SPEECH BY DATO JUDE PHILOMEN BENNY
MANAGING PARTNER
JOSEPH TAN JUDE BENNY LLP
AT THE SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC CONVENTION CENTRE
TUESDAY, 24 MAY 2011 (Session 5)



Mr Tan Hang Cheong,

Principal,
Singapore Polytechnic

Distinguished Guests,

Parents and Graduands,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Afternoon.

    I

    t is indeed an honour to be here to address you on your graduation day. About 400 of you from the Singapore Maritime Academy will be receiving your diplomas, namely the Diplomas in Marine Engineering, Diploma Maritime Business, Diploma Nautical Studies and the Specialist Diploma in Shipping Operations and Management; and another 35 from the School of Mathematics and Science will be receiving the Certificates in Mathematics for Engineering, and Specialist Diploma in Statistics and Data Mining. My heartiest congratulations to all of you.

  1. Having the opportunity to serve in the Maritime Industry Advisory Committee in SMA gives me the privilege to have a better understanding of the structure of the diploma programmes offered at the Singapore Polytechnic. I am aware of the industry relevance and the rigour of the diploma programmes at SMA. I believe the programmes offered by the School of Mathematics and Science at the Singapore Polytechnic are also well-designed and challenging. Your achievement today is a testament of your hard work and perseverance. You have all done well!  The encouragements from your loved ones and the guidance from your lecturers must have also made the difference. Let’s give your families and your lecturers a round of applause in appreciation of their support Thank you – and welcome to our world – it’s your world now.

Singapore Maritime Academy Students’ Performance

  1. For the SMA graduands, I am particularly pleased to note that your cohort have done SMA proud by raising the SMA overall percentage in the graduating cohort’s pass rate and cumulative GPA. Your juniors will now have higher targets to meet to surpass your performance. SMA has dedicated itself to provide the best in maritime education and training. Achieving better academic performance is a healthy trend for SMA and the Singapore Polytechnic as a whole as this would translate to better opportunities in jobs and further education for its graduates.

  2. About 40% of each Secondary 4 cohort would enrol in polytechnics every year. Many of the courses at the Singapore Polytechnic have attracted students from the top tier of this 40%. SMA’s outreach programmes and those in collaboration with the maritime stakeholders, namely MPA (Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore), SMF (Singapore Maritime Foundation), ASMI (Association of Singapore Marine Industries), SSA (Singapore Shipping Association), SNI (Singapore Nautical Institute), and SMOU (Singapore Maritime Officers' Union) to promote the maritime courses and careers have paid off. More students from the secondary schools are opting for maritime courses. For the past few years, I have noted that the SMA diploma courses have been oversubscribed. In the recent 2011 Joint-Admission Exercise (JAE), out of every one place at SMA, almost 2 students applied for it as their first choice diploma course – the best JAE results thus far. The quality of the full-time students, based on the GCE O’ Level results or cut-off points for the SMA diploma courses, has also improved. These are healthy trends for the academy and the polytechnic. It is also a necessary development as Singapore needs a critical mass of capable and talented professionals, the maritime industry included.

The Evolving Maritime Landscape in Singapore

  1. Singapore’s maritime industry is energetic and exciting. It offers a myriad of rewarding careers both shore-based and ship-based ones in an ever-evolving global industry.  Last year, Singapore was named the ‘Best Seaport in Asia’ for the 22nd time, and it also bagged the ‘Best Green Service Provider – Seaport’ award for the first time. To stay ahead, a new Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) is being set up with a $200 million funding injection to invest in education and training, and cutting-edge R&Ds to grow and sustain a pool of maritime talent in Singapore.  SMA, along with NUS and NTU, was invited to participate in the new SMI’s initiatives to further enhance Singapore’s position as an International Maritime Centre whereby the maritime industry is already contributing 7% to our Gross Domestic Product.

  2. To place these points in perspective, it should be remembered that 90 % of world trade is sea-borne. The maritime world is central, and at the very core of human existence. It facilitates international trade, the export and import of products that enhance and enrich our lives, and allows the exploitation and redistribution of the world’s natural resources. So, if there is one industry where the sun never sets, it is the maritime industry.

  3. Currently, we are in the midst of witnessing a seismic shift in the center of gravity of world shipping, from the West to the East. 50% of the world’s tonnage is owned and operated in Asia. This is a staggering quantum. 8 out of 10 of the busiest container ports in the world, are in Asia. Korea, Japan and China build almost 90% of the world’s new vessels, and Singapore builds 80% of the world’s Jack-Up Rigs for oil exploration. There is no doubt about it, Asia is where the maritime action is, and you are right in the middle of it, here in Singapore.

  4. There are approximately 60,000 maritime related companies in Singapore, ranging from shipyards, to shipowners, to brokers, to parts suppliers and manufacturers, shipping banks, maritime lawyers, naval architects, ship managers, and the list goes on and on. Singapore is truly a world class maritime hub, where all the leading maritime players have seen it fit to make their presence felt. This has created a maritime melting pot, where demand for, and supply of, maritime services and products comes together in an efficient and trusted environment.

  5. It is this booming environment and eco-system that you are about to set sail into. It is a sea of opportunities, and I would urge you to find your place in this vast ocean of career options. The maritime world is no longer just about sailing on ships, and greasy hands. It offers challenging jobs in the areas of finance, the law, engineering, banking, chartering, ship management and many more. With many multi-national players in the market, you will find your work challenging and rewarding.

  6. I urge all of you to dive headlong into the maritime world, and enjoy every moment of it, in the same I have, these last 28 years.
    Once again, congratulations to all the graduands. I wish you great success in all that you do.