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Speech by Mr Tan Choon Shian



Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth

Your Excellencies

Members of the Singapore Polytechnic Board of Governors

Distinguished Guests



Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. Good morning and welcome to our 55th Graduation Ceremony. It is our pleasure to have Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth as our Guest of Honour on this momentous occasion.  Thank you, Minister, for your presence.

  2. Today, Singapore Polytechnic celebrates the graduation of 5878 graduands from diploma and post-diploma courses.  To the graduands, this is the fruit of your hard work and dedication in SP.  To the families, friends and lecturers who are here with us, you have been instrumental in the graduands’ success in SP.  I congratulate all of you.

SP@60 Celebrations

  1. Year 2014 was significant and memorable as SP celebrated its 60th anniversary.  One special event was the 17-km Heritage Trail where some 600 staff, students and alumni walked from SP’s first administrative office​​ in the Bank of China building to the former Prince Edward Road Campus and continued their journey to the other campuses such as Labrador, Ayer Rajah before finishing at our current Dover Campus.

  2. Another 60th anniversary event was the Poly-60 Campus Relay.  This signature annual relay started in the 1970s with students running 50 laps around the Prince Edward campus but in celebration of our 60th anniversary, we ran 60 laps last year.  Over a thousand participants comprising staff, students and some of our Board members including our Chairman and SP alumnus Bill Chang, joined in the race.

  3. There were also the SP@60 Alumni Homecoming Dinner, a original SP@60 fragrance formulated by our students from the Diploma in Perfumery and Cosmetic Science, and a coffee table book of photographs by our staff and students of our ‘Campus in a Garden’. 

  4. In the last twelve months, we saw the opening of 3 new facilities: new Design School Building, Singapore Institute of Technology Building and Sports Arena.  We look forward to the opening of Aerohub and new Business School Building in the coming months.

  5. Singapore mourned the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew in March 2015. I urge every graduand to reflect on the ideals of our Founding Prime Minister, and draw wisdom and lessons that will guide your future.

  6. Mr Lee believed in the pivotal role of SP in Singapore’s early development and was instrumental in the growth of our polytechnic. In his first official visit to SP in 1959, he impressed upon Singaporeans the importance of expanding polytechnic education if “we are to teach our young people how to earn a living in the new conditions Singapore finds itself”.  

  7. In officiating the opening of SP’s new campus on Dover Road in 1979, Mr Lee reiterated the importance of polytechnic education, saying, “This new campus marks our resolve to provide our young with the opportunities to climb higher up the technological ladder. The never ending search of new knowledge, new skills and the perfection of old skills is what ensure that we progress.”

  8. As we celebrate SG50 this year, we will remember the foresight and vision of our first Prime Minister. His words remain relevant to this day, embodied within the framework of the SkillsFuture initiative. 


  1. The SkillsFuture Council, chaired by DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam, has been formed to spearhead the national SkillsFuture movement to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to develop their fullest potential throughout life, regardless of their starting positions.

  2. At last year’s graduation ceremony, we unveilved SP’s new vision to be “A caring community of inspired learners committed to serve with mastery”.  This vision is well aligned with Skills-Future.  In our mission to prepare students to be “Life-Ready, Work-Ready and World-Ready”, SP continues to integrate real world learning with our curriculum.  We strive to instill in our students a greater sense of purpose, and clarity on their potential and career path towards success.  Our students will gain industry relevant skills and knowledge. On top of that, they will acquire soft skills and strong values through CCAs and meaningful community service.   

  3. Amongst us today is Jonathan Peh, Lee Kuan Yew Award recipient from the Diploma course in Civil Engineering with Business.  Describing himself as lost, unmotivated and rebellious in secondary school, Jonathan saw the error of his ways when he received disappointing O-Level results.  He was not successful when he first applied for admission in SP.  Undeterred, he appealed and finally joined the course for which he barely met the last aggregate score.  Once in SP, he was determined to study hard and prove his worth. Jonathan’s passion for physics and its real-world applications motivated him to attain mastery in his field of study in civil engineering.

  4. During his internship, he assisted Assistant Professor Darren Chian at the NUS in a MINDEF-funded research project on the impact resistance of composite materials, which led to improved sample preparation and testing procedures.  His Final Year Project team proposed a Green Solarain System which captures energy for buildings on both rainy and sunny days. This project won the Merit Award in the SP Green Challenge 2015.

  5. Jonathan also dedicated his time in SP to the arts and community service. He was the Concert Master of the SP Symphonic Band where he taught, composed and arranged music. He has performed with the Symphonic in 6 concerts, including an original orchestral work which he composed himself.

  6. Jonathan travelled to Makassar, Indonesia to construct a jetty for the underprivileged.  Remembering that he once received help in his studies, Jonathan paid it forward as a mentor to his fellow students under the school peer tutoring programme.  He also returned to his alma mater, Zhenghua Secondary School, to coach weak students. 

  7. I understand that Jonathan wishes to deepen his skills in engineering and contribute to Singapore’s transport infrastructure through a career with the Land Transport Authority.  I wish him all the best in his aspirations and success in the future.

  8. I am heartened to see that many of you are holistic graduates like Jonathan.  The three-year polytechnic education has started you on the path to be a successful and socially responsible individual.  We look forward to your contributions to our nation and society in the years to come.


  1. In closing, let me congratulate all of you once again and wish you the very best as you embark on a new journey beyond SP.  

  2. Thank you.
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