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Mr Tan Hang Cheong
Principal, Singapore Polytechnic
Distinguished Guests,
Parents and Graduands,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening.

Today I am very happy to join you on the 52nd Graduation Ceremony of Singapore Polytechnic. My heartiest congratulations go to each and every graduand on your successful completion of your Diploma course.

I would also like you to join me in thanking your parents, family members and teachers for their patience and support without which, today’s celebration may not have been possible.

For me, this is also something of a home coming as I was Chairman of the School’s Advisory Committee some time in the past.

This year is special for you the graduands of the School of Digital Media and Infocomm Technology (DMIT) as you are all graduating in a single session this evening for the first time. This reflects the popularity of DMIT Course.

I am indeed proud of the School of Digital Media and InfocommTechnology. It has always been a leader in the recognition of trends in the area of Information Technology. The School has seen the rise in Cyber threats and attacks and understood how these can bring down an economy. This led to the event last November where, as the Chairman of e-Cop Pte Ltd, I have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Principal Tan Hang Cheong to establish the region's first Cyberwatch Competency Centre in SP. Leveraging on e-Cop’s expertise in information security management, the Cyberwatch Competency Centre will be part of the new learning space known as the Cyber Wargame Center which will have dedicated facilities to train our students in offensive attacks, defensive methods and investigative skills. 
Not only that, staff and students from the Diploma in Infocomm Security Management will also have the opportunities to work with e-Cop on real-world projects, giving them market-relevant experience which will help groom SP students to be cyber security innovators and thought leaders for Singapore and the region.

Since I left the Governing Council of Singapore Polytechnic a decade ago, I have had the occasion to revisit the Campus a number of times and I am amazed at the transformation of the Campus. Every semester a new facility or learning space would sprout up from somewhere. It has made SP a truly vibrant campus, as more students are now staying back late to study or do their projects.

But just having a good physical environment will not produce a cohort of successful graduates. I am pleased to learn that SP has also put in place the software, which is a holistic framework that aims to offer the best education to her students. On top of a rigorous curriculum which trains one to be a master in the specialized trade, students are exposed to overseas study trips, immersion programmes and exciting master classes which broaden their horizon. They are also empowered to take up leadership roles as course councilors, student ambassadors, or key positions in the various committees like the graduation show. A team of dedicated lecturers relentlessly give off themselves to mentor and nurture the young minds of SP students. Overall, students have been put through a transforming experience to stretch their capabilities and realize their full potential.

As a result, we have graduates who have secured a place in prestigious universities local or overseas, such as the newly established Singapore University of Technology and Design(SUTD) and the Savannah College of Art and Design(SCAD), a specialist college known for its programme in creative careers. Some graduates have also earned themselves a scholarship in these universities.

I am especially heartened to hear of the many notable achievements from this cohort of graduands.

For example, Diploma in Information Technology student Lim Cheng Lei was the first student among the polys and universities to be appointed as Microsoft Student Partners Singapore Lead. In this capacity, he will manage all the campus leads from the 5 polytechnics and 3 universities in Microsoft initiatives and will be responsible for the welfare and the administration of the entire Microsoft Student Community.   

Another example is the “Now You Can Leadership Series”, a collaboration between GRID MMS and StarHub. This is a platform for young Singaporeans to bring to national attention their world changing project ideas.  A group of DMIT students called “FriVolFriends” has won the 1st and 2nd Prizes in the “Technology for Good” Category. The winning project concept is a mobile application for welfare groups to activate volunteers within a specific distance.

Yet another award, the SLA Spatial Challenge is an initiative of the Singapore Land Authority aimed at encouraging the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology in Schools. SP students have again won the First Prize, Best Presentation Award and Most Like Award in the Tertiary Category. The winning project “Silver Radar” by a group of Diploma in Information Technology students has also won the SiTF Award in the Tertiary Category.

Works by Diploma in Digital Media, 3D Animation option students have also won accolades locally and from abroad.   The first prize in Autodesk Mudbox Challenge organised by Autodesk and HK Cyberport held in Hong Kong was won by this year’s graduate Chad Ko, who created an original character from scratch using Autodesk Mudbox software in 3 hours.

SP students have also consistently attained the top prizes in the Crowbar Awards. This is an International Creative Communication and Design competition.   The film “Flying Colours” was the only local entry in the top 3 placing, winning Bronze for Best Art Direction and Best 3D Animation. The film has also won the Best Sound track in the Soundtrack/ Music category.  “Flying Colours” was also shortlisted as one of the finalists for ANIWOW, an International Animation Student Festival.  It has been screened in Beijing in Oct last year.

The work of our graduates is of such high quality, they have won many accolades. Pang Kai Lun, Bobby Tan and Nadya – this year’s graduates of the Diploma in Digital Media Animation option, have created a virtual fly-through of the new SIT building that will be erected on SP’s campus.
Let me give you one more example how well Singapore Polytechnic graduates have done. Alvin Lee, who graduated in 2011 from the Diploma in Digital Media Computer Graphics option, has scripted and art-directed a short film called “Timeline”. This film was chosen as the Official International Selection in the fourteenth edition of the Very Short International Film Festival (VSIFF). It was picked from over 1,500 films from across the world.  His is the only Singaporean entrant shortlisted in the international category. His film will be screened in 80 cities and 15 countries, along with 46 other finalists from Europe, US, Japan and South Korea.

Our graduates are not only great at winning trophies and medals. They are also big at heart. I am heartened to learn that 22 of you from the Diploma in Digital Media course accompanied by 2 staff members, have undertaken a community service project in Vietnam codenamed MELT, which stands for Moments That Last a Life Time.  As the saying goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” By teaching Vietnamese students basic photography and image editing techniques, our students have given them a better means to earn a living as photographers or editors.

I would also like to congratulate Goh Si Kai, the course medalist of the Diploma in Music and Audio Technology, for being conferred the institution’s highest award, the Lee Kuan Yew Award. He is also the President of the SP Jazz Band and aspires to be a prominent Jazz musician.

What then, is your aspiration? You are holding in your hands a Diploma from the Singapore Polytechnic, a qualification highly regarded by the industry. But you will have noticed that there are many in the various Institutes of Higher Learning who will also be graduating this year. Many will be competing with you for the best jobs. However, unlike Europe and other parts of the world, we are blessed in Singapore as we still have an expanding economy with net job creation. In Spain, over 50% of fresh graduates are unemployed. It is worse in Greece and even Japan has its unemployment problem amongst its youth.  In spite of the continuing problems in many countries, 2012 could still be a good year for digital media and IT professionals provided that Europe holds together. The growth of the global infocomm sector has been strong and positive. According to Gartner’s report, worldwide IT spending is forecast to total $3.8 trillion in 2012, a 3.7 percent increase from 2011.
Recruitment agency Hudson which released their report on hiring and job market expectations in Singapore for 1st Quarter 2012, has recorded a positive hiring expectations in the IT sector.  Most of the major IT employers are multinational corporations, which are increasing their recruitment activity in Q2. Expectations are also rising in the Media sector, where 50% say they will grow headcount, up from 43% in the previous quarter. This shows that companies are still expanding into Singapore.

But to really succeed in life, you need integrity, empathy, a sense of service and a strategy. To help you think about this, two mottos come to mind.

  1. Who Dares Wins – The motto of the Special Air Services(SAS)

The SAS is an elite commando unit started in World War 2 to operate behind enemy lines in the deserts of Africa. They achieved great recognition by their enemies for their daring raids and successes in disrupting enemy lines of supplies and communications.
Their daring raids took the enemy by surprise.
In business today, you often need to take the competition by surprise to succeed. This is so because in our transparent and competitive world many of our strategies and products are easily copied and duplicated and often at a lower cost than to develop the product. So be daring in your strategy and explore greenfields.

  1. Fortune Favours the Brave. The motto in the hand book of the Roman Legions.

The concept is that in battle if you turn your back to run you will be cut down. Thus if you move forward bravely, you will have a better chance to survive.
If you look into the lives of successful men and women you will see that they took the difficult path, trusted their instincts and stuck bravely to their guns in spite of the objections and obstacles that they faced. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, many of our young men and women in Singapore who have succeeded against the odds and, of course, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. They were brave and fortune favoured them. I want to talk a bit about Mother Teresa. She was a little lady from Macedonia who overcame the obstacles of culture, poverty, the establishment of a religious order, the prejudices of a foreign land and different religious believes to fulfill her passion to bring help and relieve to those rejected by their families and society in India. But she did not do it for money or fame for as you may know, Catholic nuns don’t receive a salary. She did it because she believed in the goodness of her mission.

Her passion gave her the courage of her conviction and how she was able to achieve her goals with dignity, truth and love can be an inspiration for everyone.
Mother Teresa’s work is inspirational and I selected it because I want to introduce to you the concept of Social Enterprises. Social Enterprises are companies with a strong social mission. They seek to do good whilst doing well. In fact, it is proven that companies with a strong social mission often do better than those without one. This is because employees identify well with altruistic organizations. Social Enterprises also help society be it in the employment of the under privileged or the protection of the environment.
In Singapore, Social Enterprises can be considered greenfield. The government and some major organizations are supporting these initiatives with grants and financing as it is a good model that benefits society. What is lacking are concerned youth who see this field as a niche and have the courage to venture forward, step up and take the challenge to establish such enterprises.

However there are some that come to mind like Dignity Kitchen. Its founder Mr. Koh Seng Choon gave up his career to start a food court to provide employment to physically and mentally challenged Singaporeans.

Mr. Benny Se Teo started 18 Chefs to provide employment to ex-offenders. Others like Dialog in the Dark have focused on the blind. Some are concerned with youth at risk and others, to provide jobs for single mothers. It may not make the most money but it provides one with the satisfaction of preserving the environment or helping the disadvantaged and less fortunate. Some of you, as I have already highlighted, have been involved in some programmes like project MELT in Vietnam. Others in “Now you can”. So be brave and do good, well.

I encourage you to be active citizens and in your youth be sufficiently concerned to make a difference. For if not when you are young then when?
To stand out above the crowd you need a personal strategy to take the less beaten track and to be brave and daring. And you are all now equipped to go out and make a difference. Who Dares Wins! All the very best to you.

Thank you.