Published Date: 25 June 2001

"Challenge to our Scholars - Alignment with MAS' Mission and Values"

Speech by DPM Lee Hsien Loong, Chairman MAS at MAS Scholarship Ceremony 2001

Date: 25 Jun 2001


1   I am very happy to be here this afternoon for the MAS scholarships presentation. This ceremony is to present scholarship awards to 13 promising youths, and to celebrate their becoming a part of the MAS community. To each of the new scholars, their families and educators, I offer my warmest congratulations. You have done well.


2   MAS' mission is to promote sustained and non-inflationary economic growth and a sound and progressive financial services sector. To carry out this mission, we need to assemble a talented, motivated and hard-working team.  The phrase "People are our greatest assets" is not a cliché but a vital fact of life  In this regard, the MAS undergraduate scholarship is a key part of our overall strategy to attract, develop and retain talent.  Through the scholarships, we identify and secure some of the most promising talent from each year's cohort of pre-university students.

3   This year, we received a total of 720 scholarship applications, 15% more than last year. On the whole the quality of the applicants was better than usual. This year many more applicants had distinguished themselves, both in co-curricular activities as well as in their academic results. 

4   As a result, this year we have harvested a more diverse group of scholarship recipients.  They display among them a wide range of talents and interests, as can be seen by their participation and achievements outside the classroom.  We have scholars who are sportsmen, musicians, debaters, artists and humanitarian volunteers.  Their diversity is also reflected in their choice of academic disciplines.  Besides Economics, which has been the subject pursued by many of our past scholars, several of this year's recipients will be pursuing courses in Engineering, International Relations, Public Policy, Finance and Law. 

5   This augurs well for MAS. Diversity in the educational and cultural background of our people will help MAS to have broader perspectives on issues, tackle problems using different mindsets, and cross-fertilise ideas from different disciplines.  We must draw synergies from a diverse pool of talent, in order to build an organisation that is more than the sum of its parts.

6   Just in case those of you who have chosen non-economic disciplines harbour any lingering doubts that you may opted for the wrong course or the wrong organisation, let me assure you that in MAS, those who have studied subjects like Engineering or Law are in no way disadvantaged compared to those educated in the fields of Economics or Finance.

7   In the past, scholars and recruits who have studied Engineering have done well in MAS. Several occupy senior leadership positions responsible for Financial Supervision, Economics, Monetary or Reserves Management, making significant contribution to the organisation. Of course they are no longer purely engineers. They have learnt a great deal about economics and markets since joining MAS, and so must you. But their first degree in another discipline has made them more than economists or financial analysts. In just the same way, we place those who graduate in economics or finance in a range of functions in MAS, not just the Economics Department. What is critical is to allow every officer to learn and grow on the job continually, pick up knowhow in new areas, exchange ideas and contribute to collective knowledge in the organisation.


8   With a strong team in MAS, we can make progress towards realising our vision to build a central bank of excellence.  We want to establish Singapore as a major financial centre in Asia and an important node in the global network of financial markets.

9   We have done much over the years towards this goal, but it is still an uphill task. Our domestic market is small. Our region is currently mired in economic and political uncertainties.  In addition to these constraints, we are faced with broad challenges that arise from (1) a more volatile global economy, (2) a rapidly evolving global financial landscape, and (3) global competition for the best talents available.

10   The first two of these challenges can be tackled through careful choices in strategies and policies.  But to prevail in the third challenge - the competition for talent - we need more than just strategies and policies.  How do we commit talented Singa­poreans to the nation, to get them to contribute to its growth and progress?  How do we convince you that despite the achievements and prosperity that we have attained since independence, it is still vital for you to play your part in nation-building, and to make Singapore the best home for yourselves and your children? There are no easy answers, but I hope that your presence here today to receive the MAS scholarships is an indication that we have made significant progress towards this goal.


11   I offer you this challenge: Visualise yourselves as the future architects and engineers of Singapore's financial services industry.  For the next few years, your preoccupations will primarily revolve around your studies, and for the men, your national service commitments.  Pursue these activities wholeheartedly and achieve excellence in them, as we know you are capable of doing. But at the same time prepare yourself, intellectually and psychologically, for serious responsibilities ahead. To do well in the public service, you must have a personal sense of mission, a conviction that you have a role to play, and that you too can make a contribution to Singapore's success in the global economy. That must come from within yourself.

12   Not only is it a prestigious award that recognises your academic excellence, it is also a reflection of our confidence and trust in you, and our hope that you will in time play a significant leadership role in MAS. MAS' core values are integrity, enterprise, teamwork and commitment. I hope you will internalise these corporate values, and integrate them with your personal goals, beliefs and values. Then you will find your association with MAS, first as a scholar and then as a member of our team, fulfilling and rewarding.

13   As you embark on your university studies, I encourage you to amass new experiences and forge new friendships.  You are fortunate and privileged enough to have the world as your oyster. But I hope that after experiencing the challenges, joys and excitements of an undergraduate education, and exploring the wide world, you will discover for yourself that your pearl lies here in Singapore.  I wish you all the best in your challenges ahead.