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Keynote Address by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, at the 2019 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony on 17 July 2019.
Opening Address by Mr Lee Tzu Yang, Chairman, Public Service Commission, at the 2019 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony on 17 July 2019.
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.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MINISTER FOR TRADE & INDUSTRY AND MINISTER-IN- CHARGE OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE,
MR CHAN CHUN SING AT THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION SCHOLARSHIPS AWARD CEREMONY
ON 17 JULY 2019 AT PARKROYAL HOTEL, GRAND BALLROOM
1. A very good afternoon Chairman and members of the Public Service Commission, parents, teachers, principals, and recipients. First, let me thank the Public Service Commission for your hard work. They have been working hard, not just this year. A few of them actually interviewed me when I took the scholarship, and they are all volunteers. It is not easy to sift through 2,000 to 3,000 applicants to find the 90 plus of you.
2. On such occasions, the first thing that I always tell all the recipients is this - you are here, not because of your intelligence and your hard work alone. I am also not here because of my intelligence and hard work alone. We are all here, because this country has given us the opportunities to be here. When I was in Cambridge University, I was always reminded that there were many people who were more hardworking, more intelligent than me. But in life, they did not necessarily have the same opportunities that I have today. And their children, do not necessarily have the opportunities that our children have today. So today, we are here because of the opportunities given to us by society, the love and support given to us by our parents, and teachers and principals. Now as I was preparing this speech, I wondered what to say to you. Because from my experience, none of you will remember anything I say 12 months from now. I could have used my speech from last year, and not many people may have even noticed the difference. So I asked my staff to ask around, what would all of you like to hear from me?
3. Boils down to three questions - Why I joined, why I stayed, and what worries me about the Public Service of Singapore. I am going to just share with you three stories. Three real stories.
4. Why I joined. I did not join the Public Service because of some lofty ambition to change the world and bring Singapore to the next higher plane. I joined the Public Service because I needed a scholarship to continue my studies. Otherwise, like many in my generation, I would have to start working after my ‘A’ Levels. Even getting to my ‘O’ Levels and ‘A’ Levels had required many scholarships and bursaries for me to be there. I did not aim to be a Minister, I wanted to be a librarian – it was a very logical choice.
5. I like to read books. The old library at Stamford Road, the red brick building, was one of the few places in Singapore that had air conditioning and allowed you to read books free of charge. And if I was a librarian, they would even pay me to do the job. I went to the PSC, got a scholarship application form and I indicated PSC (Open) so that I could be a librarian. But there were two blanks there. My teacher taught me that in any test or examination, never to leave a blank. I asked around about the other scholarships the PSC offered, someone shouted SAF, so I dutifully put SAF.
6. When I went for my interview, the PSC members asked me if I would be prepared to serve in the SAF. So I said did not choose the SAF, I wanted to be a librarian. The PSC told me, no, second choice the SAF, second choice is still a choice. So I joined the SAF. I did not wear spectacles. I was supposed to go to the Air Force. My mother told me in Mandarin - “做 人要脚踏实地” - keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. So I joined the Army. And to be even more specific, I joined the infantry.
7 I started learning to take care of my buddy, then my fellow section mates and another eight fellow soldiers. Then when I graduated, I became a platoon commander to take care of 28 men. Progressively, they trained me to take care of 100 men, a few hundred men, a few thousand men, a few ten thousand men, and eventually, a few hundred thousand men.
8. Why do I share this story with you? Moral of the story is that life has many twists and turns. Very often, we start off aiming very high to try to change the world, but it is often very useful to start doing things small and practically. And a good way to start to take care of the country is to learn to first take care of our fellow men who work with us. If we can take care of our buddy, then we can take care of our section mates, then we can take care of a few tens of people, a few hundred, we will get there. So do not worry as to why you decide to take up the Public Service Commission Scholarship. You may have loftier ideas than what I had, but I can assure you, you will go through the same path that I had. So long as your heart is at the right place, we will get from a few men to a few hundred thousand men, and these are fellow Singaporeans under our charge, looking forward to our service so that they all can have a better life than their forefathers.
9. Second story. Why did I stay? Now, more than 30 years in the Public Service. I will just tell you one story. During the course of my Public Service career, I had a chance to be posted overseas, to go on overseas missions, to go on overseas trips to talk to counterparts. And I will just share with you one very vivid example as to why I stayed.
10 I was in a foreign country. I was to call on one of the regional leaders away from the capital city. I submitted my request to meet that regional leader. I tried to get a breakfast meeting, it did not happen. I tried for a lunch meeting, it also did not happen. I tried for a dinner meeting, it still did not happen. Then I tried, why not the next day, I will wait for you, lunch, breakfast or dinner, any one will do. It still did not happen. On the second night, at about nine plus pm, a call came. “This particular personality has a slot at 10pm. Would you like to meet him for 15 minutes, maybe half an hour?”
11. I rushed over to meet him at 10pm after he had finished all his engagements. He looked at me and asked.
“Where are you from?”
“I am from Singapore.”
“And why do you want to see me?”
“I am from Singapore. I am here to establish friendship.”
And he looked at me, “Yes?”
12. And you could see the eyes politely trying not to ask the question “and of what value are you going to bring me or my region or my area?” And suddenly he turned around, “Where exactly is Singapore?”, asking his assistant.
“Ah,” he said. "Now I remember, that place south of the Malay Peninsula.”
13. We continued the rest of the conversation. But this left a deep impression on me. Sometimes in Singapore, we take for granted our very existence. Sometimes we forget that we are a small country trying to defy the odds of history by ensuring that we continue to remain relevant to people. Others who are bigger, stronger and mightier do not necessarily have to find reasons to engage us. We have to be the one to create the relevance for others to want to engage us and for us to be of value to others. Relevance.
14. What keeps me going. I have never taken for granted that Singapore will always be what it is. In my conversations with students and young people, I always ask them, “Do you think we will celebrate SG100 with greater pride and confidence?” Many of them say so and say yes, and I am very proud and very happy that they do so. I always start from the other assumption that we might never get there, unless we work hard, unless we continue to create relevance within the means that we have. I always start from the other assumption that we might not get there, unless we work hard as a team, muster the resources that we have, create value for other people, create relevance, and we will get there.
15. Finally, what worries me about the Public Service that I am so proud of? The more established and matured our system, the greater the dangers of ossification. The greater our success, the greater our dangers of complacency. The longer we defy the odds of history to not only survive but thrive, the greater the risk of hubris. And this comes to why we are here today. We are here today because we want to be eternally vigilant to guard against ossification, to guard against complacency, and to guard against hubris.
16. Like Tzu Yang, we are all proud of the Public Service not because the Public Service is perfect. We are proud of the Public Service because the Public Service constantly challenges ourselves to do better for our country and our people.
17 Many foreign commentators say that we have one of the best, if not the best, Public Service in the world. Some of them even give us a backhanded compliment and ask, "is your Public Service for hire?" No. It is not for hire nor for sale. But we are never complacent and this is why the Public Service Commission is constantly evolving and reviewing the way we select the next generation of Public Service scholars who hopefully will in time take over the leadership responsibility of this country. This is why we constantly challenge the Public Service Division to evolve and review the way we develop our officers, the way we deploy them, and the way we keep them agile.
18. Today's Public Service is different from the Public Service of the past. But that need for diversity has never changed; the need for teamwork has never changed.
19 And now, the last story that I promised you.
20 I grew up in the Singapore Armed Forces. I had the privilege to train with the militaries overseas, and I will just share with you one particular vignette of my training history. This was in the 1990s. I was in the US. I met a lady in my Command and Staff course. She was at that point in time 40 plus years old. She was five-foot plus, not exactly very tall by American standards, not exactly very fit from the look of it. And she was in the US Special Forces Reserves. And I looked at her, "Special Forces... No bulging biceps? No six-foot tall physique? Special Forces, really? Did you get it wrong?" No. In the US Special Forces, everybody has some minimum physical criteria, but that is just the entry level. One of the characteristics in all of US Special Forces selection was that everyone must bring a unique skill to the Special Forces.
21. The first Special Forces guy that I met in Fort Benning, my buddy. Besides being fit, he was an expert in astronomy. And what has astronomy to do with Special Forces? The lady whom I met – she was an expert in IT and computer system. That was in the 1990s. That was when the internet was just taking off. That was a time where the terms bugs, viruses, advanced persistent threats were not heard of. But for those learned people, these were already talked about; later, micro-robots that could fly in-between the gaps of a window, enter a room and spy on people – in the 1990s.
22. My laptop broke down. My very expensive, very heavy laptop broke down. At that point in time to get it fixed, I would have to send it to Texas. I passed it to her. She passed it back to me, back in original condition. That was almost 20 over years ago. Why do I tell you this story about the US Special Forces? Because I think it is a good value for us to have. Everyone brings something special to the team, and we need different teams to form the Special Forces. They have diverse capabilities that they can put together for a mission to surprise and outwit the enemy. The Singapore Public Service can take a leaf from this story.
23. I hope all of you will be like my friend, the lady. That in your studies, you will bring back a special unique skillset to Singapore, to the team; that one day while each of you having possessed that special skill will come together and wield those special skills as a team to take Singapore forward.
24. This is why in the Public Service, it is no longer sufficient just to have policy-making skills. You need policy-making skills. You need operations skills. You need communication skills. You need skills to mobilise the public to come along with us. And you need exposure beyond the Public Service. And we will systematically put everyone in the Public Service through the paces. Because the Public Service that we want is not a monolithic Public Service that can only answer the challenges of today. The Public Service that we aspire to be is one that will not only take care of fellow Singaporeans today, but to be able to anticipate the challenges and solve them ahead of time, even before fellow Singaporeans may become aware of it.
25. I learned lessons from the Special Forces lady who was skilled in computers. I knew about bugs, viruses, advanced persistent threats 25 years ago. Because I knew a bit more, I could help my own organisation become a bit less unprepared. And that, perhaps is all that we need to make sure that we keep Singapore staying ahead.
26 Finally, I would just like to end on this note.
27. Today, Singapore is no longer the same as the Singapore of 1965. The resources that we have are much more. The challenges that we have are also much more. The Pioneer Generation and the Merdeka Generation had much less, but they work hard individually and as a team to leave us with what we have today.
28. My generation has the duty to continue to build on this. By working as hard, as smart, if not harder and smarter to make sure that your generation will do even better than us. And I hope your generation will continue to maintain this sense of mission for Singapore to defy the odds of history, to not only survive and thrive as a small nation state without a hinterland. But instead, our hinterland is the world.
29. We will get there. We will get there, so long as each and every one of us in this room remember that we never defined our success by how well we do for ourselves in this generation only. We will get there. We will distinguish ourselves as fellow Singaporeans because each and every one of us in this room is committed to making sure that the next generation will do even better than us. Our definition of success is not how well we do for this generation alone. It is how well we enable the next generation to do even better than us. 30 20 years, 30 years later, maybe one or more of you might be standing on this stage to give out the awards to the next generation of scholarship recipients. The room may change, the challenges may change, but may our values never change. Always put our country before ourselves and always strive to take Singapore to the next level and ensure that every Singaporean has a better life tomorrow.
31 Thank you very much for your commitment.
OPENING ADDRESS BY CHAIRMAN OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION,
MR LEE TZU YANG AT THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION SCHOLARSHIPS AWARD CEREMONY
ON 17 JULY 2019 AT PARKROYAL HOTEL, GRAND BALLROOM
Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister of Trade and Industry, and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service
Mr Leo Yip, Head Civil Service
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Firstly, I would like to send my warmest congratulations to all scholarship recipients and their family, many of whom I know are present this evening. We also want to thank the teachers and principals for their tireless efforts in education, and also for working with the PSC in guiding the students on their career paths. I would like to also mention my fellow PSC members and the secretariat, for their time and energy input to the scholarship selection. Since coming into this role almost a year ago now, I have seen how committed my colleagues are to their responsibilities. The selection of scholarship recipients is an intense and long exercise, yet at every point we seek to improve.
2. Although not a constitutional role of the PSC, scholarship selection helps us maintain alignment with the objectives of the Public Service. At its best, it forces us to re-examine how we achieve our desired outcomes through people. As I mentioned at a recent dialogue with Year 2 PSC Scholarship recipients, I have fallen in love with the public sector despite its imperfections. So we work together on transforming to be a first class Public Service, worthy of Singapore.
3. This year, of the many thousands who applied for government scholarships, over 2,200 applied for PSC Scholarships. We will award 90 undergraduate and 3 postgraduate scholarships, making a total of 93 this year. The breadth and depth of talent is impressive in the young people we have seen. But as I’ve said before, a PSC Scholarship is an opportunity to serve the public, and we look beyond “smarts” for qualities like integrity, dedication to service and excellence.
4. This year, we looked harder into more areas to seek potential talent. In addition to a wider range of schools, we worked with the polytechnics to encourage interest in a Public Service career. We have 9 scholarship recipients from polytechnics this year, the highest so far, and our scholarship recipients come from 17 different institutions in total, which is also highest. We have scholarship recipients from IP (Integrated Programme), non-IP schools, as well as IB (International Baccalaureate) backgrounds. Our newest junior college, Eunoia has 3 scholarship recipients in their very first graduating cohort, which is as many as our oldest - National Junior College.
5. To achieve diversity requires us to select more effectively from a larger number of candidates. So PSC is looking into employing Game Based Assessment or GBA, as an additional tool. Validation exercises have been undertaken with our population, and we are likely to see this first be used this coming year. It will provide new dimensions not currently available from existing tools, and give perspectives on the diversity of candidates in those dimensions. By understanding the behaviour of candidates under different circumstances, we will be better able not just to understand individuals but also build teams. The experience so far is that GBA is fun, at least from those who have tried it out. It does not favour gamers; it does not penalise those with no gaming experience. And we will continue to look for ways to widen the selection process.
6. This year, PSC has also been more directive in steering candidates to different courses and countries of study. Our strategic intent is to develop talent with diverse disciplines, different experiences and broader networks. While we continue to promote STEM and especially Engineering, we have a range of scholarship recipients in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. An increasing trend is to combine, if not joint degrees then adding a minor where the combination allows powerful synergistic design of approach to real world challenges.
7. PSC is also promoting a wider range of countries of study through our scholarship offers. People’s Republic of China has drawn 8 scholarship recipients this year, of which 6 are undergraduates. 3 scholarship recipients will be proceeding to France for their studies, 2 awarded last year and 1 this year. So inevitably in this process, we have had to modify and re-channel the aspirations of some of our candidates, and in some cases we have had to turn down appeals but we take this considered approach in order to build our portfolio of talent.
8. Of significance is the growing number of scholarship recipients who now choose Singapore. Our universities here in Singapore are now recognised as internationally competitive in a growing range of disciplines, and they provide local students exposure to more international students and faculty who are living here, as well as many exchange opportunities to immerse local students in different cultures. This year, 29 scholarship recipients will be studying in Singapore universities, which is the highest in 10 years. This will help develop networks of local peers and stakeholders for our future.
9. In addition to the academic adventure of university, there are many ways to gain skills and experience of value in a Public Service career. PSC encourages its scholarship recipients to explore beyond the classroom, to engage the community, to understand people and their lives, both overseas and in Singapore. A gap year is increasingly being taken by scholarship recipients to work either in a private company or start-up venture or sometimes international institutions. We had a PSC Scholarship recipient work in UNESCO in Bangkok for 6 months on the Global Action Programme for Education for Sustainable Development. We had another PSC Scholarship recipient work 8 months in Beijing with Beijing Mobike, as a data strategist, advising city-level managers on managing pricing and incentives in their markets.
10. PSC partners Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) for PSC Scholarship recipients to join the YCS Leaders Programme. Scholarship recipients studying overseas are able to work on Singapore-centric initiatives, to provide rich multi-perspectives and keep in touch with developments at home. As an example, 3 PSC Scholarship recipients in the United States worked with local frontline colleagues in Singapore to set up coding workshops for the community here. These attracted participants from the age of 8 to 80 years old to learn Scratch and Python, to write their first computer programmes. It is so successful that it is planned to continue this year.
11. PSC Scholarship recipients will join our future Public Service, they will play key roles in bringing our nation and our people forward. So equipping yourselves with hard and soft skills can be through courses, choice of minors or summer programmes, but also through involvement with the community and long-term commitment to build understanding of how people change and develop.
12. I will end here by saying congratulations again, I wish all scholarship recipients a meaningful journey and hope that, like me, you too will grow to love the Public Service. Thank you very much.
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.