20 July 2011

Mr Lam Yi Young, Chief Executive, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore,

Professor Edmond Lo, Chair, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering,
Nanyang Technological University

Participants of the Inaugural Maritime Public Leaders Programme,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very delighted to join you here at this welcome reception for the inaugural Maritime Public Leaders Programme. To all our guests from overseas, a very warm welcome to Singapore.

Shipping is the cornerstone of the world economy with over 90 per cent of global trade being carried by sea. It has been estimated that over the last four decades, total seaborne trade have quadrupled from just over eight thousand billion tonne-miles to over 32 thousand billion tonne-miles today. Singapore is located along one of the busiest waterways used for international shipping and our unique location has contributed to the growth of our hub port and well as our international maritime centre. Today, Singapore is home to about 5,000 maritime companies, contributing over 7% to Singapore's GDP and employing more than 170,000 people of all nationalities. Indeed, the maritime sector is a key pillar of the economy.

Given the international nature of shipping, we believe it is important for policymakers and industry leaders around the world to come together and advance our shared interests in promoting the industry. The Maritime Public Leaders Programme (MPLP) thus aims to create such a platform for maritime leaders to exchange views on maritime issues. I hope that the vibrancy and experience of Singapore's maritime heritage will engender in-depth discussions among all of you who are attending this inaugural run.

Looking around this room, I am pleased to note that for the inaugural MPLP has received the support of our key maritime counterparts and industry partners. As Benjamin Franklin said, "an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest". MPA and NTU have worked together over the past few months to design an interesting programme comprising lectures and site visits to ensure that the MPLP curriculum is relevant to your work. The topics covered are wide ranging; covering areas of shipping economics, maritime security and port management. They will provide a holistic view of the issues faced by the maritime industry today.

Singapore, being a small country with no natural resources except its people, has always believed fervently in education and training. It was the basis for us to move from the Third World to the First in the space of one generation. It also forms the core of what we hope to share with other countries in terms of enabling them to follow in our footsteps. And within training, there is no aspect more important than training leaders as they make all the difference to the organisations that they lead. So, I would like to end my short remarks by sharing with you a story about one key decision made years ago by a team of leaders which made all the difference all these years later for Maritime Singapore. That was the decision to build the first container berths in Singapore in 1967. Back then, containers were carried onboard conventional ships and dedicated container handling berths were just starting to be built in the US, Europe and Japan. Even before the advent of container ships, our maritime leaders had envisioned that containerisation would revolutionise the shipping industry one day. Sensing this rare opportunity for Singapore at that time in 1967, they made a bold decision to prepare Singapore for a new era of container shipping. Our first container terminal in Tanjong Pagar was launched in 1972 with 3 container berths as only the second container terminal in the whole of Asia. The rest as they say is history. Since then, our port has grown rapidly to become one of the world's busiest container ports, capitalising on our first mover advantage and the economic dynamism of Asia. I hope that little story will inspire you to plan your own bold moves for the future and strive to transform your countries for the better.

With that, it leads me to congratulate the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University for the successful launch of this programme and wish you all a rewarding learning experience in the days ahead.

Thank you.