Speech by Dr Maliki Osman, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs

09 Nov 2018

SUTD President Professor Chong Tow Chong,
Distinguished Guests,
Faculty Members and Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good afternoon to all of you.

I am very happy to join you here today at this beautiful campus to launch the SUTD Campus-in-Bloom. I am happy to be here both as the local Member of Parliament as well as the Mayor of the South East District.

Trees are of special significance to our city state.  They are an important foundation for a livable and sustainable city, and provide us with a multitude of environmental, social and economic benefits.

As a small and densely populated country, trees improve our urban environment, helps us fight climate change, increase urban biodiversity and enhance community well-being.

We have a long history of green efforts.  55 years ago in 1963, our then Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew started the Tree Planting campaign to make Singapore a clean and green country. And we continue with this tradition of tree planting every year throughout Singapore.

Today, Singapore is one of the cities in the world with the highest tree densities.  In total, there are about two million trees planted along roadsides, in parks and state land.  It is no wonder that Singapore is known internationally as a Garden City. And we are well on the way to achieving our new vision of being A City in a Garden.

As our nation progresses, sustainable development remains as important as ever.  The Government is committed to this cause, and we have put in place several initiatives to encourage greater awareness of green issues, such as encouraging recycling, promoting energy-efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, building more environmentally-friendly hawker centres, and developing a green economy.

Ultimately, we strive to be more than just a green and livable city but also a SMART Nation.  In the pursuit of scientific excellence, the Government has dedicated significant resources and funding to research and innovation.

Singapore will need strong Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, capabilities as we progress in the next 50 years.  Building greener homes, expanding our public transport networks, and re-imagining Singapore requires expertise and skills in engineering, technology and design.  This begins with investing in our future generation.

SUTD is one such institution that is aligned to our Smart Nation goals.  It was set up in 2009, with an innovative pedagogy, a design-centric curriculum and a hands-on, practical approach to learning.  This unique approach has borne fruits – SUTD has since graduated four cohorts – its graduates received highly positive employer feedback, strong employment rates and competitive salaries.  In a recent study conducted by MIT, SUTD topped the list of emerging engineering schools in the world.  A very good report card for a young university.

Just last week, I visited SUTD together with my good friend, Brunei’s Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah.  We were impressed by the many demonstrations of technology, design and innovation at this young university, such as the eco-car, drones, and 3D printing.  Even more remarkable is the creativity and passion of these technically grounded students at SUTD, to improve lives and meet the world’s challenges by solving real-world issues.

Everyone has a role to play and we have to work together to advance Singapore.

I am heartened that SUTD has taken a meaningful approach to encourage good stewardship of education and our environment through the SUTD Campus-in-Bloom.

I am particularly encouraged to learn that 26 individuals and organisations have pledged a donation to support this cause, to invest in our future generation and to contribute to our sustainable development.

The tall trees that provide canopy along our parks and gardens do not appear overnight.  To the donors, I applaud your foresight in adopting these young trees on campus here – the trees signify opportunities for our young talent.  Just as the trees grow to maturity and give shade over time, so will our future leaders develop and contribute to our community. 

To the students, be like a tree – stay grounded, connect with your roots, and keep growing.  As you move through your university years, remember your campus and your surroundings.  Think about your impact on the environment and society, and how you can take steps to improve it.  Education is the most powerful enabler to change the world.

I also welcome closer collaboration between SUTD and our local community organizations and the South East CDC as we reach out to Singaporeans on such critical issues as saving the environment and other issues.

We all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.  Thank you to everyone for making Singapore and the world a little healthier and greener for the next generation.

I wish you an enjoyable evening ahead.

Thank you.