Singapore Government Press Release
Media Division, Ministry of Information and The Arts,
36th Storey, PSA Building, 460 Alexandra Road, Singapore 119963.
SPEECH BY DPM LEE HSIEN LOONG
AT THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY HOMECOMING CARNIVAL OF HWA CHONG JUNIOR COLLEGE ON SUNDAY, 30 MAY 1999, 10.00 AM
1. Twenty-five years is a milestone age in the life of an institution. It is a time to celebrate the past, reflect on the present, and make plans for the future.
2. Hwa Chong was founded in 1974 as the first government-aided junior college. The College was established through the combined efforts of the Ministry of Education and a group of public-spirited community leaders including members of the School Management Committee of The Chinese High School. Hence, your Chinese name "Hua Zhong", signifying your close relationship with The Chinese High School.
3. When Hwa Chong was founded, Singapore was in its early years of nationhood. Then, our per capita income was only about $5,000. Less than 5% of each Primary 1 cohort made it to university. Today, our per capita income is close to $40,000, comparable to many developed countries, and 22% of each Primary 1 cohort make it to university. Singapore has made significant progress in the space of twenty-five years, as has Hwa Chong Junior College.
4. The pioneer batch of Hwa Chong students did not have a campus of their own, when they first started. They had to use the National Junior College campus, and later, the then Singapore University campus, before the College finally moved into its present Bukit Timah campus in early July 1974. Today, students and staff enjoy some of the best facilities of any junior college in Singapore. Your current re-developed campus not only has new lecture theatres, classrooms and laboratories, but also the largest and most comprehensive library among all junior colleges in Singapore.
5. I congratulate the College for its outstanding achievements over the past twenty-five years. Hwa Chong students have consistently topped the GCE �A� level examination. Over the years you have produced 35 President scholars, and many more SAF, PSC, statutory board and private sector scholars, who have done the College proud. Many alumni have gone on to leadership positions in government, business and as well as the people sector. Others have distinguished themselves in many ways, like our Asian Game Gold Medallist, Dr Benedict Tan, the author and songwriter, Liang Wen Fu, and Mr David Lim, leader and principal fund raiser of the Mount Everest Expedition team.
6. Hwa Chong has retained its strong Chinese cultural heritage. Your ECAs promote Chinese culture through Drama, Calligraphy and Painting, and Dance and Orchestra. Chinese New Year and the Mid Autumn festival are celebrated with gusto.
7. But at the same time, Hwa Chong has evolved over the years to become more cosmopolitan. You have opened your doors to students of all nationalities. Today, foreign students make up 11% of the total college enrolment, the highest among all JCs. They come from nearby ASEAN countries, and as far away as China, Taiwan and India. These students � many of whom hold scholarships � add to the vibrancy of the College, and help enrich the educational experience of Singaporean students.
8. I understand that the SIA-sponsored scholars from India have enabled the College to field its first-ever Cricket team, which won the National Schools Championship this year. The Vice-President of the present Students� Council is an Indian citizen. And the President of the Council last year was a young lady of Indian descent. This is remarkable and commendable, considering that Hwa Chong�s strong Chinese cultural roots. It reflects the understanding and trust between students of different ethnic groups in the College.
9. Hwa Chong has shown that schools can strike that balance between nurturing students to be good citizens in multi-racial, cosmopolitan Singapore, and preserving their traditional Chinese character. Our SAP schools also recognise this, and will do more to promote understanding and appreciation of multi-racialism among their students.
10. Parliament has recently endorsed the recommendations of the Singapore 21 Committee chaired by RAdm Teo Chee Hean. The S21 report sets out a vision for Singapore in the twenty-first century, in which every Singaporean has a part to play.
11. How can Hwa Chong contribute to this vision? S21 touches every Singaporean. Every one of us should think about the issues, decide what sort of Singapore we want to live in, and take responsibility for our shared future. High achievers, like Hwa Chong students and alumni, have a proportionately larger responsibility.
12. Hwa Chong alumni have a strong college spirit, as a result of the shared experience of college life, and emotional attachment to Hwa Chong. Ex-students identify with Hwa Chong even when they are overseas. For example, ex-students in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland congregate in London annually for the Hwa Chong Night, and will be launching the UK Chapter of the Hwa Chong JC Alumni this year.
13. The active participation and contribution by Hwa Chong alumni to the college 25th Anniversary celebration, including today�s carnival and fund raising Jogathon, is another illustration of active citizenry at the college level. This is the spirit of togetherness that the S21 idea of the Singapore heartbeat seeks to strengthen.
14. Your College vision: "Live with Passion, Lead with Compassion", is an apt guideline for life in Singapore in the 21st century. Live with Passion. Pursue your interests. Be the best that you can be. And Lead with Compassion. Understand your fellow Singaporeans. Value their contributions. Work together to build a better home for all of us.
15. I hope you will live up to this vision, so that Hwa Chong will continue to be as successful as it has been in the last twenty-five years, and will thus contribute actively to realising the Singapore 21 vision.
16. I wish the College a happy birthday and many more to come.