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Mr Tan Hang Cheong
Principal, Singapore Polytechnic

Distinguished Guests

Parents and Graduands

Staff of Singapore Polytechnic

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Good afternoon.  It gives me great pleasure to be here today at the 52nd Singapore Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony.  My name is Tit Meng. My father told me that when I was a new born he saw my face and thought I had a bright look hence he named me ‘Meng’ (which means clever in my Teochew dialect). But he also thought I might become a bad buy due to cleverness so he named me ‘Tit’, which means straight and upright.
  2. All parents naturally wish the best for their children.  All you graduands should really thank your parents for nurturing you all these years.  I am also sure that all the parents seated here are feeling very proud of your son or daughter graduating from SP. 
  3. I applaud all graduands and award winners from the School of Chemical & Life Sciences (CLS), School of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering (MAE) and SP Business School (SB) on your achievements.  After three rich years in SP, I am sure you should feel more confident and assured compared to when you first enrolled as a fresh SP student.
  4. You have crossed a significant milestone in your life and you should now spend some time to do some self-reflection at the end of this very important journey having completed your polytechnic studies.  “What have I learned in my past three years at SP?  Have I done well?  Where and how can I improve myself further?  Have my three years been used wisely?”
  5. I am pretty sure that after this reflection, you will inevitably ask the question, “What next?”  For the guys, perhaps your national service (NS) will provide two more years to think of an answer.  For the ladies and foreign students, you probably find it more pressing to answer that question.  I have these words to advise you – “Go after your own heart, know your passion and follow it”.
  6. To some of you, your diploma is really your passion.  In this case, you should feel good to continue in your line, whether in further studies or in the working world.  For the others vague about your passion, fret not.  Search through your childhood memories for that ideal job.  Or take a serious look at your interest and hobbies – can you turn them into a career?
  7. While you are busy contemplating over your future, do not forget to look at the lecturers, friends and classmates around you.  They can be a role model to you, or a source of inspiration and encouragement as you step into an uncertain future.
  8. Among the many graduands, I notice this student from Diploma in Biomedical Science (DBS) – Miss Koh Shi Min.  She did not just get one, two or even three awards in her course.  She managed to clinch a total of four accolades, including the Lee Kuan Yew Institutional Award, the Alfred Robert Edis Prize, the Biomed Diagnostic Gold Medal and Health Sciences Authority Award for being an outstanding student.  And I was being told that she has just been offered a place in NUS to study medicine!  Shi Min is a prime example of a young woman who truly strived not just in her studies but also in her dedication to voluntary community service.  And on top of these, she has to work part-time to support herself.  If I am wearing a hat, I would take it off for you.  I will just simply salute you!  Well done indeed!
  9. I urge all of you to be inspired by her to live life to the fullest.  Regardless of your successes and failures in the past three years, you may want to make a promise to yourself today to treasure your time and lead a worthy life.  
  10. I also wish to offer all of you this saying, “The world is too big a place to ignore.”  As society becomes more globalised, you too should connect yourself to the world beyond your borders.  You can learn much from an overseas exposure, be it working or studying.
  11. In fact, I am pleased to hear that many of you had already started having very good overseas exposure during your stay in Singapore Polytechnic, going to a diverse pool of countries from USA to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China and Hong Kong.  Long ago during my studies, such highly subsidized overseas trips are extremely rare.  You are indeed fortunate to be here at the right time.
  12. Of course, an overseas experience does not have to be restricted to an academic setting.  I found out that many of you have performed overseas community service for the needy in developing countries.  I commend you for your courage and enthusiasm.
  13. In particular, it is indeed heartening to know that Diploma in Optometry (DOPT) students have brought some 1,000 pairs of used glasses for distribution to children of elementary schools in Batam as part of their vision screening project.  To us, these are old and unwanted glasses but to the children, they are a godsend, especially since they have little access to eye care services there.
  14. One of your peers, Benjamin Chua of DOPT, clinched the inaugural Essilor/SOA (Singapore Optometry Association) Singapore Optometry Excellence Award 2012 not just for his excellent academic performance but also for his exemplary character and leadership qualities.  These were particularly proven during his overseas community service project with his DOPT classmates in Sri Lanka to provide eye care services to the poor.
  15. Equally laudable is the group of DBS students calling themselves the “HOPE Team”, refurbishing a kindergarten in China and imparting IT skills to the teachers there.   
  16. These acts of community service will over time spread the good name of SP and Singapore to the world, making us great even for a small nation like ours. And do remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
  17. Such projects are beneficial not only to the local communities there but also to you. You begin to see the world in a different light as you soak up the social, economic, cultural and historical aspects of your host countries.  This is so much more than just an academic endeavour.  This is truly a Holistic Education which you have gotten from SP.
  18. While you should be proud of your graduation from SP, do not forget about paying your dues to society.  The Chinese have a proverb, “When drinking water, think of its source.”  I am convinced that on top of your family and friends, service to the community should be a priority for everyone.  Given your skills and ability, you can certainly do a lot.
  19. One of several good examples is the free health screening by CLS students as part of the Health Mapping Exercise in collaboration with the Singapore Heart Foundation.  I hope all these activities can continue or even expand in the wake of Singapore’s ageing population and continual presence of a group of needy citizens. 
  20. For the Bioengineering Diploma students from the School of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering - a unique group who has the knowledge of engineering and life sciences and applying them to solve problems in life sciences and medicine – many of you have put your skills and knowledge into good use by designing and developing devices for the aged and physically challenged members of the society during your course of study.  Indeed, you have been inculcated with the good value of serving the community.  After your graduation, I hope you will spare some time to continue with the good work of helping the less fortunate of the society.
  21. And to the Diploma in Financial Informatics (DFI) students from Business School, the glowing reports received from your internship supervisors and companies indicate to us that you are a special lot.  Indeed, a unique combination of Infocomm Technology (ICT), business and finance training mean that you are versatile, ready and well suited to take on challenges in the business and financial sector.  Focus on your strength and learn to use your training to your advantage.
  22. For the Diploma in Human Resource Management with Psychology (DHRMP) students, you can look forward to an exciting future as you take on the important role of helping organizations to manage their most important asset – human resources; and to help build strong and cohesive relationships with people of all levels.  Make good use of your HR and Psychology skills to improve personal relationships, people management and overall organizational performance, wherever you may be.
  23. I like to end by sharing one lesson I have learned in life: ‘Let honour chase after you, and not the other way around’.  If you chase after honour and do not get it, you may become unhappy in life.  I always believe that honour comes as a natural by-product of good work.  I encourage you to go after your own heart, do your best with passion and conviction, and let honour chase after you!
  24. Once again, I extend my heartiest congratulations on the successful completion of your studies at Singapore Polytechnic and wish each of you success in your career and further studies.  As indicated in SP’s logo carrying the motto (To Serve with Skills) - Go serve with the skills you have acquired.
  25. Thank you.