16 October 2017

Opening Address by CE MPA

1 Greetings. Happy to be here at the SMOU bursary & scholarship awards presentation ceremony. As a scholarship holder myself, appreciate the opportunity the government has given me to pursue an overseas education which my parents would not have been able to afford. I know many of you appreciate the hard work that our parents have put in to bring us up – and we may not say this as much as we should - so let me nudge this process a little by encouraging everyone to turn to your parents to say thank you! And I know every little bit of help you get from not only yourselves but partners as SMOU and Wavelink Enterprise among others, go some way to assist. So thank you to our bursary and scholarship award sponsors as well!

2 This morning, a total of $29,300 will be presented to 44 recipients. The scholarships are fully sponsored by SMOU while the bursaries are jointly funded by SMOU and NTUC U Care Education Co-funding scheme, which allows the union to provide more support to the low income members’ children. SMOU’s social enterprise, Wavelink Co-operative, will also be sponsoring 21 members’ children with Wavelink Book Awards worth a total of $9,600.

3 These are exciting times for the maritime industry in Singapore. Many new developments to share with you. We have plans for a new port, twice the current capacity, that is being built at Tuas. This port will deploy state of the art technologies, from automated guided vehicles to remote quay cranes. Our new port will serve the larger vessels of the mega shipping alliances as the industry consolidates into a few key players. We will anchor all these key players in Singapore.

4 Beyond the port, we are also a leading maritime cluster, The Menon Report & Xinhua-Baltic Exchange Index names us as the world’s leading maritime centre. All kinds of maritime services have set up a presence in Singapore. Beyond the ship owners and operators, we now have banks, classification societies, P&I Clubs and law firms all represented in Singapore. We are determined to grow our maritime cluster further by attracting more of these players to deepen and expand their presence in Singapore.

5 Beyond the port and IMC, we are also witnessing new developments that will impact on the industry. New technologies, including disruptive technologies, are also finding their way into the maritime sector. For example, digital technologies are allowing vessels to be better monitored through a vast array of sensors and IoT, and such monitoring can be done from shore. Blockchain is being tested out in areas such as electronic bills of lading. Mobile apps are becoming popular ways to allow for B2B and B2C transactions. With the rise of e-commerce, online platforms such as Alibaba and Amazon are connecting businesses and consumers in ways never seen before.

6 All these changes will bring both opportunities and challenges. The maritime sector is one of the oldest sectors in Singapore. Singapore’s growth as a global city has followed the fortunes of its port, from the humble beginnings to what it is today.  Some of you may wonder whether we can compete against other ports and maritime centres as more ports are built, as new trade routes are being explored or developed, as others learn and catch up with us.

7 Let me assure you that we are not being complacent. We cannot be complacent. While we cannot compete on the basis of cost alone, we must be able to compete on the basis of our wits, ability to think out of the box and to take calculated bets. All these attributes are exactly the kind of attributes that the maritime industry likes. It is an industry that is not based on whether you simply have a piece of paper. It is based on skills, knowledge, experience and relationships. 

8 Take for example, Mr Abu Bakar Mohd Nor, who recently won the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year 2017 Award. Coming from a humble family, he worked all his way up with just a diploma from Singapore Polytechnic to become MD (gas & Specialised Vessels) for Keppel Offshore & Marine and MD of Singmarine. And there are many like him in the maritime sector.

9 Let me also add that a maritime career is not associated with seafaring as many people think. There are growing opportunities for shore based careers as our maritime cluster grows. Take for example Capt Cheong Kwee Thiam who is here with us today. Capt Cheong holds a CoC Class 1 and sailed with NOL before holding senior operational management roles in the office of NOL and Pacific Carrier Lines (PCL). He is currently a senior lecturer at the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA). His son, Eldrick Cheong is also with us today receiving a scholarship award for NUS.

10 The best part of being part of the maritime cluster in Singapore are the unique partnerships of all the stakeholders. The Singapore Maritime Cluster is a cohesive community.

11 Today, we see all this at work. The tripartite relationship between the government, unions and industry brings everyone together for the common good. It forms the bedrock of our efforts as we tackle the new challenges together. I am confident we can overcome all odds if we work together and step into a future that is exciting as it is increasingly complex.

12 Last but not least, to all of you who are receiving an award or bursary. Never forget that you must dream. Not dream small, but dream big. Singapore is where it is today because we never allowed our size to constrain our aspirations. We have always asked ourselves what can we do to make ourselves relevant to the rest of the world. And I hope that one day, all of you will do Singapore proud by excelling in your passions, whatever that may be. So go forth, do your best. Find your moon shot!