Speech by Mr Ng Chee Meng, Minister for Education (Schools) at the Tan Kah Kee Foundation Celebrations

Published Date: 18 November 2016 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1. It is my great pleasure to be here tonight to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Tan Kah Kee Foundation, 30th Anniversary of the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors’ Award and the 24th Anniversary of the Tan Kah Kee International Society.

2. The Tan Kah Kee Foundation has actively promoted education, entrepreneurship and culture in the memory and spirit of Mr Tan Kah Kee. I understand that tonight’s gala dinner is the highlight of the whole series of events organised by the Foundation to mark its anniversary.

3. Mr Tan Kah Kee is most well known as a philanthropist. But apart from being compassionate, he was also a bold and successful businessman. As we enter this era of the new economy in Singapore and around the world, it is timely that the Foundation has chosen to pay tribute to Mr Tan Kah Kee, in particular, his entrepreneurial spirit. Also known as the “Tan Kah Kee spirit”, there is much we all can learn from him - from his gutsy approach towards business ventures to, most importantly, his sense of responsibility and benevolence in giving back to society.

4. I’ll like to applaud the Foundation for their commendable efforts in educating and inspiring the public on the good work of Mr Tan Kah Kee. These include outreach projects such as the launch of a 3-week exhibition later this month at the Tan Kah Kee MRT Station and also an upcoming half-day workshop at Hwa Chong Institution, where speakers like Professor Wang Gungwu will share on the modernisation of the “Tan Kah Kee Spirit”.

The Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors’ Award

5. One of the major activities organised by the Foundation is the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors’ Award, which was mooted by Nobel Laureate in Physics Professor C.N. Yang.

6. Since its inception in 1986, the annual award has provided an avenue for young Singaporeans to challenge themselves in expressing their creativity and innovation, stimulating the inventive and hands-on entrepreneurial spirit of the younger generation. With the success of this award, the Foundation has also managed to extend the award to Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.

7. Over the last 30 years, the Foundation has given out almost 1,300 awards to youths. Some past recipients include the likes of Mr Roderick Chia. Roderick won his first award at the age of 17 and it has encouraged him to push his own boundaries of risk-taking and innovation. Today, he is a successful entrepreneur and has won not just 1, 2 or 3 TKK Young Inventors Awards, but 5! Today, Roderick is a venture inventor who invests in startups. He continues to contribute to the Foundation, serving as a judge on the TKKYIA to discover more talented youth.

The Tan Kah Kee Postgraduate Scholarship

8. The Tan Kah Kee Foundation also presents Postgraduate Scholarships to outstanding students pursuing their studies and research in local and overseas institutions of higher education. In line with Mr Tan Kah Kee’s commitment to social responsibility, the candidates are appraised not only on their academic achievements but also on their commitment to community service.

9. Since the launch of the Scholarship in 1983, the Scholarship has supported more than 200 recipients in various disciplines, ranging from the humanities, sciences, engineering, medicine, to music and fine arts. Many past award recipients are now active contributors back to the development of Singapore.

10. One of these recipients is Dr Goh Sao Ee. Sao Ee was teaching at Yishun Junior College, before embarking on his doctoral studies in Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education at the University of Pennsylvania. As a teacher, Sao Ee got around the challenge of getting his students to appreciate and manage global and socio-cultural sensitivities, through overseas projects and local work internships. Discussions of socio-scientific issues also helped his students see the relevance of science to the world at large. Today many of his students have emerged as leaders of various industries, including one working as a researcher at the established Max Planck Institute in Germany.

11. Sao Ee also volunteered with the Singapore International Foundation to bring youths overseas for service-learning projects. This gave them exposure to issues beyond Singapore and helped them develop both empathy for others and resilience in themselves.

12. Sao Ee is now a senior specialist at the Academy of Singapore Teachers where he does research, review and evaluation work for MOE. I am sure Sao Ee will continue being an excellent educator, one who sees the importance of marrying both theory and reality so students understand the application and relevance of their learning.

Tan Kah Kee International Society

13. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Tan Kah Kee International Society on their 24th anniversary. The society has played an important role in growing our international networks, in particular, in Shanghai, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Such partnerships are mutually beneficial. There is much we can learn about innovation and risk-taking from our international friends, while they are also able to tap on the strengths of our local academia.

14. One such partnership is the Tan Kah Kee Science Prize, which is the largest award in China in science for different categories like biology, physics, architecture and others. I’m happy that 9 representatives from Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), including winners of the Tan Kah Kee Science Prize, are able to join us tonight. I understand some of the winners will be giving lectures at our universities and schools.


15. Before I end, let me extend my heartiest congratulations once again to the Tan Kah Kee Foundation. Your contributions to society, especially in reaching out to the youths to encourage a spirit of creativity and inspiring them to make themselves useful citizens, are admirable. My best wishes for your continued success and contributions to Singapore.

16. Thank you.

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