Professor Bertil Andersson
President, Nanyang Technological University Singapore
NATIONAL DAY OBSERVANCE CEREMONY 2017
Canopy Stage @ North Spine, Nanyang Technological University Singapore
Monday, 14 August 2017, 11.30 am
Students, colleagues, friends,
Good morning! It is so good to see all of you here for NTU’s National Day Observance Ceremony! And it looks like the audience here today is at an all-time high, so that’s very good!
As you are aware, this is the final time that I will have the honour of addressing you at our National Day Observance Ceremony as President of NTU.
This is also why it is quite a special moment for me. Coming from Sweden in another continent far, far away, and having lived and worked here for the last decade, I have many fond memories of my time in this “big” and beautiful country called Singapore. Singapore, like NTU and myself, are all still relatively young! Singapore just celebrated her 52nd birthday last week, while NTU is exactly half that age at 26 this year. So NTU has glorified Singapore for half of its existence.
Although I’m only 69 years young, I have seen and experienced many things. Yet, even till today, I remain very impressed by the rapid progress of this nation! I have lived and worked in many big countries and I can say from experience that for a small island-state with absolutely no natural resources except its population and its smart students of about 5.6 million people, Singapore really punches above its weight.
In just 52 years as a nation, Singapore has achieved phenomenal progress in science and technology, research and development, business, finance, informatics, and many other fields. My country Sweden is 934 years old – it’s slightly older! Singapore is also known for its international credibility, high standard of living, excellent infrastructure, technological advancement, and very importantly, social unity.
And of course, Singapore is a global leader in education, with two world-class universities, one of which is of course NTU! And since we are celebrating National Day I should be generous and say the other is NUS! In Asia and beyond, Singapore is often held up as an exemplary model for the rest of the world, especially in higher education and research. With two universities ranked in the global top 15, including NTU as Asia’s highest ranked university in 11th place, Singaporeans have every reason to stand tall and proud this National Day. And I am happy that NTU has played a part in contributing to Singapore’s growth and development.
Maybe there is only one thing that I’m still a little disappointed about. When I came here 11 years ago, I brought my skis but have never been able to use them (because we haven’t had snow here yet) even though we have very nice “ski slopes” over at our beautiful School of Art, Design and Media!
Singapore and NTU are perfect examples of how a nation and institution had humble beginnings, but overcame challenges to become internationally respected and credible! When I arrived here 11 years ago, it wasn’t the same NTU as then, and to be frank, it wasn't even the same Singapore. Things move fast, but its also important to move in the right direction.
Today, we not only celebrate Singapore’s 52nd National Day, but also reflect on the challenges this nation has faced and overcome, and what lies ahead.
Hence, the theme for this year’s National Day is “#OneNationTogether”. The theme “#OneNationTogether” celebrates the people of Singapore who take pride in what has been achieved together, and who care for each other. And together, everyone has a stake in Singapore – to build a good home to raise the future generation, and a home where everyone belongs. Every day, we are reminded in the news that this is not necessarily the case in all countries of the world. So this #OneNationTogether cannot be taken for granted. It has to be defended every day.
At NTU, we can find some of the best lessons and inspiration in many of our own people. They include the professors, lecturers and tutors who selflessly mould and inspire our future leaders, our enterprising researchers, innovators and staff, and of course, our very own alumni and students. I think we should give all of them a round of applause!
This Saturday, we have the NTU Fest, which is happening at The Wave, NTU’s fantastic new sports hall. Capping off Freshmen Welcome Week, NTU Fest is a commendable initiative by our students to bring the NTU community together.
As an event aimed at promoting better understanding among one another, our students are helping to build a stronger and more cohesive Singapore. NTU Fest is also an important part of the University’s plans to forge closer links with residents living in the surrounding heartlands in the South West District and play a bigger role in relations with the local community. I’ve always said Jurong should be proud of NTU, and NTU should be proud of Jurong.
Entry to NTU Fest is free and open to the public, so I strongly encourage everyone here to tell all your friends and family members to come join us at the event. The student organisers have impressively drawn support from a host of corporate sponsors and popular Singapore artistes, so it is going to be a great time for everyone – a big wow factor I must say.
So as Singaporeans and as NTU students, faculty, staff and alumni, we all have much to cheer about on this 52nd National Day. On this note, I wish you all a happy and meaningful National Day.
Majulah Singapura! Majulah NTU!
Thank you very much!