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Speech By Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Senior Minister of State For Finance and Transport, at The NYAA Bronze And Silver Award Presentation Ceremony, 31 March 2009 at The Singapore Polytechnic Auditorium

31 Mar 2009

Chairman and members of the NYAA Council

Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon.


I am very pleased to join all of you this afternoon at the National Youth Achievement Award, Bronze and Silver Awards Presentation Ceremony.

2. Singapore has come a long way since independence because of our people. As a small country, we would not have succeeded without the hard work, dedication and determination of our people. Our success as a nation is the result of the quality and character of our people.

3. Recognizing the importance of nurturing this indomitable spirit, the National Youth Achievement Award Programme was set up in 1992 to encourage youths to develop personal qualities of self-reliance, perseverance and a sense of responsibility to our society and nation. Since its formation, the Tote Board together with the Singapore Pools have committed $7 million to the programme. This has helped the National Youth Achievement Award Council introduce numerous opportunities for our youth to build up their character and channel their energy towards serving the community.

A Platform for Nurturing Our Youth

4. The programme has been an excellent platform for nurturing new generations of altruistic, energetic and world-ready Singaporeans who can confidently take Singapore into the future. The success of the programme can be attributed to its guiding principles which recognize that (i) every child in Singapore is precious, regardless of social, economic or physical constraints, (ii) every child has the potential to be a winner in his or her own right and (iii) every child can make a difference in our community.

5. Through the four mandatory sections, namely Service, Adventurous Journey, Skills, and Physical Recreation, the programme has provided numerous outlets for our youth to pursue activities of their own interest and capability. The Gold, Silver and Bronze level awards provide the necessary recognition and motivation for our youth's achievements in the various sections under the programme. Over the years, many of the NYAA Award recipients have gone on to achieve international success in their areas of interest and have continued to serve the community in one way or another.

6. One example is Dr Vinothini Apok, a NYAA Gold Award recipient who participated in the NYAA Programme while she was in Raffles Girls School. As a teen, Vinothini developed a passion for the environment, and the Council provided her with many opportunities to develop this passion and interest. In 1998, at the tender age of 18, she made history by becoming the youngest person to be elected into the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Youth Advisory Council.

7. On top of the NYAA Gold Award, Vinothini has also won the HSBC Youth Excellence Award, the Green Leaf Award, the HSBC/NYAA Youth Environmental Award and The Outstanding Overseas Student Award at the University of London where she studied medicine. Most recently, Vinothini now 26, made history again, by becoming the youngest doctor to be admitted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in the United Kingdom.

8. Another example is Mr Darren Soh, a NYAA Gold Award winner who participated in the NYAA programme while studying in Catholic High School. Darren took up photography under the Skills section in secondary two and was recently named one of the 30 Most Outstanding Emerging Young Photographers in the world by the prestigious Photo District News of New York. He is also the only Asian honoured this year.

9. Beyond receiving accolades for his craft, Darren has also contributed significantly to the community by setting up the NYAA Young Photographers' Network (YPN) which bridges youth's passion for photography with opportunities to serve the community. During the SARS crisis in 2003, the Network organized a national exhibition of photos from over 1,000 Singaporeans, highlighting the lighter aspects of life to uplift the country's morale during that difficult time. Young photographers from the Network who have been coached by Darren have also been engaged as the official photographers for the IMF/World Bank Annual Board of Governors Meeting and have also contributed images of trees taken at the Istana which helped raise over $100,000 for the President's Challenge.


10. The National Youth Acheivement Award programme has helped to nurture our youth and provide the support for them to stretch their own boundaries and scale new heights to improve themselves and in turn, contribute back to the community. Past award recipients are now making their mark at the national and international levels and I trust that today's recipients of the Bronze and Silver Awards will also do us proud and continue to leave their mark.

11. On that note, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the Award recipients today. The Government will do our part to continue to support the Programme and I have faith that the Council will also continue to provide you with the opportunities and platforms to help you realize and reach your fullest potentials, but you have to play your part in making this happen. How you achieve this depends very much on your willingness to achieve new goals, expand your horizons, and create a lasting impact on the community around us. Last but not least, I hope that you do do not stop here, and continue to reach for the pinnacle of the NYAA Programme - the Gold Award! Thank you.