Speech by Minister for Communications and Information, and Minister-in-Charge of Smart Nation and Cybersecurity Mrs Josephine Teo at The Smart Nation Scholarship Virtual Award Ceremony on 31 Aug 2021

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 CONGRATULATORY SPEECH BY GUEST-OF-HONOUR

JOSEPHINE TEO

MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION, AND MINISTER-IN-CHARGE OF SMART NATION AND CYBERSECURITY

AT THE SMART NATION SCHOLARSHIP
VIRTUAL AWARD CEREMONY ON

31 AUGUST 2021

 

Permanent Secretaries (MCI and SNDG),

Chief Executives of CSA, GovTech and IMDA,

Scholarship Recipients.


INTRODUCTION

 

1.                 I’m very happy to meet our scholarship recipients. Let me just congratulate you on receiving this very prestigious award.

 

2.                 Although this ceremony is conducted virtually, it does not in any way diminish the importance of this occasion or the pride and joy that you and your families must feel. This marks the start of what we hope would be a fulfilling career in the public sector

 

 

CHALLENGES FACED IN OUR SMART NATION JOURNEY

 

3.                 As our Smart Nation scholars, you’d know that the government has been investing a tremendous amount of effort to build up our in-house tech capabilities. This has been a most important endeavour because it allows us to accelerate the pace of digital transformation, both within the Government as well as for Singapore.

 

a. Digital products, as you know, have enhanced the convenience and personalisation of services for our citizens and businesses. 95% of government transactions today are now completed digitally.

 

b. Technology has also helped to build and support the public health response in our fight against COVID-19. It mitigated the social and economic impact of the crisis.

 

c. Whether it’s making day-to-day life more seamless, or helping us wrestle with a tenacious virus, our engineers and tech talent have played a part, and in time to come, you will too.

 

4.                 As we continue to build up our Smart Nation, there are several things we need to do particularly well.

 

a. The first is to guard against cyber-attacks which have increased in scale and sophistication. There is a gentleman, TIM Weiner, who wrote a book on the history of the FBI. He said that “the greed of the bad guy is always stronger than the reach of the good guys”. Indeed, the malicious actors are constantly refreshing their methods. So, when we scale up our digital efforts, a strong foundation of cybersecurity is needed to ensure reliability and security of our digital platforms, and safeguard our digital space.

 

b. Second, we also need to continue to enhance public service delivery through user-centric and scalable products. I cannot emphasise this enough. We must go beyond digital literacy, to build digital mastery for an inclusive Smart Nation where everyone can leverage on digital tech to improve their lives. This is easier said than done, but we are gunning for it.

 

c. Third, we need to keep Singapore vibrant and competitive. For example, our investments in 5G aims to refresh the backbone of the digital infrastructure that supports technology innovation. Constant renewal of our digital infrastructure will be critical to spur economic growth, and also to promote digital inclusion for all of our society.

 

ROLES AND EXPECTATIONS OF OUR DIGITAL TECH TALENT

 

5.                 I am very glad that 14 of you have chosen a career in the digital tech sector with the Smart Nation family.

 

a. You have the opportunity for meaning and impact in your work.

 

b. As our future leaders and innovators, you will be looked upon to ideate, create, and seek synergies from multiple disciplines to break new ground, and implement digital solutions.

 

c. You will be entrusted with the task to safeguard our cyber landscape that enables, and imbues confidence in, our Smart Nation.

 

d. You will help to build a trusted digital environment for the deployment and adoption of digital tech.

 

e. You will be expected to apply your technical and leadership skills to lead exciting projects to speed up digitalisation, as well as help improve essential services for our citizens.

 

6.                 Grooming a team of Smart Nation Scholars is not unlike assembling a team of Marvel superheroes, each with their own unique superpower. By recognising and bringing together more diverse talents, we certainly hope to navigate the complexities ahead with greater confidence.

 

7.                 At the heart of it all, it is about improving the lives of our people through the smart and transformative use of technology.

 

MOST NUMBER OF FEMALE RECIPIENTS SINCE INCEPTION

 

8.                 I’m pleased to note that among our 14 scholarship recipients this year, we have five young women.

 

a. This is the largest batch of women recipients of Smart Nation Scholarship up to now.

 

b. The percentage has grown steadily over the years. We started with 22% in 2018, and it has risen to 36% today.

 

c. I hope the record can be broken for several years more.

 

9.                 Anna, Xinyi, Davis, and Jia Cheng – you will start your careers with GovTech after you graduate. You will find yourselves leading exciting projects to speed up digitalisation in the public sector, and you will work to keep improving the delivery of essential services for our citizens.

 

10.             Xin Yen, Bill, Chiraag and Ethan – you will start your careers at IMDA. The converging infocomm and media sectors present both opportunities and unknowns. But you will help build a trusted digital environment so that our people and businesses can get the most out of digital technology.

 

11.             Natasha, Boxuan, Darren, Jonathan, Sean Kan and Shaughn Chan – 6 of you will start your careers at CSA. You will be our new cyber warriors, entrusted with the task of safeguarding our cyber landscape, and building confidence in our Smart Nation. 

 

CONCLUSION

 

12.             Your journey of exploration and discovery has only just begun.

a. I hope you will keep your passion and spirit of innovation burning bright.

 

b. Make good use of your undergraduate years to develop your technical know-how, learn beyond your chosen courses and build wide networks and friendships, locally as well as globally. 

 

c. On your return, help to grow Singapore’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) ecosystem and co-author the next chapter of our Smart Nation journey.

 

13.  Congratulations once again!

 

 

Last updated on 15 Sep 2021