08 April 2019

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,


1. Good evening. I am pleased to join you this evening for the 10th Singapore International Maritime Awards (IMA) Ceremony. Although this is my first IMA dinner, it is heartening to see how far the event has come since it was first held here in 2004.

2. This year, MPA received a record 207 nominations for the IMA. The competition is getting stiffer. Indeed, it was not an easy task for the panel of judges chaired by Mr Niam Chiang Meng, Chairman of MPA.
This evening, we will be honouring 12 companies and individuals who have made significant contributions to the growth of Maritime Singapore.

Maritime SG Bicentennial

3. 2019 is a special year for us as it marks the bicentenary of the founding of modern Singapore – a key milestone in our longer history which dates back some 700 years. The decision to make Singapore a free trade port back in 1823 was a pivotal one. This accelerated Singapore’s rise as a leading trading hub, facilitating trade within the region and between the Far East and Europe, and driving the growth of the maritime sector in Singapore.

4. Many companies, both homegrown and those who decided to set up here, worked hard, and have done well. Collectively, they have helped put Singapore on the world map.

5. For instance, PSA first began in 1864 as the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company – one of several dock companies then. It was then a modest set-up where cargo was handled manually at wharves measuring just 750 feet. Over time, investment in its facilities – such as steam winches and cranes – and expansion of its wharves and warehouses, allowed it to grow and differentiate itself, and it became the largest docking and wharfing company in Singapore. Its transformation efforts through the years have enabled the port to keep up with the growing trade volumes. In 1966, PSA made its most significant investment when it decided to build its first container terminal, at a time when not a single shipping line in Asia had committed to building container ships for the Europe-Far East route. Fast forward five decades later, we are reaping the dividends from that investment. The success of our city terminals has given us the confidence to pursue a bolder future at Tuas.

6. Today, we are not just a bustling port. Alongside the port, a rich ecosystem of maritime services companies has flourished. Shipowners and operators have access to a wide array of services – marine insurance, chartering, broking, legal and finance. We continue to attract new players such as Norvic Shipping, a dry bulk operator headquartered in Canada, which has commenced operations in Singapore to grow its commercial activities in the Asia Pacific region.

7. Existing companies have deepened their presence here too. Rio Tinto, which made Singapore its headquarters for shipping activities in 2015, also made Singapore its commercial hub last year. This move brought its global sales, marketing, marine, logistics and procurement activities under one roof, allowing it to better serve its clients. Braemar Group, a leading international provider of maritime services, also established its financial advisory and consultancy division here, making Singapore the Group’s largest and only overseas office in Asia to offer its full suite of services.

Continuous Transformation Key to Maritime Success

8. As the world changes around us, disruptive technologies and the changing business environment are real challenges that businesses are trying to understand and tackle day to day. With the fast pace of change, it has become more challenging to keep ahead. But I am confident that we can and will find new and creative ways of transforming ourselves.

9. Take for instance, Pacific Carriers Limited (PCL). PCL was amongst the first batches of maritime incentive award recipients in 1993. Despite being one of the oldest shipping companies here in Singapore today, it has never stopped finding ways to re-invent itself. Recognising the need for change amidst the evolving maritime landscape, PCL’s leadership set in motion a corporate transformation roadmap last year.

10. As part of this effort, PCL will be adopting emerging technologies to meet new business needs, and streamlining internal systems and processes to achieve greater efficiencies and optimisation. I wish PCL success in its transformation journey.

11. Other maritime companies have found that by enhancing productivity through digitalisation, they now have a wider capacity to explore frontier innovations and to focus on their customers’ bespoke needs. For example, OSM Ship Management set up their 24/7 Maritime Operations Centre, which consolidates and analyses data across all its global operations. Building on its operations centre as a maritime innovation hub, OSM will be exploring the application of game-changing technologies such as IoT-enabled equipment, AI for predictive maintenance, and edge computing in the maritime space. This will be done through an ecosystem of digital partnerships.
These technologies will ultimately translate into further improvements in performance for OSM’s customers, as well as a better working environment and improved safety for seafarers.

12. MPA has schemes in place to help maritime companies streamline business processes, adopt customisable technology solutions and develop innovative technology products. We will also continue to roll out new initiatives. For instance, MPA has recently worked with the Info-comm Media Development Authority, Enterprise Singapore and industry partners to develop an Industry Digital Plan (IDP) for small and medium enterprises in the harbour craft and ship agency sub-sectors. I will be announcing more details about the Sea Transport IDP later this week.

Transforming Alongside Our People

13. Transformation is not just about technology and processes. It is about people as well. This is why Jurong Port has established the JP Academy at the Devan Nair Institute of Employment and Employability. JP Academy aims to build core competencies for Jurong Port, its users and partners, and to raise productivity. I am happy to hear that the academy will be taking an inclusive approach, and tailoring its programmes to accommodate the diverse language and education backgrounds of course participants. And as JP expands into new business segments, plans are underway to ensure that stevedores are skilled to operate multiple types of equipment so that they remain highly deployable.

14. With the ongoing transformation in the maritime sector, our workforce will need new skills and knowledge to take on evolving job roles. We will therefore continue to foster partnerships across the Singapore Government, industry, unions and academia to equip our workforce with the right skills and capabilities. For example, PSA and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) have recently launched the Work-Learn Technical Diploma in Port Automation Technology.

15. This diploma programme will equip ITE graduates with the skills to maintain and repair the automated systems and equipment which will be deployed at the next-generation container terminal at Tuas. In a similar vein, the Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Management University have worked with the industry to review their maritime curricula to ensure their relevance. The changes, which range from extended internship periods to an increased focus on digital and soft skills, will be implemented progressively from the next academic year onwards.

16. Beyond equipping those already in the maritime sector with relevant skills, we want to help professionals of diverse backgrounds to join the maritime sector. I am happy to share that MPA is working with the Singapore Polytechnic, SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore to develop the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Sea Transport Professionals. The Sea Transport PCP will help mid-career professionals re-skill and take up exciting job opportunities in the maritime sector. More details will be announced later this year.


17. In closing, I would like to congratulate IMA winners on your well-deserved achievement and thank everyone for your continued support for Maritime Singapore. Over the years, we have worked hand in hand with you to grow Maritime Singapore, and we look forward to strengthening this partnership with you in the years ahead.

18. Looking ahead, 2019 will be another challenging and exciting year for us all. But I am confident that if we stay committed to working together in transforming ourselves, pursuing new growth areas and creating good jobs, we will continue to fly the Singapore flag high and build a Maritime Singapore that future generations can be proud of.

19. I wish you a pleasant evening ahead. Thank you.