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Opening Address by Chairman, Public Service Commission, Mr Eddie Teo at the 2013 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony on 23 July 2013
Speech by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at 2012 President's Scholarships Award Ceremony on 15 August 2012
Keynote Address by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Civil Service, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Teo Chee Hean at the 2012 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony on 24 July 2012
Opening Address by Chairman, Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship Fund, Mr Eddie Teo, at the 2012 Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship Award Ceremony
Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean, Minister in charge of the Civil Service, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Welcome to the 2013 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony. I would like to congratulate the 92 PSC scholarship recipients this year, who have been selected from a pool of over 2,200 applicants.
Beyond academic excellence
2. You were not chosen merely because you were book or exam smart. This is because academic results alone do not make a candidate suitable for the Public Service. Our experience in the Public Service shows very clearly that not all candidates who do well academically will make good Public Officers. Conversely, a person who fails to score straight ‘A’s can still be an excellent Public Officer.
3. You were chosen because you possessed qualities beyond academic ability, that the PSC believes will make you a good fit for the Public Service. These include leadership, commitment, integrity, empathy, people skills and a strong desire to help others. I am pleased that you have chosen to take up the PSC scholarship, and realise that in doing so, you are committed to a career to serve Singapore and its citizens. I would also like to express my appreciation to your families, principals and teachers who have nurtured and supported you along the way. A true measure of meritocracy is when the people who succeed realise how much help they got from the people around them.
Breadth in scholarship recipient pool
4. This year, 26 PSC scholarships are being awarded for science, mathematics and engineering courses – the highest since 2009. This is heartening, because we believe it is important to have officers with a broad range of training and knowledge in the Public Service. In addition, there will be many complex challenges on the horizon in many different fields of work within the public sector that could benefit from specialised training. In planning for our future transport and housing systems as well as regulating complex industries such as our energy market, it would help if our future public sector leaders are at least familiar or feel comfortable with these subjects when they help formulate government policies.
5. I am also happy to note the diverse educational backgrounds of this year’s scholarship recipients. They include students from 3 different Polytechnics as well as 2 students from the School of the Art (SOTA)’s pioneer cohort. The PSC continues to be on the lookout for good candidates from all schools and backgrounds.
6. Incidentally, one of the scholarship recipients from SOTA, Miss Ruby Gayle Thiagarajan, will also be the first scholarship recipient in 7 years to be heading to France to pursue her undergraduate studies. I congratulate Ruby for choosing the path less travelled. I am confident that she will discover many enriching experiences that she can bring back to Singapore when she returns to start work in the public service.
7. I would also like to congratulate the 3 PSC Masters scholarship recipients today – Mr Jeevaraj Suppiah, who will be pursuing a Master of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University later this year; Ms Xie Jiayin, who had started work at MOF before her course commences in 2014; and Mr Tham Zhi Kang Jansen, who recently graduated with a first class honours in Chemical Engineering at NUS.
8. PSC offers the Mid-term and Masters scholarships because it recognises that not all 18-year-olds may be able to commit themselves to a specific career. We do not want anyone, no matter how talented, to rush into taking up PSC scholarships without fully realising what it means to be a public servant. Those who were unsure at 18 will still have a chance to take up a Masters scholarship after they have finished their undergraduate studies.
High quality education in local universities
9. Many candidates at PSC interviews express a desire to study overseas. They explain that studying abroad would broaden their perspectives and allow them to discuss issues and interact with students of other nationalities. Some also cite the unique qualities and experiences found in world-renowned overseas universities. These reasons are valid, but our students may not realize how much the local higher educational scene has changed and that what they are seeking overseas can in fact be found locally.
10. PSC scholarship recipients who pursue their undergraduate degree locally now have the opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree in any country of their choice. For example, 2008 recipient Miss Genim Tan Siu Xian, will complete her Master’s degree in Global Health Science at the University of Oxford this year. She had earlier graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS). Another 2008 recipient Mr Kang Ping Song Marvin, also an NUS graduate, is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
11. The features of an overseas education can also be increasingly found in our local institutions. Our local universities have been raising their global profile and offering a more cosmopolitan experience. Based on the latest US News and World Report, NUS was ranked #25, consolidating its position as a premier institution in the world. NTU also moved up to #47. As the global draw of local universities increases, the opportunities for local undergraduates to interact with peers of different nationalities will increase. Taken together, the initiatives and offerings by local universities have helped enhance the attractiveness and uniqueness of a local education.
12. Local universities also offer student exchange programmes which allow local undergraduates to experience life abroad. In some cases, they have even partnered with overseas institutions to create new institutions and programmes. Among the 15 PSC scholarship recipients who have chosen to pursue their undergraduate studies locally this year, we have our first scholarship recipients heading to the recently established Yale-NUS College. Miss Leong Wei Shan Clarissa and Miss Priscilla Tay Si Min will be part of the pioneer cohort at the Yale-NUS College to read Economics and Liberal Arts respectively.
13. Another recently-established institution is the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Mr Leong Hei Kern will be pursing Engineering in SUTD in 2015 after he completes his National Service. He will have the chance to be part of a unique collaboration between SUTD and MIT.
14. Regardless of where you will be pursuing your studies, I look forward to seeing you back in a few years. I am sure you will contribute to the Public Service in many ways. Until then, seek every opportunity to better yourself both as a person and as a future Public Officer. Keep your mind open to new ideas and experiences. Get out of your comfort zone whenever you can. Make new friends and sustain the friendships you make, and always remember that there are many lessons in life you can learn outside the classroom.
15. Once again, my heartiest congratulations. Thank you.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean
and Mrs Teo
Chairman and Members of the
Public Service Commission
1. Good evening.
2. Each year, the public sector awards many scholarships to outstanding young Singaporeans who are committed to public service. Among these scholarships, the President’s Scholarship is the most prestigious award for the best and brightest scholars in the cohort. Besides excelling in academics, the President’s scholar must be an outstanding leader, a person of impeccable character, and deeply passionate about Singapore.
The Rich Heritage of the President’s Scholarship
3. The President’s Scholarship has a long and illustrious history. It traces back to the Queen’s Scholarship which was introduced in 1885 when Singapore was still a British colony. In 1959, the Queen’s Scholarship was replaced by the Singapore State Scholarship when Singapore was granted internal self-government. This was subsequently renamed the Yang di-Pertuan Negara Scholarship in 1964 and finally came to be known as the President’s Scholarship in 1966, a year after Singapore gained independence from Malaysia.
4. The Scholarship has also evolved over the years to provide a broader base of outstanding young persons with the opportunity to acquire a good education and contribute to society. For instance, while the Queens Scholarship was restricted only to boys, the gender restriction has since been removed. The most recent change, made in 2009, was to extend the President’s Scholarship to scholars from the Statutory Boards so that outstanding students with a strong passion to serve in a specialised career within the Public Service may be considered for the scholarship.
5. Regardless of changes in name or regulations, the principles of awarding the President’s Scholarship strictly on the basis of meritocracy - not just on academic ability, but also on soundness of character - have been consistent. The high expectations that our community have for President Scholars to work hard and excel not just academically, but also in service to our society, remain the same.
2012 President’s Scholars
6. This evening, we will award the President’s Scholarship to five outstanding candidates. They are Mr Adil Hakeem Bin Mohamad Rafee, Mr Huang Jinghao Jarret, Mr Shaun Lim Yung Shen, Mr Moses Soh Juen Wei Huei Quan, and Miss Tee Ren Ling Alicia.
7. Adil, Jarret and Alicia have also been awarded the Public Service Commission Overseas Merit Scholarship. Shaun has been concurrently awarded the Singapore Police Force Overseas Scholarship, and Moses, a scholarship from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
8. I congratulate each of you for having being recognised by the Public Service Commission for your intellectual capability, leadership potential and desire to bring the nation forward.
Bringing Singapore Forward
9. We have just celebrated Singapore’s 47th year of independence. The foresight and political will of our pioneer leaders have brought Singapore from a small trading port to the global metropolis that Singapore is today.
10. Singapore will continue to need visionary, brave and passionate leaders with the ability and heart to bring the nation forward. The global environment will be more volatile and unpredictable. We also need to address the changing aspirations of our citizens. As recipients of the President’s Scholarship, I hope you will carry that torch of our pioneers, and be the new generation of leaders who will bring Singapore to even greater heights.
11. This scholarship will open doors to you. I encourage you to seize the opportunities to hone your skills, develop your networks and learn as much as you can about how the world is changing so that you can contribute to innovative solutions not only to solve the pressing issues confronting Singapore now but also to position Singapore for continued success in the years to come.
12. Remember your duties to Singapore and fellow Singaporeans. Continue to be an active member in the community and help the less privileged. For our society to remain strong and cohesive, we need public officers who are attuned to the needs and aspirations of fellow citizens. As President’s scholars, you will be looked upon as role models personifying the Civil Service values of Integrity, Service and Excellence. I urge you to lead by example and set the standard for others to emulate.
13. I am confident that Adil, Jarret, Shaun, Moses and Alicia will live up to the high standards expected of them, and do Singapore proud. It leaves me now to congratulate you, your families, principals and teachers for your outstanding achievements. I wish you every success in your studies and look forward to your contributions to Singapore when you return.
14. Thank you.
Mr Eddie Teo, Chairman, Public Service Commission
Members of the PSC
Distinguished guests, principals, parents, teachers, scholarship recipients
Ladies and gentlemen
1. I am very happy to join you here this afternoon for this year’s Public Service Commission Scholarships Award Ceremony.
2. Let me first congratulate the 61 scholarship recipients. You are being recognized not just for your academic performance, but also your leadership potential and, most of all, your desire to make our country a better home for all of us.
3. To the parents, principals and teachers, I share your joy on this special occasion. I am sure you are very proud that you have nurtured an outstanding son, daughter, or student, who now stands ready to answer the call of duty to our nation. Let me invite the scholarship recipients to join me in a warm round of applause for all of you.
4. For the scholarship recipients, I am heartened to know you still come from diverse educational backgrounds, and will pursue your studies in different universities and disciplines. Issues in Singapore are becoming more complex. The Public Service and Public Service officers would deal with these complexities. Therefore, officers with different backgrounds and training – from science and engineering to the arts and humanities – and experiences in different countries would be very useful to us.
5. To the scholarship recipients, today marks the start of your exciting journey to serve the country. I am glad that you have made a career choice to join the Singapore Public Service by accepting this scholarship.
6. Bright young students today have many choices in terms of their careers. Many more can afford to fund their own studies, and scholarships, including bond-free ones, are available.
7. The PSC will continue to ensure that its scholarship terms remain attractive, so that we continue to have a strong pipe-line of officers each year to ensure that our public service remains excellent in the future. But it is not just about providing attractive scholarship terms. What is more important is to attract the right kind of people, who are motivated to take up the PSC scholarships by the exciting and meaningful career propositions that the Public Service offers.
8. Public service offers you a chance to make a positive difference to the lives of Singaporeans. And indeed our public officers do, everyday – some behind the scenes, others in frontline services. Essentially, to be a good public officer, you must derive satisfaction and happiness from other people’s happiness and satisfaction. And that is what makes you, ultimately, a good public officer who is happy to serve.
Public Service in a Changing Landscape
9. When I was a student around your age and thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, I decided that I would join the public sector. The bottom line that I worked for, would not be a company’s profits, but the greater good of Singapore and Singaporeans. So with that in mind, I took up the Singapore Armed Forces Scholarship in 1973, and served in the Navy upon my graduation. 40 years later now, I have no regrets. It has been a good experience, with many wonderful opportunities to work in diverse areas to serve Singapore and Singaporeans.
10. Today, the landscape in which our public officers operate in is very different. With globalization and easy access to information, Singaporeans are more informed and participative. This is a good thing. Many have good ideas to contribute and want to do something positive. The Public Service should work more closely with those who are prepared to devote time and energy to help make a difference for the good of Singapore and Singaporeans.
11. So what can you expect when you start your own Public Service career some four to six years from now? The world may again have changed quite dramatically in the ensuing years while you are studying, but I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight two key trends that will shape the Public Service, and which will be important to you in your work in the coming years. They are Collaboration and Engagement. These are no different from what you will be required to do in any sector, whether in the public or private sectors, or even in the people sector.
Opportunities for Cross-Agency Collaboration
12. First, collaboration. Today, many issues and challenges are increasingly multi-disciplinary and inter-connected. Often times, one ministry or agency may not be able to solve such cross-cutting issues on its own, and needs to work with others in partnership or collaboration to develop holistic solutions that work well.
13. Take for instance the demographic challenges confronting Singapore – ageing population, low birth rates, and hence a shrinking workforce. How do we encourage Singaporeans to marry younger and have more children? It is not a simple policy prescription which says do this, and out comes that. It doesn’t work that way. How do we raise productivity of our workforce so that we can overcome problems of a declining workforce? Or how do we better cater to the needs of an elderly population? You can’t do that just by starting a new agency in the government. These are all complex and intertwined challenges, and officers from various ministries, departments and Statutory Boards need to come together to think through the issues thoroughly, deeply, holistically, and recommend the best ways to take us forward. It is not just about thinking about them, but making them work.
14. In the case of population issues, the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) from the Prime Minister’s Office works with several agencies, including the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports on marriage and parenthood, the Ministry of Health on healthcare needs for the elderly, the Ministry of Trade and Industry to raise productivity, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority on immigration matters, the Housing and Development Board for public housing, the Urban Redevelopment Authority on land use. To come up with good policies, NPTD needs to work with stakeholders and the public to understand and review Singapore’s population goals and policies.
15. In the future, we will increasingly have to make difficult trade-offs when making and implementing policies. Do we want to build an eldercare centre, or a basketball court in a particular precinct? Do we stop more foreign manpower from coming in, or take in more in certain industries, like healthcare, to take care of our elderly? Which are the new economic sectors that we should be encouraging and favouring to give us a better future? All of these involve trade-offs of one kind or another. What makes Singapore unique is that we have not chosen one particular solution over another, but that in our little island, we have been able to strike the right balance between all of them to allow our population to grow, and our people to be better off year after year, decade after decade. I’m confident that with a good public service serving Singaporeans, we will have the ability to continue to do so in the future.
16. Public agencies will need to examine the policy options and trade-offs across agencies and domains. We hope that these collaborative efforts will enable the Singapore Government as a whole to develop better government policies to tackle the complex challenges we face.
Opportunities for Public Engagement
17. The second is Engagement. Beyond working with other public officers, the work that we do as public officers also involves many external partnerships and engagements. Increasingly, we need to also see engagement as co-creation, and not just a communication of information, but as co-creation through the joint efforts of the Public Service, and the people we are here to serve.
18. Through public engagement and co-creation, we can develop sound policies to make Singapore a better place for. In addition, individuals and groups who played a part in co-creating a solution would have a greater sense of ownership, and can even help to champion the solution with the larger community.
19. For example, at the new Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, patients and family members got involved in suggesting facility improvements including little things like location of lights, the tilt of TV monitors, and the temperature of the air conditioning. These are small things, but they make a big difference in the patients’ experience and their families’ experience. Patients and families also gave feedback on caregiver needs, for example, the difficulties they face when bringing their elderly parents for appointments and reviews with doctors. By acting on such feedback, the hospital improved its facilities and services. The hospital also co-creates with partners such as the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, the Singapore Institute of Architects, and various government agencies. Some of the co-created ideas include easy access for the handicapped, rooftop gardens to lower building temperature, and cluster service facilities for patients’ convenience.
20. Let me share another example. Under the private, people, public partnership, Voluntary Welfare Organisations play a useful role by complementing the services provided by the Government. This is particularly useful, when VWOs venture into new areas that are un-served or under-served, and where commitment and personal touch really makes a difference. For example, the Singapore Anglican Community Services provides support to the psychiatrically ill and emotionally disturbed, in a community setting. They have four mental health centres which help clients to regain their confidence through the provision of counseling, work therapy, vocational training and job placement. One of these centres is actually in my constituency, and I have seen how some of the residents have benefitted from the good work done by these mental health centres in a community setting.
21. To harness the community’s energy and enthusiasm, we need to reach out to the public more effectively. There is room for the Public Service to leverage more on new tools such as social media platforms to engage and connect with the public. I hope that young people like you can take the lead in bringing the Public Service forward in this aspect, having grown up in the age of the internet, computers and digital devices where people are connected with each other all the time.
22. I look forward to the Public Service building a stronger, win-win partnership with the public that we serve. Through greater engagement and more co-creation, I am confident that we will not only develop solutions that better meet the needs of Singaporeans, but also, at the same time, strengthen the community spirit and sense of ownership for this project of ours which is Singapore.
Staying True to Our Public Service Values
23. Before I end, I would like to reiterate that even while the Public Service is transforming itself to better serve the public, our core values remain unchanged. The values of integrity, service and excellence must underpin everything we do.
24. Our officers know that as stewards of public resources, they are expected to perform their duties with the highest standards of integrity. They must guard against behaving in any way that can erode the trust that Singaporeans have in the Public Service. We will strictly maintain that in the public service and we must remember this, always.
25. The excellent Public Service that we have today has taken more than 50 years to build. The 2011/2012 Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum assessed Singapore’s institutions to be the best in the world, for good government, good government efficiency and lack of corruption. As PSC scholarship recipients, you will have an active part to play in shaping the public service’s future direction and reputation. You have the responsibility to keep it a strong and enduring institution, to help Singapore remain exceptional even as the world around us goes through tremendous change.
26. I am glad that you have chosen this challenging and meaningful career. The Public Service exists to serve the public, and to serve Singaporeans. This is why I joined the public service, and why you have joined the public service. Let us all, in our own ways, do our best for Singapore and Singaporeans.
27. I wish you all the best as you embark on your studies, and success as you begin your journey in the Public Service and in serving Singapore and Singaporeans.
28. Thank you.
Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Civil Service, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs
1 Welcome to the 2012 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony. Let me first congratulate this year’s PSC scholarship recipients. PSC scholarships are awarded to students who are exceptional not only in their academic achievements, but also demonstrate strong leadership qualities and a commitment to serve in the Singapore Public Service. This year, from a pool of over 2000 applicants, the PSC shortlisted 300 candidates for the interview. Eventually, only 61 were awarded. You are all deserving candidates who have met PSC’s high standards.
2 To the families, principals and teachers of the scholarship recipients, I offer my heartiest congratulations. Their achievements represent the fruit of your dedication in nurturing and bringing out the best in them.
Selection of Scholarship Recipients
3 I am pleased to highlight that this year’s pool of scholarship recipients continue to come from diverse educational backgrounds. A total of 15 schools are represented among you. There are students from junior colleges, polytechnics, schools that offer the Integrated Programme, and schools that offer the International Baccalaureate diploma programme. PSC will continue to reach out to students from different educational institutions and backgrounds in our search for deserving candidates.
4 In addition, the PSC is glad to have 2 mid-term scholarship recipients this year. Miss Clare Chng has been awarded the Overseas Merit Scholarship to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Warwick. Mr Ng Xiang Long has been awarded the Singapore Government Scholarship to read Business Administration and Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. We will continue to leverage on our mid-term scholarship to bring in outstanding undergraduate students into the Public Service.
Choice of Universities
5 I am also pleased to note that the scholarship recipients will be pursuing their undergraduate studies in different universities in different countries. 29 of you will be studying in the United Kingdom, 22 in the United States of America, and 2 in the People’s Republic of China. A number of you have also chosen to study in local universities. The range of experiences, exposure and insight that you gain from your diverse training will be beneficial to Singapore as we face complex national and global issues that require diverse perspectives and approaches.
Go Beyond Academic Excellence
6 Beyond the educational experience that your university can offer you, I also encourage you to be proactive in seeking opportunities to cultivate skills that will make you a stronger public officer when you return. One skill that has become very important for public officers is the skill to empathise with and engage others. Hence, use the next few years to seek experiences that will equip you with the soft skills needed to engage and connect with others. Venture outside your classroom and be in touch with the community. Interact with different people in and beyond your campus. Continue to volunteer and serve in the community. These experiences will serve you well when you engage different stakeholders and formulate policies that impact your fellow citizens in the future.
7 Also, take the opportunity to cultivate networks with your classmates, mentors and professors in the next few years. Be good ambassadors for the Singapore Public Service, and build a wide pool of friends for Singapore. As a small nation, we need all the friends we can find to collaborate and work with, to further Singapore’s interests.
Make Full Use of PSC Development Programmes
8 Of course, we will continue to support you in your journey to prepare yourself for a career in the Public Service. You have recently completed a 2-week Preparatory Course which includes learning journeys to Community Development Councils. You also engaged public officers at different levels to understand the challenges of working in the Public Service. The programme has exposed you to real community issues and given you a snapshot on what it is like to serve the public. There will be other structured programmes coming your way. An example is the PSC Scholars’ Mid-Course Programme conducted during the second year of your university studies. In that programme, you will deliberate and discuss policy issues with senior public sector and community leaders. You will also participate in a Ministry attachment stint.
9 Beyond these structured programmes, you can also seek other developmental opportunities on your own. I would like to share that 2 PSC scholarship holders studying in Princeton are currently embarking on a research project during their summer programme in Japan to better understand how the Japanese government dealt with the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. Their learning points are relevant to the Public Service, in particular the Ministries of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.
10 In short, use the next few years to prepare yourself to be as good a public officer you can be. I am sure you will do us proud by excelling beyond your academic studies. I wish you every success and look forward to your future contributions in the Public Service.
11 Thank you.