Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in The Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance, at The Opening Session of The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) Convocation Ceremony for the Class of 2020 on 29 April 2021, at SUSS29 Apr 2021
Madam Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore and Patron of SUSS,
Mr Stephen Lee, Chancellor of SUSS,
Mr Richard Eu, Chairman of SUSS,
Members of the SUSS Board of Trustees,
Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President of SUSS,
And of course, the Class of 2020,
A very good morning.
2. I am delighted to be here with you at the opening session of the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) Convocation Ceremony for the Class of 2020.
3. To all graduands, congratulations on achieving this milestone in your life!
a. Each of you has invested many hours of hard work, persevered through difficulty, and made sacrifices, in order to be here today.
b. Today’s graduation is a testament to your dedication to continual learning and personal growth.
4. This is what we are all here to celebrate today, together with your family members and loved ones, as well as the SUSS faculty and staff who have guided you through this journey. We are all very proud of you.
5. And, as Professor Cheong mentioned, this Convocation Ceremony has special meaning for me, because I was involved in the setting up of this law school and I am so proud to see that this batch is graduating and very excited to see what part you are going to play in the future.
Disruptive change for good
6. Let me just say a few words on what has happened in the past year, and what it means in the context of our universities. COVID-19 has been the crisis of a generation. It has been more than a year since the start of the Circuit Breaker on 7th April 2020.
a. The economy and our workers have suffered.
b. Overseas travel has been largely suspended.
c. We all had to adjust to disruption and change.
d. Universities and their students were not spared. In fact, this convocation ceremony was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
7. Despite all of this, what is heartening, is that as a society, we have risen to the challenge.
a. So far, community infections have been kept under control but we must remain vigilant to keep it that way.
b. We have made steady progress in our nationwide vaccination programme.
c. We have had a phased return to work with up to 75% of workers now able to return to the workplace at any one time. We have also resumed many aspects of pre-pandemic life, although with precautions.
d. It is because of this collective effort as a society that we are able to come here today to celebrate your achievements, although with safe distancing measures that have become the new normal.
8. As we begin to emerge from the crisis, we must be prepared for a new paradigm.
a. In the 56 years since Singapore became an independent nation in 1965, the world has seen many changes – from the threat of communism and the Cold War to terrorism and globalisation, financial crises and now the digital revolution and disruption on an unprecedented scale arising from the pandemic.
b. These developments have all wrought change and we have had to adapt and adjust. This is why our educational institutions have an important part to play.
9. To equip our people to be ready for change no matter what form it may take, we have created a landscape of different institutions of higher learning, each focused on different aspects of making our people future-ready through education.
a. SUSS occupies a distinct and unique space with a strong emphasis on:
i. learning for adults and mid-career individuals;
ii. the social sciences; and
iii. applied learning.
b. As such, SUSS plays a pivotal role in supporting Singapore’s efforts to:
i. nurture a culture of lifelong learning; and
ii. continually equip our workforce with the skills so they can remain relevant in an ever-changing world.
10. Each of you should think of yourselves as part of our mission to create the Singapore of tomorrow – to embrace the spirit of continual learning; to be able to ride the winds of change; to be able to do the practical and the real; and to lay the foundations for the generations that will come after you.
a. Dr Krishnamoorthi Sivalingam is a technical manager from Rolls-Royce. He is 46 years old. He is the only PhD graduate from the SUSS School of Science and Technology in the Class of 2020. For his PhD, he conducted an in-depth study of renewable energy and electrification. He intends to apply what he has learnt toward his work in the research and development of electric aircraft at Rolls-Royce Singapore. Hopefully, work in this area will help us to deal with the climate crisis better and create a more sustainable future.
b. I am also pleased to note that the 14 business executives who participated in the SUSS Executive Management Programme will be receiving their certificates today. The Executive Management Programme is offered as a separate track from the SUSS degree programmes, and is a key component of the university’s ‘multiple pathways’ approach to inspiring lifelong learning. I would like to congratulate all participants, and I encourage you to continue with your positive attitude towards learning.
Doing Good Together
11. After today’s ceremony and armed with your degrees and certificates, the question is – what’s next? What will you do with these qualifications under your belt?
12. While you will of course find jobs in or contribute in your chosen fields, I would like to leave you with a larger and a broader goal, which is: let us do good together.
13. As you progress in your careers, there will be many opportunities for you to contribute towards helping others and making Singapore a better place.
14. During the Circuit Breaker last year, we saw many examples of how people stepped up to contribute their talents and skills.
a. Computer engineers refurbished laptops and IT devices for children from low-income families so that they would not be left out of home-based learning.
b. Social workers, teachers and persons from many walks of life volunteered to operate the national hotlines for those suffering from mental health issues.
c. Retired medical and healthcare practitioners, as well as those from the private sector, stepped forward to join Singapore’s fight against COVID-19 through the SG Healthcare Corps.
15. Each of them used their skillsets and life experiences to help others.
a. SUSS has equipped you with new skillsets. Use them to make a difference.
b. Denny Lin, from the School of Law, has contributed 74 hours of pro bono assistance at community legal clinics and the Law Society Pro Bono Services office, in the course of his studies at SUSS. This is considerably more than the 20 hours of pro bono required for graduation. Denny is from the very first batch of law graduates from the SUSS School of Law, which was set up to meet the need for lawyers in the areas of Criminal Law and Family Law.
16. That is the doing good part. It is also important to do it together. You will find that it is when we collaborate together and partner each other, that we are able to be even more effective.
17. That is the spirit of Singapore Together, and the underlying philosophy of the Alliances for Action which were launched in June last year.
18. Since then, many partnerships have been formed between the Government and non-government agencies, companies, and individuals.
19. Let’s harness the power of “we” to make Singapore and the world a better place.
20. In closing, let me once again congratulate every one of our graduands today. I wish you great success in your endeavours and fulfilment in your careers. I look forward to hearing great stories about the contributions of the class of 2020 toward the community, in the years to come.
21. Congratulations once again, and thank you very much.