Published Date: 29 June 2002

Speech by DPM Lee Hsien Loong, Chairman MAS, at MAS Scholarship Ceremony 2002, 29 June 2002, Saturday, 10.30am

'Building a Diverse Talent Pool for MAS'

1   I am very pleased to be here this morning for the MAS scholarships presentation, in the company of the 13 scholarship recipients, their parents and educators.  I offer you all my heartiest congratulations.

2   2001 was a difficult year for Singapore.  The economy plunged into recession, due to a sharp downturn in the global IT sector and deterioration in the external economic environment.  The Government has seized this opportunity to review our policies in order to ensure that our economy can continue to grow in the next phase of our development.  We established an Economic Review Committee (ERC) last November, which is starting to make significant recommendations for change.  Some of the recommendations, particularly in taxation, have been accepted and implemented by the government in the recent budget. More recommendations are in the pipeline, and the government will give each one of them serious consideration.

3   For us to continue to thrive amidst increased global competition, we have to invest continuously in our people, and develop our talent pool to the maximum.  This is why we are introducing greater flexibility in our education system, and a more diverse curriculum in our schools.  We need a national mindset of innovation, to be constantly questioning, constantly experimenting, and constantly challenging old assumptions and ways of doing things, in order to improve, and over time transform the way we work and live.

4   In the financial sector, the rapid pace of change will continue to present regulators and industry players alike with new challenges.  Increasing complexity in our economy and financial sector will also create new challenges in our management of the monetary policy.  At the MAS, our mission remains, i.e. to promote sustained and non-inflationary economic growth and a sound and progressive financial services sector.  The core activities of the MAS, as you are well aware, cover the full spectrum of central banking and regulatory functions.  The MAS undertakes prudential supervision of the financial sector and has a vital promotional role in attracting and retaining major global financial players so that we can continue to grow as a major international financial centre.

5   In the face of these challenges, it is critical for the MAS to build up and replenish our pool of talent, to keep up with the changes in Singapore's financial system and to carry out our functions.  If MAS falls short in its responsibilities, the stability and vibrancy of our financial sector will be affected.  For the MAS then, the award of scholarships is an important element of our human resource development strategy.  Through the scholarships, we develop and groom some of the most promising talent from each year's cohort of pre-university students.  To cover all our diverse and complex functions, we must prepare new generations of MAS officers with the breadth of vision and the depth of skills to take us forward.  We will look to you, our scholarship recipients, to form a significant part of the talent pool that we will have to rely on to take MAS forward.

6   This year's scholarship recipients reflect our commitment to building a diverse pool of talent.  Four out of the 13 recipients will pursue degrees in economics.  Economics is a traditional favourite for MAS scholars, and of course remains highly relevant to anyone aspiring to a career in the MAS.  However, I am also happy that the others have chosen eight different fields of study, including Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Management Sciences, Public Policy, Law, Biology, International Relations, and Philosophy, Politics and Economics. This diversity will in time give the MAS the benefit of a range of perspectives, different approaches to analysing issues and a richer, deeper understanding of our problems.

7   Finally may I wish each of the scholars well as you embark on your studies, and prepare yourself for your duties.  For the next few years, your preoccupations will primarily be your studies, and for the men, your national service commitments.  But while you sweat it out in the SAF, slog through term assignments, and enjoy the non-academic pursuits


of university life, never forget that beyond that lies something more than an assured job.  You have chosen to enter public service after your studies.  This is a serious commitment, not just to the MAS, but also to Singapore.  You will be part of a team that will help to guide and grow our economy and our financial services industry.  The more you demonstrate your capability and commitment, the more challenging the tasks you will be given, and the heavier your responsibility will be.  I wish you all the very best in your future endeavours.