Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Education at Campvision Lead Programme Graduation Ceremony

Published Date: 26 October 2019 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1. It is a great pleasure to be here with you today. When they invited me for this event, I was very happy to accept the invitation because I strongly believe that it is important to build leadership skills, confidence, good communication, and to have goal setting.

2. All of you, including the executive coaches, subject matter experts and volunteers, have spent many weekends in this LEAD programme. This is really admirable because what you are really doing is building a future generation of leaders.

3. It may be a cliché, but we all know that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For those who are participating in the programme, yours has just begun. You have set your sights high, you know the challenges of tomorrow will require new abilities, and you have taken that first step to begin that journey of lifelong learning and honing your skills.

4. What does it mean to be a leader? Is there a textbook, some sort of formula or is there something you can learn beforehand? The truth of the matter is that there is no such formula. You have to find your way, but before you can lead others, you have to be comfortable with yourself. You have to be able to overcome your own fears, your own limitations.

5. The first step to leadership is knowing yourself; to be comfortable in your own skin and accept yourself for who you are. Things that you are good at – keep working at it. And things that you are not good at – work at improving it.

6. The other thing about leadership is that if you are going to lead others, you must know them – you must empathise with them and know how they feel, because if you cannot understand how they feel, why would they listen to what you have to say? What you may be saying or thinking might completely be at odds with what they are thinking and doing. So leadership is also about listening, understanding, empathising and actually doing the best for those you are leading.

7 This is one of the reasons why DPM Heng Swee Keat launched the Singapore Together – or SG Together – movement. He has described it as a new style of governance. While we have had very strong leadership, the new group of leaders – the 4G leaders – wanted to really hear and listen to what people have to say. Hence, SG Together – because when we do something, we want to do it together with the people and listen to them.


8. My wish for Singaporeans like yourselves is to be able to adapt and navigate because the world and circumstances are not static. Your leadership skills are fine for today but tomorrow, things may change and you may need new skills, or do certain things in a different way. In order to do that, you must be willing to learn. All leaders, at some point and at some stage, must have the ability to be able to learn. If you always say to yourself that "I will only do things in the way I have always done them", then you get stuck in time and after a while, are no longer relevant and cannot relate to the people that you lead. Remember that it is very important to be able to adapt in order to navigate the world, especially when technology is reshaping lives.

9. The second thing is to be able to have different skills, talents and abilities in order to realise the opportunities ahead. The world is changing really quickly. The skillsets that we taught in the past – the things that you learnt in school or even outside – they are fine for today, but for tomorrow they may not be. You will have to learn new skills, some of which we may not even know we have to learn. So the only thing that will get you through it is if you tell yourself that whatever comes your way, you will not be afraid and will make the effort to learn it.

10. I see this with the senior citizens in my constituency. Some of them do not know how to use their handphones, or how to use some of the apps. But when you teach them, they get used to it after a while and I now have some of the aunties and uncles coming up asking to take selfies. It is not quite what you expect them to do, but they do – and that is because their grandchildren have taught them and they have had a willingness to learn. That is great because we want everybody, at every age, to be able to continue learning.

11. The other thing about leadership is to have that intrinsic sense of belonging to Singapore, and to be anchored in the belief that each and every individual has something to contribute to our society.

12. Singapore must always be a place where everyone can belong – whether as individuals, businesses, or community organisations – we want people to be able to actively come together, to partner one another and help each other, in particular, those who are vulnerable in our society. We must all work together to ensure Singapore continues to be a society of opportunities, where every Singaporean can progress irrespective of background.

13. If you look around the world, you will see that there are many places where there are a lot of division, polarisation and inequity. A lot of this is because issues and problems are not addressed. We want Singapore to be a place where we look at all the different vulnerabilities and needs, and we address them and are there for each other. Where we, as a nation and as a people, have each other's backs.

14. Thus, I am very heartened by the work that all of you have done, especially Leona, Suan Wei and their group of volunteers in CampVision. They journey with you through the camp and training, coach and mentor you, and most importantly, lead by example. They do this on top of their full-time jobs to ensure that youths, regardless of their family background and schools they attend, can develop into confident adults who will set goals and chase after them.

15. I hope to see our young people chase more rainbows and do us proud. This is why I am chairing UPLIFT, an inter-agency taskforce that was set up to strengthen support for students from low-income families within and beyond schools. The idea behind UPLIFT is that we want every child to have an environment which is like an uplifting village, where everybody comes together to support the child and his family. We want Singapore to always be a place where you can progress, no matter what your background is.

16. I hope that all of you continue to enjoy your camp, continue to grow in your leadership skills, do well and lead others and, as individuals, grow into young leaders because the future of Singapore rests in your hands.

17. Thank you all very much.

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