Address by Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) at SUSS Convocation 2020
Mdm Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore and Patron of SUSS
Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Finance and National Development
Mr Stephen Lee, SUSS Chancellor,
Mr Richard Eu, SUSS Chairman
Members of SUSS Board of Trustees
Graduands, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning, and welcome to SUSS Convocation Ceremony.
Let me first thank Her Excellency, Madam Halimah Yacob, for her presence and steadfast support as SUSS Patron. I am also grateful to Minister Indranee Rajah for gracing this occasion as our Guest-of-Honour.
Congratulations to the Class of 2020 on the completion of your education journey in SUSS. This significant milestone of your life has been achieved with much sweat and tears and we are proud of you, and I am sure, so are your family members and supporters.
This is a special occasion for you graduating amid a new normal forced upon us by COVID-19. It came without warning, it has disrupted the lives, work and relationships for most if not all of us, even this Convocation ceremony, which has been traditionally celebrated in October every year.
Despite the Phase 3 restrictions, we are holding this event because it marks a milestone and accomplishment for you - it holds much meaning for you, as it does for us. You have been waiting patiently for this, thank you. My colleagues have worked tirelessly to organise these ceremonies, and thanks is due also to them.
You are graduating in exceptional times, and even the future years come with more uncertainty. This calls for you to be an exceptional cohort as well, who will be pioneers on many fronts. And our society, Singapore, need you to tackle the new problems, situations and obstacles that will come our way, adding to the normal issues we face as a country. But while big changes have occurred, some things which we hope you have cultivated in SUSS remain unchanged – being adaptive, keeping a learning spirit, being socially-conscious, being practical and professional. And, some things remain important all through your lives – family, health, community. You will not regret holding on to these.
I’d like to leave you with three thoughts today:
First, stay positive. You will have your ups and downs – right now, some of you may be waiting anxiously to get into your dream job or even just any good job; others are worried about how long COVID-19 will last, unable to travel or holiday. Well, you’ve got your degree, that’s a goal reached, celebrate! Most problems do not remain un-solvable, and look smaller when you have a positive spirit, and surmountable if tackled one step at a time. And especially, if some others come alongside to help.
Second, be grateful. You had the chance to go to university, and you made the grade. You worked hard for it, but really, who else did help along the way? Those who supported you financially, those who taught you, those who gave their time for you, those who made other sacrifices, those who cheered you on when the going was tough. Take a moment to thank them all, especially your families and loved ones. [pause]
Third, do good. Even as the pandemic made life difficult, we saw waves of adaption, innovative ideas and acts of kindness all round. We should all be heartened. With your gratitude, a positive attitude, you can be doing good to others and lift spirits. Words can be cheap though, action is sacrificial. Most times, change agents put words into actions. Compassion, generosity, a concern for others will mark you, and us, out as positively different.
Indeed, our SUSS community has responded tangibly – we mounted support measures for our graduating cohorts and alumni, banded together to support our students financially through our Student Care Fund, and funded student start-ups to help create new ventures and jobs. Our students started service learning enterprises to answer the call of those in need or founded start-ups to meet different consumer demands. Each of them have inspiring and heart-warming stories.
COVID-19 has forced all of us to change, adapt, innovate, stop and review our priorities and who or what matters to us, as well as treasure what we have. We will ride out this pandemic eventually, but when it is over, don’t let this experience be wasted or forgotten – keep that same spirit, resilience and the good practices that you have developed as you go out and make a career as an SUSS graduate.
2,432 students are graduating from the Class of 2020 over the coming two weeks. I urge all of you to encourage one another, use what you have gained for self-advancement as well as for good outcomes for others. When you combine your strengths and good-heartedness, SUSS graduates will be a major force for good that society will welcome.
As SUSS sends you out, keep ties with us, actively engage with the University community. Join us as SUSS ambassadors or serve as a mentor for our new students.
Success aside, I hope you have also discovered more about yourself, what you are able to achieve, what really matters to you, how you will view life and the future differently now. I am sure SUSS’s core learning philosophy of ‘Head, Heart, Habit’ will spur you on to be professionally competent, socially conscious, and inspired to learn every day. So, go forth, and make your mark for the greater good!
On behalf of all of us from SUSS, congratulations and all the best for a bright future!
Introduction of Minister Indranee Rajah
Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my privilege to introduce our Guest-of-Honour, Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, and Second Minister for Finance and National Development.
Ms Rajah has been the Member of Parliament for the Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency since 2001.
She was in practice as a lawyer and Senior Counsel before joining the Government.
Ms Rajah served in the Ministry of Law from 2012 to 2018, where she co-chaired the Committees on Family Justice, the formation of the Singapore International Commercial Court as well as the Committee to Strengthen Singapore as an International Centre for Debt Restructuring.
She is special to us because she was also instrumental in setting up of Singapore’s third law school, our SUSS School of Law, and we are privileged she is here with us. Thank you, Minister. Ms Rajah also did two tours in the Education Ministry in 2012 to 2015 and 2018 to 2020. She led the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) Committee resulting in SkillsFuture and chaired UPLIFT - the "Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce", an inter-agency team convened to strengthen support for students from disadvantaged families.
Under her Finance portfolio, Ms Rajah co-chaired the Working Group on Legal and Accounting Services, the recommendations of which are aimed at transforming the legal and accounting industries in Singapore and catalysing the internationalisation of such professional services.
In the Prime Minister's Office, Ms Rajah oversees the National Population and Talent Division and assists on population matters.
Ms Rajah will now address us.