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Opening Address by Mr Lee Tzu Yang at 2023 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony
Chairman and Members of the Public Service Commission (PSC)
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good evening. Tonight, we celebrate the achievements of three outstanding young individuals who have been awarded the nation’s most prestigious scholarship.
They have, beyond achieving excellence in academic pursuits and co-curricular activities, exemplified the values and ethos of Public Service and demonstrated remarkable leadership qualities. Collectively, they stand ready to serve with integrity, a drive for excellence, and most importantly, a dedication to serve Singapore and Singaporeans.
This year, I am pleased to award the President’s Scholarship to:
a) Inspector Chua Jia Zhi, Edison
b) Miss Foo Yong Yee Renee; and
c) Miss Mei Feifei.
Edison will be pursuing his studies in Economics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Edison is a purposeful and driven leader who enjoys galvanising collective action. He has served as a leader in various capacities in school, notably leading a virtual overseas community involvement programme that taught English to students across different provinces in China. Edison also served as a peer tutor to beneficiaries from Northbrooks Secondary School. As a recipient of the SPF Scholarship, Edison aspires to contribute to the stability and security of the country when he joins the Police Force after graduation.
Renee will be going to Georgetown University to read Business and Global Affairs. She has a heart to serve, demonstrated by her active involvement with Ulu Pandan Stars and Oasis Tuition Befrienders. Renee reached out to underprivileged children through weekly reading sessions and tutoring. She also served as a Peer Aider in secondary school, spreading positivity and care for schoolmates who needed a listening ear. Renee has also led teams in various capacities. As vice-captain of the Taekwondo club in JC, she led the club to finish as overall champion in the National School Games in 2022. She also led Project Sonder as part of the Youth Expedition Project in 2021 to conduct online workshops on topics such as food and nutrition, and mental wellness for children in Cebu, the Philippines.
Feifei will be reading Economics at the University of Chicago. Feifei is an accomplished and dependable leader. As the Chairperson of Raffles Press in JC, she led the team to forge a new direction to build itself up as a multimedia press, creating and diversifying output of different content forms such as podcasts and videos. Her ability to identify problems, introduce effective solutions, and communicate effectively helped her lead the team through various challenges. These included coping with a lack of ideas, resources, or time to produce content, as well as keeping up the engagement and involvement of team members when student activities were curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who know Feifei see her as someone who stands up for what is right, and one who wants to make a difference by serving. She has tutored a child from a single-parent family over the past few years, and also organised book drives, food drives and digital literacy workshops for the underprivileged.
My heartfelt congratulations to the three of you.
It must also be a moment of great pride for your families, principals, teachers, and friends who have guided, developed, and journeyed with you. Congratulations to all of you as well.
Today, as I reflect on the recipients of the President’s Scholarship whom I have interacted with over the years, I am reminded of the importance for us to work together to make Singapore more inclusive, caring, and compassionate. As a nation, we must continue to forge a shared consensus of our collective aspirations as a people and the realities that we are confronted with. If we fail to do so, we will start to fragment as a nation and become weaker as we would no longer be able to rely on the strength of the collective to take on tomorrow’s challenges.
Now, more so than ever, we need to be united to face the external challenges ahead. Singapore remains confronted with major, exacting challenges. Geopolitical uncertainties, economic volatility, and climate change will pose existential questions to Singapore. We must continue punching above our weight to stay relevant. We must reinforce the values of a multi-racial, multi-religious society in an increasingly polarised world. We must support one another, especially those who are adversely affected, to ensure that no one is left behind.
Every Singaporean has a part to play in shaping Singapore’s future. The ones who answer the call to serve must lead by example. Edison, Renee, and Feifei, as President’s Scholarship recipients, you must lead your generation of public officers and galvanise the strengths of different individuals, communities, and organisations to tackle the challenges of tomorrow
For you to be able to bring people on board, they must trust you and have confidence that you have the necessary tools, expertise, and resources. This must be underpinned by the instinct to do what is right for Singapore. As you embark on the next chapter of your journey in education, I encourage you to build relevant and valuable competencies, knowledge, and connections that Singapore and the Public Service needs. Always maintain a high level of conduct, even when no one is watching.
You must be able to connect with different segments of our society. Empathise with their desires, aspirations, and needs. This is why I am glad that the PSC continues to press on in its efforts to select scholarship recipients from diverse backgrounds, and to encourage and support scholarship holders in building up a rich portfolio of experiences. The Public Service is in good stead to represent the people that it serves even more comprehensively, as long as its future leaders embody a wide variety of lived experiences. Edison, Renee, and Feifei – it is your responsibility to ensure that the people who will build Singapore in the years to come will demonstrate the shared values of our nation and identify with the hopes, aspirations, and dreams of all our fellow citizens. Stand guided by this in everything that you do in the Public Service, even when it gets tough.
This is my sixth and final President’s Scholarships Award Ceremony. In the last 6 years, I have conferred the award to 19 recipients, and have met many more past recipients over the course of my Presidency. I am heartened to see many young, accomplished individuals, some having come through challenging life circumstances, putting themselves forward to serve in the Public Service. It was inspiring to hear from them their deep passion and vision for a better Singapore.
I would also like to express my appreciation to the PSC for their contributions over the years, in selecting and guiding the next generation of public officers and leaders to secure Singapore’s future. The work that goes into further distinguishing amongst a small pool of scholarship recipients, who are already a good fit for the Public Service, to decide on the few who would be most deserving of the President’s Scholarship is extremely significant. They represent the highest standards, and they will influence and inspire their fellow public sector scholarship awardees to aspire towards these standards.
Lastly, I would like to thank all President’s Scholarship recipients – past, current, and future, for taking on the hard but purposeful work of making Singapore better.
A more diverse cohort
Challenges and opportunities ahead
What is required of those in Public Service
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.