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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 Khoo Beng Keat


Principal & CEO, Singapore Polytechnic, Mr. Tan Choon Shian

Members of the Board of Governors,

Distinguished Guests,

Parents, Graduands,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.


  1. It is my pleasure to join you at this morning's Graduation Ceremony. This is a very special year as it marks the 60th Anniversary of the Singapore Polytechnic, celebrating the diamond jubilee of successful polytechnic education in Singapore. My congratulations to all graduates, as well as the lecturers and management of Singapore Polytechnic on this special occasion.

  2. And my congratulations also to all the parents, grandparents, family members and faculty that helped push you across the finishing line.

  3. Graduates, you've worked long and hard to arrive at this day. Today you have reached a major milestone in your lives. Your future is promising, with many opportunities and potential. Some of you are probably looking out for opportunities to start your career in your chosen field. Some may have already found jobs, while others are planning to further your studies. Whatever it is, I'd like to share with you a few points that you may find useful.

Facing the World

  1. After today, once the celebration and photo-taking are over, the feeling of euphoria will likely be replaced with some apprehension as you face the realities of the working world, family commitments and social expectations.

  2. Also, you will observe and encounter many challenges as the world around us grapples with so many challenges such as economic problems, rapid climatic changes and shortages in energy, food and water. Many economies, once powerful, are now completely in debt. People are living longer with smaller families. These drastic demographic changes force governments to adjust their budget policies to fund the retirement programs. So, how do individuals survive this fast challenging environment? For this, I want to share with you a word, "HOPE" which stands for :

H abits of innovation and creativity

O ptimism in the face of adversity

P ursue your dreams

E mbracing life-long learning and change

Allow me to take you through each of these, one at a time….

Habits of innovation and creativity

  1. First let us look at the creator of Apple - Steve Jobs- whose inventions, such as the iPhone, iPad and Apple computers have revolutionised the way we live. Yet, as a dropout of Stanford University, no one would have guessed he could become a recipe for success. With innovation and creativity, he has changed the way people think about technology!

  2. Locally, Sim Wong Hoo, in 1981, started Creative as a computer repair shop, where he developed and sold add-on memory boards for computers. Later, Creative began creating customised PCs adapted for the Chinese language that included enhanced audio capabilities, so that the device could produce speech and melodies. The success of this audio interface led to the development of the Sound Blaster cards that make Creative a world-wide brand name.

  3. Behind every success story is an inventive mind. We need people with passion, creativity and drive. We need the spirit of exploration and the thirst for knowledge.

Optimism in the face of adversity and disappointment

  1. Your life's journey will include some turbulent times. You will face difficult choices. You will be challenged and tested.

  2. At age 30, Steve Jobs was a success story. But he got fired from his own company, which was a devastating time of his life. It turned out that that was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. It freed him to enter one of the most creative periods of his life. In the face of such adversity, he started a company named NeXT and the technology they developed at NeXT became the heart of Apple's renaissance.

Pursue you dreams

  1. Graduates, I will also encourage you to dream, and to dream big. Singapore would never have had the Changi Airport that you see today if our leaders and our fore fathers had dreamt small. Passenger traffic grew year-on-year by an impressive 10%, and Changi Airport crossed the 50 million passengers in 2012. That is 10 times the population of Singapore.

  2. People who have the ability and the dare to dream of the impossible, and then make that dream a reality are more likely to be successful.

  3. We consider Bill Gates an overnight success, but it actually took him 'fifteen' long years to achieve that! Bill Gates started Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen when he was 19. Both had a vision that there will be a day when 'every one' will have a personal computer. In those days, computers were big and huge machine, the size of a room. And now this is reality, almost all literate people in the world owns a computer and many here probably own more than one. And his two personal dreams were:
    • · To build a software that his mother could use; and

    • · To build a company bigger than his father's law firm.

Do you think he has succeeded?

  1. Now I turn my attention to MAJ Aviation, a local Small Medium Enterprise. It is no big success story compared to those I have related. At the very start, the company aspires to be a world-class aviation engineering Support Company, even when it had only a small manpower support outfit some 10 years ago. Our vision is to provide a complete suite of support solutions and added convenience to aircraft owners and operators. Five years ago, when we were still a relatively new player in the MRO business, we had a manifesto to "Redefine the support for the General Aviation". And in 2012, part of our dream came true with the opening of the General Aviation Centre (GAC), which houses world's first 2-level rotating carousel for aircraft. At present, we aim for the General Aviation Centre to play an essential role in completing the aviation eco-system, serving the needs of GA community as an innovative one-stop service centre.

Embrace life-long learning and Change

  1. Why did MAJ venture into General Aviation? MAJ sees opportunities in changes. It sees Singapore entering into a new economic landscape with the substantial economic growth potential in this part of the world given the archipelagic geography of South East Asia. It will face new transformational infrastructure demands. One of these is a new transportation and mobility system to drive regional economic growth and to provide business connectivity for modern times. Besides the thriving commercial aviation, we expect business and private aviation to grow steadily over the next 30 years, where it provides the much needed direct point to point, cities and township connectivity in support of businesses. Seletar Airport can certainly be transformed into an air-hub for private and business jets for this region.

  2. Thus, we need to recognise the need to change and adapt. We need to constantly learn new technologies, new ways of doing things and acquire new knowledge. I hope none of you will think of your diploma as an end-point. This event is just the beginning, you've been given a wonderful academic foundation - an invitation to begin a journey of lifelong learning. Albert Einstein once wrote; "Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it." In so doing, you can become the change agents of the future.

  3. At this juncture, let me share with you my personal experience. I started my career as a part time student with the Singapore Polytechnic at the Ayer Rajah Campus. I was then an apprentice engineer with SIA. I served 23 years in RSAF before retiring to do business just a decade ago. That almost quarter of a century in the RSAF has provided the training ground for me when I first served as a technical officer and later as an engineer.

  4. Here then is my advice to those who want to be in the engineering business - success is not instant. You need to persevere and even to savour it in order to enjoy it! The longer you stay in the trade, the more you build your expertise and confidence. Do this before you think about venturing into business or any other discipline? Honestly, I enjoyed my days as an aerospace engineer.

Concluding Remarks

  1. In conclusion, I will encourage you to HOPE as you set your sights on this changing world. Leave this planet a better place than you found it. That need not be as grandiose as it sounds. It can take the form of getting involved with a project, or working in a decent job, or raising a family that will carry good values into the future. Make a difference! Live your life so that at the end of your journey, you will know that your time here has been well spent, and that you leave behind more than you gotten.

  2. Thank you.

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