Speech by President Halimah Yacob at the 2018 President's Scholarships Award

Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security

Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service

Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education

Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Education and Finance

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening.

Every year, the President’s Scholarship is awarded to outstanding young men and women who commit to serve our nation through a career in the Public Service and are dedicated to serving Singapore and fellow Singaporeans.

This evening, we have gathered to recognise and celebrate the achievements and commitment of five outstanding young Singaporeans. They are:

a) Probationary Inspector Alden Tan Ming Yang;

b) Officer Cadet Sharmaine Koh Mingli;

c) Miss Shi Peng Yi Penny;

d) Probationary Inspector Stefan Liew Jing Rui; and

e) Miss Tan Xin Hwee

Alden will pursue his studies in Economics, and Stefan will read Liberal Arts. Both of them will serve in the Singapore Police Force upon graduation. Sharmaine will study History and Politics and serve in the Singapore Armed Forces. Penny will read Urban Studies and Xin Hwee will study Psychology and Philosophy. They will serve in the Public Service.

My heartfelt congratulations to each of you.

Today, we enjoy the fruits of the hard work put in by our pioneer leaders, who shaped the Singapore we see today. Their wisdom, foresight and bold action have laid the foundation for our economically competitive, prosperous and well-governed nation state.

However, we cannot rest on our laurels. The global environment is constantly evolving and filled with uncertainties. Today we have to navigate through many complex issues, from security threats to economic and trade disputes. Every generation must face and tackle its own set of challenges.

As President’s Scholars, you have the responsibility to lead your fellow Singaporeans in tackling tomorrow’s challenges. As leaders, you need to inspire your colleagues to build the future Singapore, introduce innovative solutions and implement practical policies to address the challenges and secure Singapore’s place in the world. While the future that lies ahead is uncertain, one thing for sure is the need to continuously strive to improve. We are all in this together and it is only when we work as one, can we build a flourishing Singapore for generations to come.

In adapting to disruptive changes, the new generation of leaders must be grounded and hold on to what is evergreen – our values, our character and our commitment. Through perseverance, determination and foresight, our forefathers built up a successful nation based on meritocracy, integrity and impartiality. We must never forget or abandon these values. The challenges will be different, but our values will be what unite us and keep us strong. We must not let the tides of change divide us.

As leaders of tomorrow, you will be responsible for rallying your fellow citizens to work together. To do this, you must remain closely connected to the ground, and serve with dedication and humility. The Public Service can only succeed if it is built on trust; trust that public officers will uphold Singapore’s best interests. We must serve with empathy, and put the needs of others before ourselves. Never lose sight of the mission to serve Singapore and Singaporeans.

I would also like to congratulate the families, principals, teachers and friends of our recipients. You have played an important role in developing their potential and moulding their character and values.

Alden, Sharmaine, Penny, Stefan and Xin Hwee – today, you are recipients of the President’s Scholarship. Tomorrow, you become ambassadors of the future Public Service and future generation of Singaporeans. Continue to challenge yourselves to push boundaries. And through it all, always remember that you are role models of the Public Service values of Integrity, Service and Excellence.

Securing the President’s Scholarship and achieving great heights in your education and career, are not ends in themselves. Ultimately, that success must be translated into tangible contributions towards our effort to build a fair, just and equitable society for the benefit of everyone. Our society has high expectations of you, and that is as it should be. We must expect our best and brightest who have benefitted from the system to also contribute more to our society.

I am confident that you will make Singapore proud. I wish you every success in your journey ahead and look forward to you serving the nation with passion when you begin your careers in the Public Service.

Before I conclude, I would like to pay tribute to Mr Eddie Teo, who retired as Chairman of the Public Service Commission on 31st July this year. He is not able to join us this evening as he is taking a well-deserved break overseas. Mr Teo has been responsible for the identification and selection of President’s Scholarship recipients for the past 10 years. His work has ensured that Singapore continues to attract and retain a fair share of talent in the Public Service. Mr Teo’s high standards of integrity and professionalism manifested in how he selected the scholarship holders and promoted senior officials, which in turn shaped Singapore’s clean and effective Administration. We are indebted to him for the first-class Public Service we have today. We, especially the recipients of this year’s President’s Scholarship, have much to learn from Mr Teo.

Thank you.