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Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At SIM University Convocation 2012

Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At SIM University Convocation 2012, 9.30am on 2 October 2012 At SIM University

Guest-of-Honour, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Finance;
Professor Cham Tao Soon, Chancellor, UniSIM;
Members, SIM University Board of Trustees;
Graduands, parents and families;
Distinguished guests, colleagues and friends; 

I am very happy to welcome all of you to the SIM University Convocation!

  1. This year's convocation will see a total of 1,838 graduands presented over five ceremonies.
  1. Among them are our pioneer batches from the undergraduate programmes in Malay Language and Literature, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Aerospace Systems, and Business with Military Studies. We are also pleased to have with us this morning the graduands from our Master programmes in Counselling, Environmental Science, Social Work, Taxation and Urban Transport Management.
  1. Graduands, we know that it has not been easy having to work and attend classes during the evenings and even weekends, but all of you have succeeded. Congratulations! You join the ranks of more than 18,000 alumni of SIM University, or UniSIM, who have passed our rigorous requirements.
  1. In the last year, UniSIM successfully forged or renewed partnerships with Accenture, AECOM, the Construction Industry Joint Committee, Motorola Solutions, NCS, People's Association, Pico Art International, Singapore Armed Forces, ST Electronics and ST Kinetics. Partnerships with such key industry players help to ensure that our programmes and teaching are industry-relevant and the learning is practitioner-based, guided by our 'Learn Today, Apply Tomorrow' approach.

  1. Our Bachelor of Accountancy programme has been accredited by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, or ACRA with effect from May this year, giving our graduates the same qualification requirement towards registration as a public accountant as that enjoyed by accountancy graduates from NTU, NUS and SMU.

  1. Earlier this year, we set up the UniSIM Centre for Chinese Studies to further interest and scholarly work in Chinese language, literature, culture and society. We have also embarked on R&D in flagship areas that include Gerontology, Human Factors in Technology Integration, Service Excellence and Technology-assisted Learning.

  1. Since 2008, our students have been benefitting from the tuition fee subsidy which the Ministry of Education generously made available to eligible Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents on undergraduate studies at UniSIM. This is a privilege extended only to UniSIM students out of the thousands who study for their degrees outside of the publicly-funded university sector. We, particularly our students, are heartened and gratified by this strong endorsement and recognition of UniSIM's programmes and qualifications.

  1. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong further endorsed UniSIM when he announced during his National Day Rally speech on 26 August that UniSIM has been chosen to mount full-time programmes, enjoying public funding for these programmes, just like the autonomous universities do in Singapore. This is a privilege and honour that will spur us on to provide high-quality university education to our people, not only for adult learners, but now, also for young school leavers.

  1. We are also honoured that President Tony Tan Keng Yam has accepted the invitation to be the Patron of UniSIM. We look forward to his guidance just as how former President S R Nathan, whom he succeeds as Patron, had steadfastly supported us over the years.

  1. We have adopted the butterfly motif as the icon for this year's Convocation theme, 'Success in Motion'. The butterfly is a graceful insect, and a very useful one. Many have colourful wings that enchant, but their most important function is to carry pollen from one flower to another, without which the process of pollination is not complete, and many plants will become extinct. In some cultures, butterflies are a symbol of knowledge and wisdom as their act of pollination is related to how wise men and women spread their wisdom and knowledge from person to person and help them grow.

  1. This imparting of knowledge, the pollination for growth and reproduction, is something which we at UniSIM do as a university. But an education at UniSIM goes beyond just the sharing of information. The knowledge, life experiences, skills and values we create, transfer or promote will influence and even shape the future of the Singapore society. This is the role that each and every one of you can play as you go about your daily lives. Like the butterfly, you carry the knowledge, innovation and mindset you have gained while pursuing your degree at UniSIM into your workplace, your neighbourhood, into our society.

  1. There is another feature about the life of a butterfly – it represents change and transformation. How so? The butterfly's life is one of transformation through the process of metamorphosis. The pupa is the final stage of metamorphosis – this is an unattractive phase before the beautiful butterfly emerges, but one in which tremendous and wondrous change occurs. If someone breaks the pupa earlier than programmed, the butterfly will not be well-formed and may not even fly. The pupa phase is usually in weeks, some in months, and after sufficient time for development, the butterfly needs that special effort to break free to fly. The pupa phase is like your time in UniSIM – a formation stage when you will be strengthened each time as you finish a course of study, when you needed to prove your academic abilities and meet our standards. That, and the exertion that the fully-formed butterfly makes to break free of the pupa, epitomise the great effort you have put in to persevere and complete your degree. You have had to make sacrifices, overcome challenges, sharpen your time management and multi-tasking skills and through the process, build up your resilience and determination to finish your programme.

  1. And now, you are out! Like the freedom the new airborne butterfly enjoys, you have gained new-found capability to advance yourselves on graduating with a UniSIM degree. We are sending you out! Waste no time – apply yourself with confidence, apply yourself to build a better world all around you, touching lives. Thousands of you from UniSIM will serve as teachers, social workers, professional counsellors, HR specialists, early childhood educators, accountants, business specialists, psychologists, supply chain managers, electronic engineers, aerospace MRO specialists, IT and multi-media personnel, and in many more capacities. As UniSIM graduates, you have the opportunity to impact our society deep and wide. I urge you to do just that!

  1. So, with this call, let me conclude. This is your day – may it be a truly memorable occasion, may it be the beginning of a new and fulfilling chapter of your life and career. My colleagues at UniSIM and I salute you and wish you every success ahead!

  1. Thank you.

  1. Today, we are honoured to have Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as our Guest-of-Honour. He has been most supportive of UniSIM in its journey and in helping us achieve our vision to serve society through excellence in flexible learning for adults.

  1. Mr Tharman spent much of his earlier professional life at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, or MAS, where he was Chief Executive before entering politics. In May 2011, he was appointed Chairman of MAS.

  1. Elected to Parliament at the 2001 General Election, Mr Tharman has served in various ministries including Finance, Trade & Industry and Manpower. He has significant involvement in education – as Minister for Education from 2003 to 2008, Chairman of the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute and the Singapore Indian Development Association (or SINDA).

  1. DPM Tharman has been a strong proponent of quality education for Singapore's adult population. Not only did he play a key role in the 2005 formation of UniSIM, he extended the Post-Secondary Education Account to UniSIM students in 2007. He also introduced government fee subsidies for students undertaking part-time undergraduate degree programmes, like yourself, in 2008.

  1. Deputy Prime Minister, our students, our alumni, our staff, our supporters and I would like to say “Thank you” for being a generous and strong advocate of UniSIM.

  1. It is with great pleasure that I now invite DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam to deliver his address. Deputy Prime Minister, please.

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