15 May 2018

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.

      Thank you for taking time off to attend the MPA Global Internship Award (GIA) Presentation Ceremony. Today, we will witness 45 young promising individuals receive the MPA GIA. This is the highest number of MPA GIA recipients since the programme was launched in 2013, involving a record 30 participating companies. I would like to thank all the participating companies and our three local universities – Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) – for your strong support in this programme.


2     This is an exciting period for the whole maritime industry. Many new developments are underway as we prepare Maritime Singapore for the future. We are building a new port at Tuas which will be able to handle up to 65 million twenty-foot equivalent units or TEUs. This is double the current capacity of our City and Pasir Panjang Terminals combined. When fully ready, Tuas port will occupy 1,339 hectares, which is twice the size of Ang Mo Kio town, and able to handle mega ships of up to 18,000 TEUs and beyond. Tuas will be built to new standards. It will be a highly automated and intelligent port with autonomous guided vehicles, automated yard and quay cranes. Intelligent systems will be very much at the heart of Tuas port operations.

3     Apart from the port, PSA has been working hard to anchor their customers – both old and new - and entrench the shipping mega-alliances here, for example 2M, Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance. Thus far, these efforts have paid off. Apart from Maersk, PSA has signed joint ventures with MSC, CMA CGM, China Shipping Group and Ocean Network Express. Their strong presence attracts other players to come to Singapore as we grow our entire eco-system of shipping and maritime services.

4     Beyond our port, we are a vibrant and diverse International Maritime Centre, or IMC.  Today, we are recognised as a leading IMC in international benchmarking studies by Menon Business Economics and the Xinhua-Baltic Exchange, which ranked Singapore as the leading maritime capital and international shipping centre respectively.  Our IMC boasts a comprehensive cluster of shipping companies, and an array of maritime services such as ship broking, marine insurance and classification societies. We now have more than 5,000 related companies including 140 shipping groups. We remain an attractive place for maritime companies. I am happy to share that earlier this year, Wilhelmsen Ship Management, a Norwegian company has decided to relocate its head office from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

5     Following our recent IMC 2030 Strategic Review, we are working with the maritime community to further expand and deepen their presence in Singapore. For example, we are working with adjoining sectors such as commodities trading and logistics to strengthen the interlinkages between shipping and other related sectors of the Singapore economy.  We are also exploring how to achieve better clustering of maritime activities in the various parts of Singapore, whether for existing or new types of activities. Our vision is to position Singapore as a Global Maritime Hub for Connectivity, Innovation and Talent. 


6     Even as we continue to invest in our global hub port and IMC, the industry is confronting fundamental transformation as with other sectors of the economy. It is facing disruption from technological developments such as digitalisation, internet of things and artificial intelligence, as well as new innovative business models such as shipping and freight e-platform, and block chain. There is also growing interest in autonomous systems such as ships and drones.

7     We are preparing for these transformations through our experimental living labs at MPA, PSA and Jurong Port where we collaborate with the industry to design or re-design solutions for the future. We set up the MPA Living Lab to provide realistic environment and data for scale-up testing of innovative technological solutions. An example of a solution is MPA’s collaboration with ST Electronics and Kongsberg Norcontrol on a Next-Generation Vessel Traffic Management Innovation Programmes to develop new operation concepts and advanced capabilities such as maritime situational awareness, and proactive traffic management. Similarly, PSA and Jurong Port are partnering technology and research companies at their Living Labs to develop new automation technologies such as Automated Guided Vehicles and Automated Cement Unloaders respectively, and other intelligent systems to manage their port operations better.

8     To strengthen the maritime innovation ecosystem, the start-up space is also an important and exciting area of development. We have various interesting initiatives underway to support start-ups, such as our recently launched PIER71 or Port Innovation & Ecosystem Reimagined at BLOCK71. PIER71 provides crucial landing space and surrounding start-up ecosystem at BLOCK71 to help new start-ups and young entrepreneurs to develop their products and grow their industry networks.

9     To promote efficiency in the maritime industry, MPA is working with SSA and Customs to explore electronic bills of lading, or e-BL. The bill of lading has been a document issued by a carrier to acknowledge receipt of cargo. By moving on to e-bills of lading, we are reducing the cost and inefficiencies due to handling these paper bills of lading. MPA is  also involved in a proof-of-concept to develop a productivity tool for the ship agency sector using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology that aims to free ship agents from handling tedious manual tasks so that they can focus on problem solving and higher value-add customer services. The proof-of-concept will involve two ship agencies and is expected to be completed by September 2018.

10     Beyond Singapore, we are also collaborating with other ports on cleaner fuels such as liquefied natural gas, or LNG, and emerging areas such as cybersecurity and electronic exchange of information. These efforts are just the tip of the iceberg as we seek to prepare ourselves for the future.


11     As much as we should harness innovation and technology to stay ahead, our maritime cluster is ultimately held together by people, good talent and the relationships that power the businesses. This is why it is essential for us to develop our human capital and cultivate desired employee attributes among our youths. Based on industry feedback, we found that overseas exposure, global perspectives and industry experience are some of the key attributes which are highly valued by employers.

12     This makes the MPA GIA highly relevant as the programme serves to help our young talent gain overseas working exposure and build global mind sets. This year, we are indeed very pleased to welcome new participating companies to the MPA GIA. They are ANL Singapore, CMA CGM, RFIB, Swire Pacific Offshore Operations, The China Navigation Company, North of England P&I Club and TORM. Thank you all for giving your valuable support to the programme.


13     Let me now share an example of a student who not only looks forward to the overseas exposure and industry experience from MPA GIA, but also exemplifies some of the desirable qualities we look out for among our youths, such as adaptability and resilience. Mr Muhammad Imran Bin Md Zin, a current Bachelor of Science in Maritime Studies undergraduate from NTU, took the less conventional academic route of enrolling with the Institute of Technical Education or ITE. He graduated with a Higher NITEC in Business IT before deciding to enter Republic Polytechnic, where he obtained a Diploma in Industrial and Operations Management with flying colours. Imran then decided to take up Maritime Studies at NTU as he felt that Maritime Singapore provided a broad range of opportunities in the port and shipping sectors. Imran appreciated the opportunity to visit Norwegian shipping companies during his NTU student exchange programme. With the MPA GIA, he will be doing an internship at CMA CGM’s headquarters in Marseille, France and its APAC Office in Singapore.

14     The second student I would like to highlight is Ms Kimberly Lim, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Law at NUS. Kimberly will be interning at The North of England Protecting & Indemnity Club under the MPA GIA. She will benefit from learning how maritime legal knowledge can be applied in marine insurance. As part of her two-week overseas internship at the company’s headquarters in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, she will attend its industry-renowned Residential Training Course, which is conducted every year in the UK and every other year in Singapore.

15     Apart from students, companies can also benefit from participating in the MPA GIA. Ms. Benita Low, the first recipient of MPA’s Global Internship Award with Norden, has gained significantly from her stint with Norden and proceeded to stay on with the company. As an intern and later on as an Operations Trainee at Norden’s headquarters in Denmark, the overseas exposure Benita gained helped her appreciate the diverse and global nature of shipping and adapt quickly to Norden’s corporate culture. She has since progressed to an Assistant Operations Manager at Norient Product Pool, a subsidiary of Norden, which manages 97 product tankers.

16     Beyond MPA GIA, MPA also works with the industry and labour movement on talent development through manpower initiatives such as co-funding support for training courses, management associate programme and overseas attachment opportunities. This is to ensure that there are sufficient opportunities for our maritime employees to continue on their training journeys even after they leave school. I would thus highly encourage you to keep your skills and knowledge relevant, even after you enter the workforce and throughout your career.


17     Let me conclude by saying that Maritime Singapore’s continued success hinges on our ability to grow a pool of maritime ready workforce. The diversity of this industry offers rewarding and enriching careers to youths who wish to venture beyond traditional careers. We remain committed to groom a pipeline of leadership talent for the maritime sector and look forward to welcoming you into the maritime industry upon your graduation.

18     As part of the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, MPA will continue to work closely with the industry and our unions to build upon the strong tripartite partnership to develop the future skills needed as well as good career pathways for all in the maritime sector.

19     On behalf of the host companies and universities, I wish all recipients an enriching internship. To the host companies and universities, I would like to convey our appreciation once again for your firm support to groom the next generation of maritime talent. I wish all of you a pleasant evening ahead.

20     Thank you.