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Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance, At The Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) Homecoming Day at OBS, Pulau Ubin

18 Sep 2017
  1. Good afternoon everybody. I am very happy to join you to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Outward Bound Singapore! 
  2. On my way in, where I watched the students doing their jetty jump, I’m reminded about my own experience in the 21-day OBS programme when I was an officer cadet back in 1980. I had very fond memories of the 21 days because almost every day was an adventure, new experience where together, all of us, as fellow trainees challenge ourselves to do things which we never thought we could do. And we always do it and do it together. Whether it was the kayaking around the island, the jetty jump or solo camp, each and every one of the moments was special and holds a deep meaning for every one of us. I believe each of you have also gone through those experiences and you will see the same deep fond memories.

About the OBS@Coney expansion

  1. And we are continuing to invest in OBS to improve the facilities and programme, train more trainers, and provide a better experience for all participants.
  • Last year, I announced in the Budget that we are building a new OBS campus on Coney Island. Plans are underway to make this a reality. I am happy to learn that the tender has just been put out to get the consultancy on how to make it an even more interesting place.
  • OBS is also considering new equipment, such as outrigger kayaks and whaler pulling boats, to provide new experiences for participants.
  1. As I went around, I must say I see many new things which I didn’t see, years back when I was here. On the way, I met our students from the MOE-OBS Secondary Three Programme coming here for a really interesting programme.
  • Going beyond the island of Ubin, we are expanding OBS programmes to include new learning spaces on mainland Singapore.
  • Now, we tap on the Park Connector Networks for cycling and kick-biking activities, and water spaces around Pasir Ris and Punggol for water activities.
  • This is a great way to encourage our students to adopt a more active lifestyle within their communities, and to deepen their appreciation for the natural richness in urban Singapore. Although we are a small island, what is important is our imagination and how do we make the best use of every square inch of this to create great memorable experiences for everyone.

Hope for OBS for the next 50 years

  1. 50 years ago, when Dr Goh Keng Swee first suggested setting up an Outward Bound School in Singapore, he had intended for OBS to build a “rugged society”.
  • Since then, more than 500,000 Singaporeans across generations have benefitted from their Outward Bound experience.
  • I was very happy to see some of my fellow alumni, and some of them were here even before 1980. Two came here in 1972 as part of school experience.
  • And OBS is now also recognised locally and internationally as a leading Outward Bound centre, in providing innovative outdoor adventure learning to develop the character and confidence of our young.
  • Credit, and thanks, must go to the OBS team and the many hardworking OBS trainers who guided and inspired generations of young Singaporeans.
  1. 50 years on, the world has changed much.  There are items in the time capsule we unveil today that are no longer in use today. But the need for a rugged and resilient spirit is evergreen.
  • Over the years, there is one more very important thing that has come out of OBS – the strong bonds and lasting friendships that form when participants come together to encourage one another to overcome their challenges. I think it is this sense of team spirit that “we are in this together” that makes this experience so special. OBS not only teaches young people to push past their limits, to challenge themselves to be the best that they can be; OBS teaches them to do so together, as one.
  • For me, even though I may not remember the technical steps of each challenge, I will never forget the cheers of my teammates when I needed encouragement, or the real sense of triumph we all felt when one teammate pushed past his limits. 
  1. Going forward, I hope we continue to imbue our youths with the same ruggedness and can-do spirit that Dr Goh Keng Swee hoped for our people.
  • I have confidence the OBS team will keep growing as the premier world-class institution that Mr Wong Kan Seng envisioned.
  • And I hope that OBS will continue to be, not only the place where young Singaporeans discover their own strength and depth of character, but also where they start the friendships that will not only encourage them through life’s trials, but that will give life’s journey meaning.

A very happy 50th anniversary homecoming to everyone! Whether we are outward bound or homebound, may we always be bonded as one.