Speech by Mr Tan Choon Shian


Mr Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development
and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Your Excellencies

Members of the Singapore Polytechnic Board of Governors

Distinguished Guests



Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. Good morning.  Welcome to our 53rd Graduation Ceremony.  We are honoured that Mr Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister of Social and Family Development and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, is here with us to celebrate this important and joyous event.

  2. As Singapore’s first polytechnic set up in 1954, Singapore Polytechnic began humbly and graduated its first batch of 192 students in 1961.  This year 5,898 graduands will join our 170,000-strong Singapore Polytechnic alumni family.  At this session, 340 graduands will receive their diplomas.

  3. Graduands, you are here today because of your hard work, the support of your family and the guidance of your lecturers.  On behalf of my colleagues, I extend our heartiest congratulations to you and your loved ones.

Graduands of New Diploma Courses

  1. The graduands this year include the first batches of 232 students from five new Diploma courses.  These courses are the Diploma in International Business, Materials Science, Perfumery and Cosmetic Science, Digital Animation, and Visual Effects & Motion Graphics. Exciting and meaningful careers await you.

Choice, Journey and Experience

Authentic Learning Experience

  1. Three years ago, you made a choice to study a diploma course at SP. We trust that you had an enriching and memorable journey with us.  Now, you face another choice, whether to join the workforce or to further your studies.  Recently the newspapers highlighted two SP graduates who chose to work first.  One is SP’s Media and Communication graduate, Adelene Chiang who worked at SP as a media specialist right after her graduation and now co-owns a media production company.  Another is Tan Junhong who graduates this year as the top graduand of the Aeronautical Engineering course.  He plans to first work in the aerospace industry, instead of immediately pursuing a degree.  While conventional wisdom suggests pursuing a degree right away, it is also wise to work for a few years, and gain more life experiences to be clearer about what you want before deciding. 

  2. SP’s holistic education gave you an authentic learning experience.  This means your learning was hands-on, and focused on solving of real-world problems.  You took part in immersion programmes, internships and final year projects that have real life applications.  This prepared you to be work ready.  

  3. For instance, Our Banking and Financial Services students gain hands-on experience in a Dealing Room on the hill in our own campus, which comes complete with a real-time information system and communications network.

  4. International Business students went on overseas internships and learning experiences which exposed them to foreign business cultures and working life in countries like Vietnam, China, Abu Dhabi and the USA. One resourceful student, Sylvia Chua Jun Hui, sourced for her own internship in El Salvador.

  5. Another example of authentic learning right here on campus is The Student Agency, an advertising and branding agency that serves as a living lab by students and for students in the SP Design School.  Our students mapped out the creative strategy for our own Open House.  Students from the Integrated Events and Project Management course from the School of Architecture and the Built Environment conceptualised, planned and executed the event management of the Open House.  Incidentally, the Student Agency also conceptualised the creative design for this Graduation.  I am sure you would agree with me that they did a great job!

Imbuing Compassion

  1. We are proud and pleased that many of you, despite your rigorous academic workload, did not confine yourselves to books, but served the community with compassion and took part in local and overseas projects that rebuilt communities or assisted the less fortunate.  In helping others, you transformed yourselves.

  2. One of your fellow graduands, Teo Kae Lin from the Diploma in Banking and Financial Services, reported about her team’s community service project in Sichuan, China last year.  Her team worked hard, cried, laughed, and had sleepless nights but the appreciative smiles on the faces of their beneficiaries made it all worthwhile.    Kae Lin had this to say:  “My greatest take away from this service trip is to be contented, appreciative and grateful for what we have.  It has transformed me to be a better person. From a person who was rather indifferent towards the community service programme, this trip has inspired me to contribute as much as I can to the community and less fortunate.” 

  3. Another graduand, Matthew Ong Ding Qiang, in summing up his overseas community project to Laos said: “The trip to Laos Na-ang village has provided a different perspective and new experience for me.  I had to work with different people and in a new environment.  Often times we didn’t know what to expect and had to think on our feet and solve it immediately.  Through this trip, I got to know myself better too.”  Through the trip, Matthew discovered new capabilities in himself.  He was able to interact with the locals, to teach the children, and even to farm.  By the end of trip he learnt and I quote, that: ‘When we put our heart into doing something, we will enjoy it and be able to do it.”  Matthew graduates this morning as the top student of the Diploma course in International Business.  To him: ‘the experience was priceless’.

  4. These are the sentiments shared by many of our students who contributed in community service projects.  I am heartened that we are moulding a future generation of compassionate and caring citizens.

Leadership and Achievements

  1. Many of you served and lead in SP, as class leader or in your CCA.  To further hone our students’ leadership potential, SP launched a leadership programme two years ago called SP LEAP to give students broader and deeper leadership training. We are pleased to report that to-date, 1,500 students have benefited from the programme.  Some students even chose to go one more step, to make a difference to themselves and their communities through the pursuit of the National Youth Achievement Award or NYAA for short.  We are proud that last year, our SP students received 40 NYAA Gold Awards out of the total of 150 awards, the most among the polytechnics.

  2. An example of a holistic graduate, an all rounder, is Leong Hei Kern, one of our top award winners.  He was part of the team who organised the Youth Model ASEAN Conference, which was an inter-polytechnic initiative. He won, twice,  design competitions of the Singapore University for Technology and Design (SUTD) in 2010 and 2011. He organised twice-weekly peer tutoring sessions for his fellow students.  He was active in social entrepreneurship and was the vice-president for the ENACTUS club, which was previously known as SIFE or Students in Free Enterprise.   He also did very well academically.

  3. We are happy and proud that many, many of you have become holistic graduates like Hei Kern, who participated and did well in many opportunities in your journey of holistic education in SP.

Campus Development

  1. You saw the SP campus being transformed in the last 3 years. We added new learning and social spaces such as the Spectrum, Colours, Hilltop library as well as outdoor living labs like the Sanctuary and the ECOasis.  There is ongoing construction – for the new Business School and AeroHub, the new Design School Building and the Student/Sports Hub.  These new projects will be completed in 2014 and benefit future cohorts.  We welcome you to visit us again as alumni to view the new additions. Join us at our celebrations next year when SP turns 60.


  1. We recently received a note from the appreciative parents of a graduand. The parents thanked SP for making possible their son’s success.  Their son is a medallist from the School of Chemical and Life Sciences.  As the parents so aptly put it, it is the partnership between SP and parents in nurture and motivation that has made this possible.  We rejoice with them as we do with all parents and guardians today; we thank you for the opportunity to open the minds and shape the lives of your children. 

  2. Graduands, today is a time for joy as you celebrate your achievements.  Tomorrow, you will embark on the next lap of your life’s journey.  There are uncertainties and challenges ahead,  but you are well-equipped to face these realities, to make the right choices and to make a difference to society. 

  3. We will miss you but we know you will keep in touch through the SP Alumni Network.

  4. My colleagues and I wish all of you a bright future.  Congratulations! Thank you.
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