because it is the best time for us to keep alert to what is happening around us.
Next, always analyse why something is happening or not happening. Do not accept what people say on face value. Ask ourselves, “why is this happening” or “why is something not happening”.
Third, try to apply it to Singapore; and if not, find the alternative. It is easy for us to go to a new country, look at the model, either to say “yes, this is very good, I should copy wholesale”; or “No, this is not good enough and I will reject it.” Both are not particularly useful. Even if something works in another country, we need to ask ourselves “will it work in our context”. Even if something does not work in another country, we have to ask ourselves “why is it not working in that country”.
Last but not least, I hope all scholarship holders will remember to anticipate. It is very difficult for us to foretell the future moving forward and the ability to anticipate and adapt will determine whether Singapore will continue to do well and excel.
Singapore is at the forefront in many areas of our governance in the way we develop our systems. We can never be complacent, because if we do not anticipate the challenges that we will face, we will not adapt and we will not be agile, then history will pass us by. Our job is to continue to defy the odds of history as Team Singapore - people with diversity of talents and the commitment to serve, constantly asking ourselves how we can not only survive, but thrive for another 50 years or more in the history of this land that we stand on now.
We have always been part of a larger entity because it has always been difficult for small states to survive without access to a larger hinterland for resources and markets. But we have transcended our geography and size because we remain connected to the rest of the world. We make it a point that we will never, never be constrained by geography or size. Instead, we turn geography and size into opportunities by connecting to the rest of the world as our hinterland, we have greater access, greater diversity of avenues to get resources and markets. That is why and how Singapore has thrived, and there will be many, many more of such challenges that we will need to face.
All I ask for is that you never be complacent that we have arrived. We must constantly be alert to the challenges facing our country; analyse what is happening around us; apply our abilities and anticipate the future.
If we can do all this collectively as a team, I am confident that the next generation of Singaporeans will have even better opportunities than this generation. And perhaps, that is the reason why we are all gathered here today.
Today, I stand on the shoulders of those who have come before me. They have made the path for my generation. It is the duty of my generation to similarly lend our shoulders to your generation to stand taller and see further. I hope that in time to come, all of you will also lend your shoulders to the next generation to stand taller and see further.
If we can do this for generations after generations, I am sure that the Singapore Public Service will distinguish itself for our country to continue to defy the odds of history, to not only survive, but to transcend. This is our collective responsibility as Public Servants for our nation.
I wish you all the very best for your future endeavours and I look forward to your contributions to take our country to the next higher peak.
Thank you very much.
OPENING ADDRESS BY MR EDDIE TEO, CHAIRMAN, PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION AT THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION SCHOLARSHIPS AWARD CEREMONY ON 18 JULY 2018 AT GRAND COPTHORNE WATERFRONT HOTEL GRAND BALLROOM
Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, and
Minister-in-charge of the Public Service,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Welcome to the 2018 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony.
2. My warmest congratulations to the 93 PSC scholarship recipients this year. You were selected
because you demonstrated the commitment to serve Singapore and Singaporeans with integrity, empathy and excellence, and we think you have the potential to become public sector leaders.
3. There are high expectations placed on all scholarship holders. The Public Service, your teachers, your family, and the people of Singapore all expect you to do your best and prepare yourselves to serve the nation with distinction. While they join you in celebrating your achievements thus far, it is imperative that you have the humility to appreciate that your success is due not only to your own effort, but also to the support and guidance your family, teachers, principals and peers have given you on your journey so far.
A TALENT PIPELINE THAT SERVES SINGAPORE’S FUTURE NEEDS
4. All the scholarship recipients here today form a part of the future corps of public officers, who will help shape Singapore’s future and lead us forward. For Singapore to continue to prosper and progress, we need a good spread of talent, with the necessary knowledge, skills and capabilities to tackle our increasingly complex national challenges and keep Singapore exceptional. The PSC’s responsibility is to recruit the right talent with leadership potential to help Singapore achieve its goals. We do so by maintaining high standards in our selection process which is based on merit.
5. To remain relevant and effective, the Public Service must challenge old assumptions, and be open to experimenting with novel ways of tackling difficult problems and delivering services to the people. We need a Service that is able to connect with Singaporeans from all walks of life, and a Service with different points of view to tackle complex issues. This underscores the importance of having diversity in our leadership talent pool.
6. We have always kept this in mind each year, as we searched for candidates to award the PSC scholarships. PSC scholarships are awarded on merit regardless of candidates’ backgrounds. Through a multi-dimensional selection process that focuses on whole person qualities, we evaluate and identify individuals who exemplify the potential to take on leadership roles in future in the Public Service. Besides attaining diversity by recruiting students with different backgrounds, we also expose our scholarship holders to different cultures and experiences.
7. I am pleased to announce that this year, we have 4 scholarship recipients who have chosen non-traditional countries for their studies. I am sure they will bring home different experiences, networks and perspectives which will enrich the Service. Mr Foo Suon Chuang and Mr Jonathan Koh Jian Yi will be heading to Peking (北大) University in China, while Mr Teo Kai Jin and Ms Nicole Wong Yifei will be studying in Germany. We hope that as they take these less trodden paths, they will enrich and add to the diversity of views when they return to serve.
8. Diversity of background remains important. This year, the PSC awarded scholarships to 7 students from non-IP institutions, including ACJC, PJC, SAJC, and the Singapore Polytechnic. In addition, some of our scholarship recipients come from challenging family and personal circumstances. That they have done so well shows their resilience and determination - qualities that are as vital as high intellect and academic excellence.
DIGITAL AND ENGINEERING CAPABILITIES
9. PSC is helping Singapore become a Smart Nation, through recruiting talent to build digital and engineering capabilities in the Public Service.
10. This year, the PSC is pleased to have given out a total of 22 awards under the PSC Scholarship (Engineering) scheme. This is a threefold increase from last year, when we first introduced the scholarship. I believe this group of future Engineers will have challenging and interesting work in store for them, when they return to serve in the Public Service. They are passionate about engineering and technology, and they are keen to practise as Engineers. They are ready to roll up their sleeves, be part of the team re-thinking how to improve the lives of citizens and tackle our urban challenges with the help of technology.
CONCLUSION : ROLES AS SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
11. This is my last month as Chairman of the Public Service Commission. It has been a memorable and
rewarding experience serving in this capacity over the past 10 years. One of the joys of this job is that I get to glimpse into the future of Singapore by listening to the views of our best and brightest students. I learn how they feel about themselves and their fellow citizens, how they regard Singapore today and in the future, what they think needs fixing and has to change, and what role they hope to play in making these changes. I come away hopeful and optimistic because many of our best future public sector leaders show the courage to express their own views, even if they contradict current thinking and existing policies. For we can only improve if our public servants do not blindly follow orders but also question and challenge assumptions, in order to seek the best possible solutions to our problems. When public servants see that a decision or policy is wrong, they must be prepared to speak truth to power. In discharging their duties, they must act impartially, without fear or favour.
12. To the 93 recipients, I would like to remind them that this is not just the start of your scholarship award. It is also the beginning of your career in the Singapore Public Service.
13. Start by thinking about what skills, experience and traits you need to acquire to be an effective officer in the Public Service. Do not limit your learning to just where you study. Go beyond the classrooms, lecture halls and campuses. Be inquisitive and explore. Travel widely and as you explore, stay in touch with developments back home and remain tuned into the needs of Singapore and Singaporeans. I am confident that you will live up to the trust placed in you, and that you will do your part to contribute when you return.
14. Finally, I want to say a special “thank you” to my fellow PSC members, who have given so much of their time to help me make better and more rounded decisions in selecting, promoting and disciplining public servants. A word of thanks also to the PSC Secretariat - people who work tirelessly behind the scenes, often forgotten and under-appreciated.
15. Thank you.
Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Mr Eddie Teo Retires;
Mr Lee Tzu Yang to be Appointed as New Chairman.
1. Mr Eddie Teo (张赞成), Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC) since 2008, will retire on 31 July 2018 after close to 50 years of public service. Mr Lee Tzu Yang (李子揚), currently Deputy Chairman of the PSC, will be appointed as the Chairman with effect from 1 August 2018.
Mr Eddie Teo
2. Mr Eddie Teo, 71, assumed the role of Chairman of the PSC on 1 August 2008. He is concurrently the Chairman of the Presidential Council for Religious Harmony, the Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship Fund, the Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellowship, the Dr Goh Keng Swee Scholarship Fund, the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies Board of Governors, as well as a member of the Legal Service Commission. In 2011 and 2017, Mr Teo chaired the Presidential Elections Committee, and in 2016, he served as a member of the Constitutional Commission on the Elected Presidency.
3. Prior to his PSC appointment, Mr Teo held key appointments in the Public Service, including Director, Security and Intelligence Division; Director, Internal Security Department; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence; Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office; and High Commissioner in Canberra, Australia.
4. As Chairman of the PSC, Mr Teo was instrumental in shaping the Singapore Public Service as a values‐based organisation anchored on integrity, service and excellence. He led the Commission in discharging its responsibilities for discipline, recruitment, deployment and promotion of public officers. Mr Teo championed greater diversity in the public service leadership. During his Chairmanship, the Commission awarded scholarships to more recipients from different backgrounds and schools, and the President’s Scholarship was extended to a wider pool of applicants.
5. For his sterling contributions to the Public Service, Mr Teo was awarded The Order of Nila Utama First Class in 2017. He was also a recipient of the Public Service Administration Medal (Gold) in 1983, the Meritorious Service Medal in 1997, and the Distinguished Service Order in 2006.
Mr Lee Tzu Yang
6. Mr Lee Tzu Yang, 63, was appointed as member and Deputy Chairman of the PSC on 2 May 2018.
7. Mr Lee graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1976. He joined Shell in 1979 and retired as Chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore in 2014 after 35 years of service in operational, commercial and strategy functions in a range of markets. He was recognised by the Institution of Chemical Engineers as an Honorary Fellow in 2016.
8. Mr Lee is a member of the Council of Presidential Advisers and the Legal Service Commission of Singapore. He is a Justice of the Peace and Vice Chairman of the Board of Visiting Justices and Board of Inspection. He also chairs the board of The Esplanade Company Limited, the Singapore University of Technology and Design, and the Founders’ Memorial Committee.
9. For his contributions to public service, Mr Lee was awarded the Public Service Star in 2005, and the Meritorious Service Medal in 2014.
. . . . .
PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE 13 JULY 2018
PSC scholarships are awarded based on merit
We refer to the letter by Mr Francis Cheng Choon Fei (“PSC scholarships is not a mission to address inequality in society”; Jul 16), who suggested that the Public Service Commission (PSC) should award scholarships based on merit and not needs.
We agree that the role of the PSC is to select the best candidates with the potential to be public service leaders, and have a heart to serve the nation.
Given the increasing diversity of our population and the complex challenges we face, we need a Public Service that reflects diversity. We need a Service that has different perspectives and deep expertise in various areas to bring Singapore forward. Thus, the PSC goes out of its way to seek out and select scholarship candidates from different backgrounds.
Our scholarship recipients study a variety of courses in different universities. We also encourage them to enrich and diversify their experiences by venturing to different countries and acquiring new skills that would serve Singapore well.
In striving for diversity, we ensure that our selection process is multi-dimensional and we are able to pick out merit in its different forms. Apart from cognitive ability, we also look at qualities such as resilience and leadership. Most of all, we look for candidates with integrity and commitment. Each candidate is assessed holistically. While the PSC does not discriminate against students from affluent families, we also go the extra mile to search for promising candidates from less privileged backgrounds.
There is no quota for PSC scholarships, and the PSC will continue to maintain high standards by awarding scholarships to those who would make excellent public officers.
Dr Ng Li Sa
Director, Public Service Commission Secretariat