SPEECH BY MR THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM,MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND SECOND MINISTER FOR FINANCE, AT CEDAR GIRLS' 50TH ANNIVERSARY GOLDEN JUBILEE DINNER, 19 MAY 2007, 7.00 PM
Mrs Ou Yang Geok Cheng, Principal, Cedar Girls� Secondary School,
Mr Simon Ong, Chairman, School Advisory Committee,
Mdm Lily Tan, Chairman, Home School Link Committee,
Ms Louise Lim, President of the Alumni,
Distinguished Guests, Teachers, Parents and Students
1. It gives me great pleasure to be here this evening to join you in celebrating Cedar Girls� Secondary School�s 50th Anniversary. It is heartening to see so many of you who have, in one way or another, contributed to the making an outstanding Singapore school.
2. When anyone thinks of Cedar Girls�, they think of all-round excellence. Cedar Girls� identity is marked by its students� determination, sense of self-discipline and achievements, in both the academic field and in sporting and other co-curricula pursuits. It is a tradition that began early in Cedar, and has been reinforced since it became Autonomous in 1996. Obtaining the School Excellence Award in 2006 is recognition of the school�s consistent effort towards all-round development of its students, and its becoming a dynamic organisation that brings out the best in its people.
A Tradition of Sporting Excellence
3. In 1972, Cedar Girls� became the first government school to have a bitumen track. The track was built at a cost of $250 000, through a special fund-raising effort. It was a significant event for Cedar because it had already produced top state athletes like Maimoon Bakar, A. Latchemy and Jeanette Gaffney. Names that register immediately with those in athletic circles.
4. The school�s iconic status in athletics has endured. This year, Cedar Girls� distinguished itself yet again when Tay Sze Min of Sec 4H became the National Age group record holder for the 100m hurdles. She broke a 13-year-old record in April during the National Age Group Track and Field Championship. But Cedar�s track success has also become a metaphor for all the qualities that its students demonstrate � passion, conviction, integrity.
5. As Cedar Girls� undergoes the Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing Schools (PRIME) next year, a new track will serve as a reminder of the history and tradition the school has inherited. It will also serve as an inspiration to students to do even better with the opportunities they have been given.
Leaders of Character for a Global World
6. Apart from grooming sporting excellence, the school is also committed to nurturing leaders of character. This is seen in its efforts to build a new generation of young leaders � leaders who lead not only by example, but who have the drive to pursue their passion, and the desire to make a difference.
7. Many Cedarians from past cohorts are making a difference in their current roles today. Mdm Ngian Lek Choh, Deputy Chief Executive/Director at National Library, appreciates the opportunities she had to hone her discipline and skills as a leader and team player during her time in Cedar. As Head Prefect of the Class of 1969, Lek Choh learned much in public speaking and how to supervise and coach fellow prefects and younger students in the school. These lessons helped her become one of the top students in Singapore for the 1969 Cambridge Overseas School Certificate Examination. As Director of the public libraries, she has helped to transform the National Library. (She is now leading a team in developing a seamless reference enquiry service that will help librarians answer enquiries from library users on anything they are researching on. This can be done via any internet-enabled device, including the handphone and PDA.)
8. Another example is Ms Doreen Chan. As a student, she had to travel all the way from the west to attend school and had great difficulties getting to school on time. The Principal then, Mrs Tan Peck Chai, advised her to show her commitment to the school and figure out the best way to turn up on time every day; otherwise, she would have to consider transferring to a school nearer her home. So she tested out different bus routes and compared their travel times. She even hitched a ride from a passing police patrol car one morning! Since her school days, she has started toy libraries in Singapore to cater to children from diverse backgrounds and provide them with a safe environment to develop friendship and strengthen their character through play. Today, she is the Administrative Manager at the IMF Regional Training Institute and will soon be leaving for Washington to head the IMF�s largest area office, overseeing Africa. It is her dream that one day she will be able to open a chain of toy libraries throughout Asia and Africa.
9. The next Cedarians I want to mention are sisters, Mdm Heng Tung Hwa, an accountant, and Dr Heng Tung Lan, an Obstetrics & Gynaecology specialist. They both remember the high standards of discipline emphasised at Cedar. Tung Hwa was a member of the brass band and Prefect while Tung Lan was the Vice-Head Prefect and an active member of NPCC. Both sisters recall how the school values -- integrity, resilience and respect -- were instilled in them while they were in school and how the indomitable Cedarian spirit of togetherness and determination have left an indelible mark on them and continue to see them through their own respective careers in public accounting, and medical practice. Tung Hwa is still very actively involved with the school, both in the alumni and as a member of the school�s advisory board.
10. These are just some of the Cedarians, among many others, who have and will continue to make a difference in society.
11. Cedar Girls� has positioned itself well in our changing educational landscape. The school strides confidently as it fulfils its mission of nurturing leaders of character, people who have what it takes to break new ground both locally and beyond our shores, and who want to serve.
12. I would like to urge the present generation of Cedarians to seize the numerous opportunities that the school is creating for you to learn and grow, so that you will each discover your own potential, and step forward as young Singaporeans with the courage and confidence to embrace the opportunities of a global world.
13. I would like to commend all in the Cedar family for your contributions to making this school a leader in education. I encourage you to build on your strengths to forge ahead, while upholding your values and principles. My congratulations once again on your 50th Anniversary, and as you continue on your journey of learning and excellence.