11 May 2017


Distinguished Guests,

Award recipients and parents,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good evening and a warm welcome


2       I am pleased to join you today in witnessing the achievements of 39 young promising individuals who will be receiving the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore Global Internship Award (MPA GIA).


3       I would like to thank our industry partners and the three local universities – NTU, NUS and SMU - for your continued support of the programme. This year, we are pleased to welcome new participating companies - BLPL, BW Offshore, “K” Line, Maersk, Pacific Carrier Limited and our committed supporters like Braemar ACM, DNB Asia, Howe Robinson, IMC Industrial, J. Lauritzen, Norden, Rickmers and Shipowners P&I Club, who have been with us since the first run of the MPA GIA.



4       The MPA GIA was launched in 2013 to provide local undergraduates in the penultimate year with a deeper appreciation of the global nature of the maritime industry by presenting them with experiential learning opportunities in the local and overseas offices of maritime companies. The numbers have grown from 23 students in 2014 involving 16 participating companies to 39 students in 2017 involving 27 participating companies.


5       Over the last few years, to cater to the diverse needs of the maritime industry, we have expanded the MPA GIA to cover students from non-maritime disciplines such as law, finance and computing. Let me share with you an example of a graduate from NTU’s Maritime Studies programme who has benefitted from the MPA GIA experience. Ms Serene Ong was awarded the MPA GIA Award in 2014 to undertake an internship with The Shipowners’ P&I Club where she was exposed in both the Club’s Singapore and UK offices to claims handling and underwriting. Upon her graduation in 2015, she was selected for the Club trainee programme. Today, she is an Assistant Claims Handler in the Club’s claims department.


6       Another example is Ms Jesslyn Zeng, who is currently pursuing a double degree in Economics and Law. While studying, she came across modules offered by the Centre of Maritime Law at NUS. Jesslyn was keen to obtain more experience in maritime law and felt that an internship with BW Offshore’s in-house legal counsel would provide her with this opportunity. She will therefore be interning at BW Offshore’s Norway office for three weeks. We wish her an exciting and rewarding experience.


7       The importance of the MPA GIA was underscored in the recent Report of the Committee on the Future Economy or CFE, which highlighted the increased need for our people and enterprises to operate in overseas markets as we internationalise. I am glad to note that the MPA GIA programme was mentioned in the CFE report as one of the overseas internship programmes from which other sectors could learn. I believe that the MPA GIA is an excellent platform for our award recipients to be more culturally and globally exposed even before they embark on their future careers upon graduation in a year’s time.



8       These are exciting times for the maritime industry, both globally and locally. We all know that this is an industry that is highly cyclical and whose fortunes follow the ups and downs of world trade. But it is also an industry that is indispensable to world trade as goods will still have to be shipped by sea, which remains one of the most efficient ways of doing so.


9       The maritime industry has also transformed itself over the last decade, with more transformations to come, as a result of industry consolidation, advent of new technologies as well as new business models. Today, ships have become bigger, more advanced and sophisticated, just as ports are also becoming more automated and intelligent. Shifts in supply chains, Industry 4.0 and advanced manufacturing will drive further changes to the industry in the coming years.


10     The maritime sector in Singapore remains vibrant and resilient, not by chance, but by the conscious efforts on the part of all key stakeholders - the government, industry and unions working together hand-in-hand to tackle the strong headwinds, manage the downsides, even as we prepare for the upturn by investing in future capabilities. In short, Maritime Singapore has thrived over the years because we have made sure we remain relevant.


11     Just last month at MPA’s 12th Singapore Maritime Week, Menon Economics released an international report which ranked Singapore in the top spot for the third time in a row in a benchmarking of the world’s maritime capitals.  We were ranked ahead of cities such as Hamburg, Oslo, Shanghai and London. So from being a global port and international maritime centre, Singapore is increasingly becoming the global maritime hub of choice.


12     Reaching the top is difficult, but staying there is even more challenging. It is therefore important that we stay adaptive and nimble to a fast-changing global environment; and continue to challenge and reinvent ourselves to remain relevant and attractive, both as a global hub port and an international maritime centre.


13     To do this, we must continue to invest in future capabilities. Our new Tuas Port will double our current capacity and support the mega-shipping alliances with their larger vessels, and the deployment of more intelligent and automated technologies such as AGVs and remote cranes will enhance our efficiency and raise productivity. Greater use of data analytics coupled with just-in-time and single window clearances will allow for even more efficient port operations.


14     Apart from the port, we will continue to strengthen Singapore’s position as an international maritime centre by anchoring and growing international shipping groups beyond the current pool of more than 140 groups in Singapore. We have formed an IMC 2030 Advisory Committee last year to identify growth opportunities and chart future directions for Maritime Singapore.


15     All these efforts will dovetail into the Industry Transformation Map, or ITM, for the Sea Transport sector which will be the blueprint to drive growth and competitiveness of the sector. It will be launched early next year.


16     To all our award recipients here today, my advice is to play your part by keeping your skills and knowledge relevant. We are in a phase of industrial transition, some may even call it post-industrial, where it can no longer be business as usual for businesses, industry and even governments. This is why the MPA GIA is such an important initiative in building up a strong pipeline of skilled talent with a global mindset for the maritime sector.



17     Let me conclude by saying that Maritime Singapore’s success hinges on our sustained efforts. Many of you will be our future maritime leaders. We are investing in you today in the hope that one day you will also give something back to the community - by taking up leadership positions, building up our global networks, and attracting more players to come to Singapore. As we develop into the global maritime hub of choice, I look forward to working with you and your colleagues upon your graduation in elevating Maritime Singapore to the next level.


18     On behalf of the participating companies and universities, I wish all recipients an enriching internship. To the universities and participating companies, thank you once again for your support.


19   Thank you.