Speech by Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Second Minister for Education, at the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS) Award Ceremony

Published Date: 14 August 2020 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1. Good afternoon. I am happy to join you virtually to celebrate your first significant milestone in your journey as a Singapore-Industry Scholarship recipient. My heartiest congratulations to all 138 SgIS scholars and your families!

2020, a Year Like No Other

2. 2020 is a year like no other. Countries around the world have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic since early this year. The pandemic has not only placed immense pressures on public healthcare systems, but has also disrupted the lives and livelihoods of many. Countries are now grappling with this imminent economic downturn triggered by this health pandemic.

3. Singapore, being an open economy and society is not spared either. We are officially in a technical recession. Businesses have been severely impacted by the disruption in global supply chains and border restrictions. This in turn affects jobs as companies downsize or even freeze hiring. Our hub status is being threatened as the aviation and maritime industries are experiencing the worst slowdown ever. Indeed, as PM Lee said, COVID-19 "is not only a public health issue, but also a serious economic, social and political problem", and this is "a crisis of a generation".

4. While the circumstances have been difficult for many businesses, we are gratified that our SgIS Sponsoring Organisations (SOs) are continuing their support for SgIS - the 2020 SgIS award number remains comparable to the previous year. Some SOs have shared that it is important for them to look long term and continue to develop talents and grow a strong Singaporean core for their business, even during these challenging times.

5. It is also this strong focus on developing the future leaders of Singapore that allows us to grow SgIS steadily from an initial 28 SOs to 75 SOs today, and 90 scholars when SgIS first started in 2012 to a total of nearly 1000 scholarships awarded to date! I would like to thank our SOs for their unwavering support, and the Economic Agencies for their strong partnerships in this important endeavour for Singapore.

6. This strong emphasis on our people, our most precious resource, has always been the hallmark of the Singapore system. Our good education system, skilled workforce and the capabilities of our people are some of the key strengths of Singapore. The safety and security of our country is also highly valued by investors. It is no wonder that the Economic Development Board has attracted $13 billion in investments in the first 4 months of this year, despite the trying times.

Navigating the Post-COVID-19 World

7. Nonetheless, the road ahead in the post-COVID-19 world is not going to be easy. As future industry leaders, I urge all SgIS scholars to continue to build on the strengths of Singapore and help chart the way forward for our industries. You will need to have the resilience to ride through the rough waters ahead.

8. I am happy to see such resilience in Cheung Po Rui Bryan, a SgIS Full-Term scholar. After completing NITEC in Aerospace Avionics at ITE College Central, Bryan was admitted to Temasek Polytechnic through the Polytechnic Direct Admissions Exercise based on his active participation in student activities and volunteering services. Initially, I was told Bryan faced difficulty adjusting to the academic rigour in the Polytechnic, and even failed several modules in the first semester. However, unfazed by the challenges, Bryan persevered and worked hard. His efforts paid off. He was one of the few students chosen for the Youth Talent Programme by Airbus in Toulouse France. He eventually graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with multiple awards, including the Edusave Skill Award. Bryan believes that learning is like a marathon, requiring consistent hard work and steadfast effort. His perseverance is indeed inspiring! Bryan will continue his journey at NUS to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering and will join SMRT after graduation.

9. Apart from resilience, you will also need to be adaptable, keep an open mind, and to continuously upskill yourself, in order to navigate and thrive in the post-COVID world. Ijaz Ahmed Navas, a SgIS Mid-Term scholar, has been doing this. Since young, Ijaz has a strong interest in science and engineering, and participated in various Olympiads, Hackathons and engineering-related clubs when he was studying at Anglo Chinese School (Independent), to hone his skills and knowledge. Beyond technical skills, Ijaz firmly believes in developing himself holistically, to grow into an all-rounded and proficient engineer. At NUS, Ijaz has been participating actively as a member of the NUS Indian Cultural Society. He had also taken up a technopreneurship module in his first year at NUS, where he led a team to work on an innovation project. All these diverse experiences strengthened his cultural understanding, leadership and management skills. Ijaz is now ready for his next new experience – he will be starting the new term with Telecom ParisTech in September, as part of the NUS French Double Degree Programme. However, due to the COVID-19 situation, he will start with online classes and will complete the remaining classes in France later on, where he will be exposed to new cultures and experiences. I am sure Ijaz will continue to grow and thrive across different environments, and look forward to him contributing to MediaTek after graduation.

10. In pursuing your goals in your studies and in your career, I hope all of you will continue to care about the people around you, especially those who are not as fortunate and need a helping hand, so that as you grow, you will also lift the community around you. Nur Syafiqah Binte Rahsid, a SgIS Mid-Term scholar with National Council of Social Service (NCSS), has exhibited this quality since young. Volunteering has been a major part of Syafiqah's life since secondary school. It first began with the structured Community Involvement Programmes organised by her CCA, the National Police Cadet Corps, but Syafiqah did not just stop there. She later interned at Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre, before entering Victoria Junior College, where she planned and organised holiday programmes for young children. In NTU now, Syafiqah serves as a committee member for the WeeVolunteer Programme, a student-led programme that helps local and overseas communities in need. In one of the projects, she served as a befriender of children and elderly folks at various care centres such as the Jamiyah Home for the Aged. Syafiqah also does other volunteer work outside of university, at her own free time. More recently, she volunteered to deliver food to residents staying in rental flats during the Circuit Breaker period. Through volunteering, Syafiqah has grown to become more sensitive, empathetic, and adaptable as she works and interacts with people from all walks of life. She aspires to be a leader who takes good care of her team, supports their growth, and to better the community as a whole. Thank you, Syafiqah, for all your great work, and we believe that you will have a fulfilling career in the social service sector.

11. Indeed, you will need many different skillsets to survive and succeed in the post-COVID-19 world. We foresee more changes in the local and global economy moving forward. Many companies will have to reorganise themselves. Some sectors may have to fold while other sectors will thrive. Competition for jobs, investment and talent is likely to become more intense, not just locally but globally. We cannot afford to be complacent. We have to be daring and seize new opportunities as they come. We have to keep on learning, build on our foundations, get out of our comfort zones and strengthen our networks, to collaborate across teams to solve issues that are increasingly complex and multi-faceted. This is also a sentiment shared by your senior, Goh Ser Ming, a SgIS Mid-Term Local scholar awarded by Toppan Ecquaria in 2016.

12. Ser Ming majored in Computing (Information Systems) at NUS and shared that he is grateful for the opportunities that SgIS has given him to interact with peers working in different industries. It allowed him to learn from their experiences and appreciate how these industries are interrelated in their different functions. Such exposures and understanding have helped him to come up with meaningful IT solutions for various industries and bring an impact to people's lives. For instance, Ser Ming was involved in a project to digitally transform the operations of the Family Justice Courts of Singapore, enabling citizens to complete their Mental Capacity Act order applications online, without appearing physically at the courts, which is especially important now given the current COVID-19 situation. The online application is more efficient and in turn serves our citizens better. His work at this project has won praises from the Judges of the Family Justice Court and the respect of his team members, both seniors and peers alike. With his stellar work performance, Ser Ming has risen the ranks from System Analyst in 2017 to Project Lead, and to Consulting Manager now. Ser Ming is now managing his own team of developers and is in charge of another development project with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.

Conclusion

13. I hope all of you can learn from Ser Ming and other SgIS seniors, and be the shining example for your juniors in future. I believe you can do so, as all of you here possess a diverse set of skills and competencies which will value-add to your SOs in the future. It is my wish that you will seize opportunities that come your way, and constantly seek ways to further develop yourselves, and also help those around you to grow. We hope you will continue to be a source of inspiration to your peers and future SgIS recipients. We are confident that you will be able to lead our organisations to even greater heights, drive Singapore forward, and make Singapore the best home for everyone. I wish all of you the very best. Thank you.

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