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Principal's Message

My heartiest congratulations to the Class of 2014! I hope your journey in Singapore Polytechnic (SP) has been one that is filled with many memorable moments that will linger fondly in your minds for a long time.[ Read More ]

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Speech by Mr Andrew Tan


Mr Tan Choon Shian, Principal and CEO, Singapore Polytechnic

Graduands and Parents,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Evening.

  1. It is my pleasure to join you today at Singapore Polytechnic's 56th Graduation Ceremony. Congratulations to all the graduands from the Singapore Maritime Academy, or SMA, and the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. This ceremony is the culmination of your hard work throughout your three years in Singapore Polytechnic and a proud moment for you and your loved ones.

Significance of Maritime Industry to Singapore

  1. Today, more than 5,000 companies from key sectors such as port operations, shipping, maritime services as well as marine and offshore engineering make up the dynamic maritime ecosystem in Singapore. A 170,000-strong diverse workforce supports the wide-ranging technical and business-related functions in this industry. As a choice port of call and an international maritime centre, the maritime sector contributes about seven per cent to Singapore's GDP. In 2013, Singapore maritime industry's value-add was about $20 billion

  2. Last year, the Port of Singapore maintained its position as the top bunkering port in the world. It also achieved good growth in terms of annual vessel arrival tonnage, container and cargo throughput. The Singapore Registry of Ships also grew in size and is ranked the top ten registries in the world.

  3. These indicators are testament to the maritime success that Singapore has achieved. However, with the growth in international trade, the need to remain competitive in the global arena has become more compelling. This is especially so when other nations are hot on our heels to be maritime hubs. So how do we remain competitive? What's next for Maritime Singapore?

A Future-Ready Maritime Singapore

  1. Singapore has to now take on a strategic approach towards developing the sector which includes investments in new infrastructure, attracting more maritime companies and growing the pool of maritime manpower. Since 2007, MPA, through the Maritime Cluster Fund and Maritime Innovation and Technology Fund, has set aside about $200 million to develop maritime capability and R&D in this sector. More recently, in 2010, MPA committed an additional $200 million to establish the Singapore Maritime Institute to adopt and drive a holistic approach towards maritime education and R&D.

Continued Investments in Port Infrastructure and Technologies

  1. You would already know that our port expansion plans at Tuas are well underway. The new port in Tuas aims to be bigger, more efficient and better-equipped to be future-ready to handle the growing port activities. As part of exploring new technologies, systems and processes in container terminal operations, MPA recently extended our MOU with PSA Corporation Limited under the Port Technology Research and Development Programme for another five years. Now, both parties can collaborate further on key areas of port automation, planning and control systems as well as in green port solutions.

  2. As technologies and operations at the port and onboard ships modernise and evolve, we see increasingly more sophisticated equipment, electrical systems, communication systems and computer software being adopted. In line with these developments, there is greater demand for engineers, not just for marine engineering, but also from various disciplines such as information-communication engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering to support the maritime industry.

Growing the Singapore Maritime Cluster

  1. Another key strategy would be to continue providing a pro-business environment for incumbent and prospective companies looking to leverage on business opportunities in the East. To do this, MPA regularly consults and engages key stakeholders and industry associations to identify and address gaps faced by Singapore-based maritime companies in Singapore. We hope that with more companies setting up and growing their businesses in Singapore, fellow Singaporeans will have access to more employment opportunities, both in seafaring as well as shore-based jobs.

Strengthening our Manpower Development Efforts

  1. It is not only important to create employment opportunities, but also to attract and train locals so that they are well-equipped to take on such opportunities and have successful careers in the maritime sector. It is in this vein that MPA, together with key partners such as the industry and schools, are intensifying our efforts to grow and develop maritime manpower.

  2. Beyond that, MPA also reaches out to the youths and general public through various community engagement activities. A good example would be the recently-launched Singapore Maritime Trails, which aims to promote greater public interest in our maritime heritage. The Maritime Outreach Network, commonly referred to as MaritimeONE, is another example of key stakeholders such as MPA and partners reaching out to students on the wide-ranging possibilities for education and career paths in the maritime sector.

  3. Moving forward, MPA will continue to strengthen our manpower development efforts. One such example is MPA's support towards the Careers@Maritime Programme launched by Mendaki Sense earlier this year. Under this programme, MPA and the maritime industry can tap on such established community platforms to reach out to a wider pool of locals who are keen to join the maritime sector. The career guidance and job matching support provided under the programme can help to train our people with the right skills before being deployed to a suitable job of his or her interest. MPA has plans to explore how we could similarly work with other Self-help Groups such as CDAC and SINDA.

Diverse Maritime Opportunities

  1. Some of you might be in the midst of looking for a job. Others might have decided to pursue higher education. Whichever path you have decided to take, let me assure you that your maritime journey would be an interesting one filled with diverse opportunities. Let me cite you several examples of individuals who have different academic interests, skill-sets and yet, plan to carve out a maritime career for themselves.

New Graduands

  1. One of your peers, Ms Chong Hui Ting, hails from a family of maritime professionals. Her father is a retired ship captain and her brother is currently working in the bunker trading business. Driven by her interest in the commercial aspect of the maritime industry, Hui Ting enrolled in the Diploma in Maritime Business programme. Today, Hui Ting graduates with a Merit and is also the recipient of the MPA Gold Medal. She is keen to pursue higher education in legal studies and would like to make a mark in the field of maritime law.

  2. Another example is Ms Ong Shi Ching who always had a strong interest in navigation and initially envisaged herself as a pilot. Fortunately (for us), the idea of a life at sea resonated stronger with her adventurous spirit. Today, Shi Ching graduates with a Diploma with Merit in Nautical Studies. She will start serving onboard Norwegian Getaway (a Norwegian Cruise Liner vessel) next month and plans to obtain her Certificates of Competency over the next five years. When Shi Ching is ready to transit to a shore-based job, she would like to pursue the Master of Science in Maritime Studies at the Nanyang Technological University. She believes that this would put her in good stead as a prospective shipbroker.

Graduates who have Risen Up Ranks

  1. One of your seniors, Mr Terence Ng Wee Siang, was awarded the Tripartite Maritime Scholarship Scheme in 2003. Upon completing the Diploma in Marine Engineering programme, he started sailing with his sponsor company, Pacific International Lines (Pte) Ltd. Terence has successfully obtained the Class 5 and Class 2 CoCs and is currently serving as a 2nd Engineer onboard. With additional sea-time, attainment of Class 1 CoC and continued good showing on the job, Terence stands a good chance to move up as Chief Engineer.

  2. In addition to the Tripartite Maritime Scholarship Scheme, there are also other initiatives that promote maritime careers. For instance, MPA sponsors the Global Internship Award which is a unique programme that allows selected undergraduates to intern with both local and overseas offices of international maritime companies. Just two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting some 20 recipients for the 2014 run.

  3. Beyond students, MPA also encourages maritime employees to keep upgrading their knowledge and widen their skills-sets through the Maritime Cluster Fund (MCF). Schemes under MCF include training grant support for relevant education and training courses. Maritime companies can also enjoy co-funding support when they send their high-potential local employees overseas for training or place them on management associate tracks. We hope this allows maritime employees to remain deployable across various maritime sectors.

Passion, Commitment, Resilience

  1. When I was asked to offer a personal note as part of my speech today, I reflected on what would be the qualities that I deem important in an employee, a colleague or a teammate. I narrowed it down to three, which I would like to share with you.

  2. The first quality would be passion. I am not referring to a calling for the maritime nor engineering fields. Rather, I am referring to the passion to learn. The maritime industry is an international one and there is much to learn. Some of you might even get the chance to work overseas. So do keep a global outlook and be open to new challenges.

  3. The second quality would be the commitment to task. If you are entrusted with certain responsibilities and duties, always give it your best shot. Yes, there might be times when you think you may not have sufficient knowledge or expertise to do so, but try your best anyway. Coupled with the passion to learn, chances are, you will do well!

  4. The third quality would be resilience. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things do not go well. Circumstances might not be in your favour or you might have made mistakes. If you are able to pick yourself up, learn a lesson or two and continue giving your best on the rest of your journey, then you are resilient. Part of our success as a maritime hub can be attributed to the resilience of the maritime community in Singapore which it has demonstrated time and again, despite the cyclical nature of the shipping industry.


  1. Graduands, there could not be a more interesting time for you to join our maritime family as Singapore positions itself to strengthen its competitive advantages and create new value propositions for the future. As you enter the next chapter of your lives, I hope you find within yourselves the passion, commitment and resilience that will lead you well through an exciting and meaningful maritime journey. On this note, I would like to once again congratulate all graduands and wish you great success in all that you undertake.

  2. Thank you and have a wonderful evening.

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