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​NTU President's Speech at Alumni Homecoming 2019

Published on: 19-Oct-2019

Speech by

Professor Subra Suresh
President, Nanyang Technological University

NTU Alumni Night 2019

Saturday, 19 Oct 2019
Nanyang Auditorium



Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry & Ministry of Education
Alumni, colleagues, students, 
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure joining so many of our alumni as they return to their alma mater for the annual alumni homecoming. Welcome home, alumni!

We are honoured to have with us this evening, Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry & Ministry of Education. Thank you for taking time from your schedule to join us here tonight.

Today is a day of celebration. Earlier this afternoon, we held a special ceremony to commemorate the renaming of the building that houses the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences to acknowledge the contribution of the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan. In addition, Nanyang Valley, a road that embraces the historic Nanyang Lake, will be renamed Tan Lark Sye Walk. 

The naming of these two features is especially timely and meaningful in Singapore’s bicentennial year.

The naming of the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan building and Tan Lark Sye Walk acknowledge the historic contribution of our local communities toward Singapore’s tertiary education development. Their legacy should not be forgotten by future generations of Singaporeans as we revel in the progress that Singapore has made in her education journey, with two top-ranked universities that are among the world's best, and a strong research, innovation and education ecosystem that is the envy of the world, and that other countries aspire to emulate.

Tonight, as we celebrate your homecoming, we are pleased to recognise the achievements of our outstanding alumni. These well deserving alumni will be receiving the Nanyang Alumni Awards in a short while. Through their career achievements and engagement with the university and the community, these alumni have set a standard to which our students and fellow alumni can aspire.

This year’s recipients have made positive impact in various fields such as the literary arts, business, community and public service. Mr Suratman Markasan, Mr Thomas Chua and Mr Zaqy Mohamad will receive the Nanyang Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honour for NTU alumni.

Mr Suratman Markasan, who graduated in 1971 from the Arts faculty at Nanyang University, has achieved extraordinary milestones as one of Singapore’s Malay language literary pioneers. He has published several poetry collections and novels, in some of which he comments about the Malay experience in Singapore, addressing issues from filial piety to displacement.

Mr Suratman has received numerous awards, most notably, the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest honour in the arts, for his contributions to Singapore literature in 2010.

Mr Thomas Chua, our Nantah alumnus from the Class of 1979 is the Chairman and Managing Director of Teckwah, a supply chain management and digital services provider listed on the SGX since 1994. He has successfully transformed Teck Wah from a simple paper boxes maker, to an international supply chain group.

He previously served as the President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and as a Nominated Member of Parliament, among other appointments on the boards of government, industry and community organisations. 

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, our alumnus from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering as well as from Nanyang Business School, is the Minister of State, at the Ministry of National Development & Ministry of Manpower, and the Deputy Government Whip. Mr Zaqy is a strong advocate of an inclusive and caring society that enables workers to thrive and achieve their full potential. 

Outside the political sphere, Mr Zaqy has enjoyed a successful career in consulting and technology firms such as Arthur Andersen, IBM, Dimension Data (NTT Group) and Ernst & Young. He was a Partner at Ernst & Young before taking political office in 2018.

Mr Suratman, Mr Thomas Chua and Mr Zaqy Mohamad are among the 39 eminent alumni whom we are honouring tonight. They bring tremendous distinction to the University as business and community leaders, public servants and strong supporters of the University.

Today, NTU has more than 244,000 alumni in 162 countries. We have established 94 alumni associations in Singapore and overseas, to better engage and connect with our global NTU alumni. At the same time, we have also set up 24 Alumni Circles in countries or cities with small numbers of alumni.

Over the past year, I have had pleasant meetings with our alumni based in cities such as Seoul, Jakarta and Chennai. I was also at the launch of our NTU Alumni Association in Germany and most recently, the NTU China Convocation, 7th NTU China Alumni Conference and Alumni Dinner in Hangzhou, China. At these overseas gatherings, I was impressed by our alumni’s strong camaraderie, their desire to succeed and their commitment to support NTU in its advancement.

You will be proud to know that your alma mater has been gaining international recognition. Most recently, it broke into the top 50 of the world's best universities in this year's Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 

Within the past year, NTU has climbed to its highest position in every major international league table. The US News and World Report not only listed NTU among the global top 50 universities for the first time last year, but also placed NTU in the world’s top five in four major subject areas: engineering, materials science, computer science, and chemistry.

UK-based Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings this year have ranked NTU at its highest position at 48th and 11th, respectively, among the world’s leading universities. 

NTU has established a strong name for itself among the world community. For example, in January this year, NTU, together with NUS, hosted Singapore’s inaugural panel and reception event alongside the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Focusing on the theme “Globalisation 4.0: Technology & Innovation for Humanity”, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Mr Lim Chow Kiat, Chief Executive Officer of sovereign wealth fund GIC and who is also our NBS alumnus and alumni awardee, Professor Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Canada’s McGill University, and Mr Dion Weisler, President & Chief Executive Officer of HP Inc. participated in the session.

The panel discussed how Singapore is addressing the challenges of Industry 4.0, and promoting a new “Globalisation 4.0” that will shape the growth of ASEAN, Asia and beyond, over the remaining course of the 21st century.

The University is also deepening its research expertise to address the world’s most complex challenges, such as energy, food security, cybersecurity and climate change. Our passion for learning, research and knowledge creation has drawn more than 200 companies, including global leaders such as HP Inc., Rolls-Royce and Alibaba to set up labs on our campus and work with our faculty and students on technologies that will make an impact on the future.  

The Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Laboratory, established in 2013, was Singapore’s first corporate lab in a university. We have completed our first five years of partnership and have begun the next five-year phase with an S$88 million joint investment. Phase 2 will see another 29 projects initiated, with the aim of developing novel technologies that will power future aircraft. 

NTU’s rapid progress would not have been possible without the accomplishments, support and commitment of our alumni. We have come so far, because of your belief in NTU and your dedication to give back to the University.

While you take the initiative and proactively utilise your own resources to support your alma mater in its advancement, your alma mater too provides support for you to fulfil your needs such as career development, professional growth and business opportunities.

An exhibition on lifelong learning, organised by NTU’s Centre for Professional and Continuing Education, together with the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technopreneurship Center, and Nanyang Business School, was held earlier this afternoon. You would have also earlier seen a short presentation of what these Schools can offer to support your lifelong learning needs. The corporate world is continuously evolving, with industries and jobs expanding at a rapid rate. Job descriptions change and skill sets that used to be needed for a particular job may not be enough nowadays. Hence, we need to keep up with the fast pace of the industry we are in. 

I hope you take some time after the ceremony to view the exhibition and learn of the various lifelong learning and continuing education avenues made available to our alumni. On this note, do remember that all NTU and NIE alumni have S$1,600 worth of NTU Alumni Course Credits which may be utilised to apply for all Continuing Education Training (CET) courses offered by all NTU-CET units.

Before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to extend the University’s appreciation to Mr Soon Min Yam, the founding Director of NTU Alumni Affairs, for his tireless efforts and hard work during the past 15 years. He will be retiring end of this month to enjoy a good break he so rightfully deserves. 

Min Yam is an NTU alumnus himself, from Nanyang University’s Class of 1975 and is no stranger to us in the University and to our alumni. Amongst his many other accomplishments while leading NTU’s Alumni Affairs Office, Min Yam has been instrumental in  setting up more than 50 overseas alumni chapters, including 30 in China. This, I believe is the largest number of overseas chapters set up by any foreign university in China. 

The years Min Yam has worked here have been marked by unsurpassed efficiency and excellence. Thanks to him, we now have a very strong alumni relations foundation. I wish Min Yam, a happy retirement and I do hope he will continue to stay connected with NTU. I am happy to announce that our Nanyang Business School alumnus, Mr Th’ng Beng Hooi will be assuming the role of Director of NTU Alumni Affairs.

In closing, I would like to encourage all our alumni to work with us as we chart NTU’s next chapter of growth. A university is distinguished not only by the calibre of its faculty and students, but also its alumni. Whether you are serving in the various University committees, giving guidance as a mentor, providing work attachment opportunities to students, or simply participating in the University’s activities and initiatives, your support plays an important part in shaping NTU to be a great global university.

Congratulations once again, to all of this year’s Nanyang Alumni Awards recipients.

Thank you and I wish everyone a very pleasant evening.



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