Opening Address by Mr Lee Tzu Yang at the 2023 PSC Scholarships Award Ceremony
OPENING ADDRESS BY MR LEE TZU YANG CHAIRMAN OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION AT THE 2023 PSC SCHOLARSHIPS AWARD CEREMONY ON 19 JULY 2023
Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service
Mr Leo Yip, Head, Civil Service
Fellow Commission Members
Families, Friends, and Scholarship Recipients,
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good afternoon and a warm welcome to all.
2. Every year, my Commission members and I look forward to the scholarship season. We are delighted to play our part and take our role seriously. We look hard and wide to select promising young individuals who are prepared to serve in the Public Service, and who wish to grow to become custodians of Singapore’s future. This work requires the collective effort of the Commission as well as our community.
3. Our partners, many of whom are here today, encourage and identify prospective applicants with the right fit to serve. Together, we bring some of our finest in Singapore to contribute to the Public Service. Our schools and universities do not just provide information that helps in selection; they have also nurtured and developed the candidates we meet. I would like to thank our key partners in education for their dedication to developing talent.
4. Families and communities, too, play very important roles. They support their individual members in their aspirations to take on differing pursuits. To the parents and loved ones of our scholarship recipients, thank you for supporting them and giving them the love and confidence to step forward in this pursuit to serve the nation.
5. The joint effort of many groups brings about the promise we see in each scholarship recipient today. That is why, I wish to congratulate both our 66 recipients and everyone who has played a part in building their potential for the future. To our recipients, we say this, and it can never be said too often – every one of you is here not just because of your own efforts but because of the support from those around you. You can be proud to be awarded the scholarship today, but it is not a prize. The scholarship offers you the opportunity to further develop your potential to serve others, and those who have helped you along your way.
6. We are encouraged by the diversity of this year’s cohort. The 66 of you came from 19 different pre-university institutions, the highest number to date. The nine mid-term award recipients will take up PSC scholarships in medicine, public administration, sustainability, and engineering. In total, all of you will also be reading courses in 25 different universities, both locally and globally. We will continue to build on these. Today, mid-term scholarships are not offered for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) scholarships. PSC is working with the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on the possibility of extending the mid-term option to give outstanding candidates, who may decide on an SAF or SPF career during university, the opportunity to apply. You, too, can help us by encouraging your peers, who have the capacity and heart for public service, to apply for mid-term scholarships. Let them know that they are eligible, even if they have begun their degree and whether they are in Singapore or overseas.
7. Last year, the PSC introduced the sustainability scholarship. I am happy that we have three recipients for the scholarship – two mid-term awards and one master’s award. Ernest, Li Zhe and Freda, as the pioneer batch, you play an important role in shaping this opportunity and setting the direction for future batches of recipients. We look forward to your progress as you contribute to Singapore’s sustainability.
8. Earlier this year, I spoke to your seniors on their reflections of what the scholarship means to them. Let me share some of their points with you.
9. First, today you commit to be the best possible version of yourself. You have accepted responsibility to take on developmental opportunities that prepare you to contribute to others. Be trailblazers!
10. Your seniors have heeded the call. In this last academic year, they explored opportunities in 16 countries outside Singapore, including Antarctica, Belgium, Israel, Norway, and South Korea. Seven in 10 of those reading a master’s degree are doing so in a country different to their undergraduate studies. One is pursuing a dual degree with Sciences Po in France and Fudan University in China. Another a master’s across three countries – Austria, Greece, and Sweden. Three of your seniors are in the Yenching Academy of Peking University. Two are undertaking work stints in Kenya and Thailand through our Gap Year programme. Through these stints, they connect with other talented young people globally and forge connections that will benefit Singapore.
11. Second, today you commit to make Singapore and our society better. Beyond your familiar social circles, meet and learn from new communities. Gain insights on their institutions, beliefs and values. Empathise with how they interact with and want to help shape Singapore and the world. It is a humbling experience to realise that there are many ways to view the world; even in Singapore. The Youth Corps Singapore Leaders’ Programme provides you with the tools to interact with different communities. This will help you become a better public officer – one who closely understands those you serve.
12. Finally, today you commit to bring the Public Service, and Singapore, to greater heights. Never underestimate what you can achieve. When you start at university or work, it is easy to feel powerless. However, the path of least resistance leads to lesser results. Find the levers that will set positive changes in yourself. When you meet obstacles, as you will, keep your sights on the value to be gained. Even amidst failure, do not lose heart, and find ways to keep moving forward.
13. Your journey of self-discovery will be exciting, but daunting too. There are new challenges to discover and overcome. Your cohort mates, with whom you have forged ties, are there for you. Do the same for them.
14. Each of you was selected because you have the potential to do all that I have spoken about. You are entrusted with the responsibility to grow into leaders who serve others. It is with this mindset and attitude that you will enter the Public Service and bring the nation forward.
15. To end off, I ask that you remember the meaning of public service – to serve Singapore and Singaporeans. You already have many commitments – to family, friends, loved ones, schools, community. But the biggest commitment that you make today is to yourself; because the person whom you aspire to become tomorrow must deliver the promises made by your younger self today.
16. I wish you all the best for the journeys that lie ahead. Thank you very much.