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Being Exceptional Not About Examination Scores

04 Nov 2010

         The commentaries by Ang Yih Ching (‘75 marks Singaporeans’, LHZB, 31 Oct 10) and Goh Choon Kang (‘A generation of “plasticine people”?’, LHZB, 2 Nov 10) offered thoughtful perspectives on the challenge of excellence, following reports on Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s recent talk to a group of HCI students at the school’s ‘Breakfast with CEOs event’.

         We would like to highlight that Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was not referring to achievement of high examination scores or academic success, contrary to the impression that may have been gained from some of the news reports. He had urged the students to look beyond their grades, consider where their interests truly lay, and not be afraid to break away from conventional paths - as Ang Yih Ching noted. He observed that there is a common trait amongst successful entrepreneurs, individuals who made a difference in the workplace as well as those who helped change society for the better. They do not accept existing ways, and keep wanting to improve what they see. But they almost always also enjoy what they are doing and take pride in developing their expertise. He emphasised that this is true in all walks of life, whether amongst machinists and technicians, social workers or in other professions.

         He gave the example of dancers who went beyond achieving the “75 percent” level of competence, and ended up moving the audience with the sheer joy and mastery of their art. Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam had highlighted to the students the need for this spirit of excellence, whichever the pursuit, to take Singapore forward.

Yours faithfully

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications
Ministry of Finance