03 August 2010

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to be here today at the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and MaritimeONE Scholarship Awards Ceremony. This is the third time that MPA is collaborating with MaritimeONE to organise this scholarship ceremony. It is a reflection of the close partnership between MPA and the maritime industry to nurture young talents like yourselves who will be the future leaders of Singapore's maritime sector.

This year, we are giving out a total of 41 scholarships and sponsorships to bright young individuals. A consistent interest in maritime scholarships among our students is evidenced by the number of applications submitted over the past two years. I would like to congratulate the 10 MPA scholars and 21 MaritimeONE scholars who have been awarded scholarships to pursue maritime degree programmes at renowned overseas and local universities. I would also like to congratulate the two students who have been awarded sponsorships to pursue the Diploma course in Maritime Business, and the Diploma course in Nautical Studies at the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA). Last but not least, I would like to extend my congratulations to the Seafaring Alternative, an Investment for Life (SAIL) scholar and the seven Tripartite Maritime Scholarship Scheme (TMSS) scholars who have been awarded scholarships to study Nautical Studies or Marine Engineering at SMA.

Today, the Singapore maritime industry contributes about seven per cent to Singapore's GDP and employs about 150,000 personnel. MPA and its maritime partners have sought to nurture a pool of well-trained and competent maritime personnel in Singapore to fill posts in MPA and the maritime sector at large. It is critical to nurture a ready pool of highly qualified maritime personnel in Singapore to meet the demands of the maritime industry. With the support of the maritime community to sponsor deserving students, Singapore's position as a leading international maritime centre will be further strengthened.

Since the inception of MPA in 1996, we have offered 74 scholarships for students to pursue degree programmes as well as 31 sponsorships for students to attend various diploma and maritime-related degree programmes. Besides developing talents for itself, MPA is also committed to manpower development for the maritime industry. MPA, shipping companies and the local seafarer unions, have come together to provide the TMSS and the SAIL scholarships since 2002. These scholarships support students attending the seafaring-related diploma programmes at the SMA to help build up the pool of local mariners. To date, we have given out a total of 99 TMSS and SAIL scholarships.I am pleased to update that 29 of our scholars have obtained their first professional certificates, qualifying them to sail as officers on board ships.

MPA and its partners will continue to attract and retain talent among the seafaring scholars.An example of this endeavour is the "Young Mariners Networking Event" which is organised twice yearly to create a support network for our scholars.In two such events last year, several ex-mariners shared their seafaring experiences and transitions to shore careers with students.I would like to take this opportunity to thank our industry partners, the shipping employers and the seafarer unions, for their continuous support in both our TMSS and SAIL programmes.

To further enhance our efforts in developing maritime manpower, MaritimeONE, or Maritime Outreach Network, was launched in April 2007 with MPA's three key partners- the Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI), the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) and the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA). MaritimeONE serves as a platform for maritime stakeholders to collectively raise awareness of the maritime industry and attract quality manpower to the industry.As part of the Singapore Maritime Week in April, this year, MaritimeONE Learning Journeys were also organised by the MaritimeONE partners for students from Institutes of Higher Learning, maritime scholars and maritime employees. The participants were brought on an exclusive tour of maritime facilities, including Raffles Lighthouse, the Port Operations Control Centre and Pasir Panjang Terminal, to have an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at operations in the maritime sector.

MaritimeONE has spearheaded several initiatives to raise the profile of maritime careers and education among local youths. In March, postcards featuring six young and outstanding maritime professionals and exciting facets of their career were launched and distributed island-wide.

MaritimeONE also partnered Singapore Polytechnic for the first time in a special video project to reach out to youth. Over 100 students were tasked to create their own maritime commercials as part of their classroom assignment. The five most outstanding maritime commercials were placed on the popular STOMP website as part of a three-month online marketing campaign, "The Maritime Video Challenge, People's Choice". Members of the public voted for their favourite commercials. The campaign was well-received by youth and expanded the online presence of the maritime industry and maritime careers.

Another highlight of MaritimeONE activities is the Maritime Leader Speakers Series (MLSS).The MLSS seeks to bring together maritime leaders to discuss pertinent and interesting topics and share their wealth of expertise with our youth.The 4th MLSS will be held on 27th August. We are honoured to have Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as our distinguished speaker. We are confident that this seminar would attract many youth as well as maritime professionals.

While the recent economic slowdown had affected the maritime industry, I am glad to note that the maritime community remained steadfast in its efforts to promote the maritime sector and nurture talents. This year, the Singapore Maritime Foundation successfully secured 21 MaritimeONE scholarships provided by six maritime organisations. I would like to thank these sponsoring companies for their continuous support of the MaritimeONE scholarships despite the challenging times, and SMF for working tirelessly to facilitate the scholarship process. We hope that more maritime partners would come forth to support our endeavour to grow the maritime talent pool in Singapore.

I am pleased to see many proud parents here today to witness their children receiving the scholarship and sponsorship awards. The maritime industry is one of the key pillars of Singapore's economy with ample opportunities for young people to develop their careers. Congratulations to the award recipients and I would like to wish you all the best in your future careers. Thank all of you for attending today's awards presentation ceremony. I trust you will have an enjoyable dinner and a joyous evening ahead.