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Speech by RADM (NS) Lui Tuck Yew at the N.E.w Author Award Presentation Ceremony



Dr Hon Chiew Weng, Principal (High School Section), Hwa Chong Institution

Colonel Lim Kok Siong, Director, Nexus, MINDEF

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today to be part of the N.E.w Author - Interactive Digital Book Competition Award Ceremony. I hope all the students enjoyed themselves amidst the intense competition.

2.     Held for the second consecutive year, the digital book competition has garnered enthusiastic responses from 113 schools and 2,009 students. This is a significant increase from last year when 1,400 students from 64 Primary Schools participated in the competition. Through the use of cutting-edge technology, students can freely express what they have learnt and experienced in National Education. In this competition, participants develop a digital story book, making use of various digital resources, such as an image, video, animation and sound, to combine them into an interactive e-book.

Encouraging the adoption of digital media for learning

3.     To spur innovation in the use of Interactive Digital Media (IDM) in Singapore, the Government has set aside $500 million since 2006 to fund the development of a strategic research and development programme for this purpose.

4.     The efforts have seen considerable results. Some of the young IDM start-ups that we have supported are now turning in business revenues of between $10,000 and $30,000 a month. Some of them such as Garena and Fresbo have also garnered many followers in their game applications. Garena now has a user base of 14 million users from 200 countries whilst Fresbo is the top game application in Friendster. KooBits, an interactive online publishing platform developed by Personal e-motion, one of the organisers of this competition, has also benefited from our support schemes. The KooBits tool is now being used across many schools in Singapore and in the Southeast Asian region.

5.     In addition to supporting young start-ups to spur innovation, we are also encouraging the adoption of IDM among our young learners in schools. In 2007, the Ministry of Education embarked on The Future Schools @ Singapore programme starting with five schools. Hwa Chong Institution is also part of this exciting initiative to harness ICT effectively for engaged learning, and to keep our education system and programmes relevant in preparing our students for the future.

Our Past, Present, Future

6.     New media platforms have provided us with engaging ways to encourage our young Singaporeans to express their thoughts on national issues in a fun and interactive manner. This competition is a good example. And its theme "Rising Above Our Challenges" is a very important one. Students of all ages use Koobits to share their personal insights on how Singapore has risen above its challenges and transformed itself from a small fishing village to a modern metropolis.

7.     Some students reflected on our past, specifically on the tumultuous years of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore and the period leading to our country's independence. Others chose to write stories around our national challenges such as how we manage our land and water constraints by coming up with unique solutions. Some teams thought about the choices we make and how they will determine the future of this place we call home.

8.     These stories illustrate that our people have many strengths that put us in a good position to overcome our challenges. Whether in the past, present or future, Singapore has been, and will continue to be able to transform itself into a vibrant global city and make steady progress due to the resilience and determination of our people. This gives us the hope and confidence that we can face whatever challenges that may come our way and build a brighter and better future for ourselves and for the generations to come.

9.     Today is also Racial Harmony Day.This day is symbolic because it reminds us of our pledge to live harmoniously together regardless of race, language or religion. The theme for this year's Racial Harmony Day is "Who's Your Neighbor?" Neighborliness is a community virtue. The challenges that Singapore has surmounted in the past underscore the importance of our cohesiveness as a nation. We have to cherish our multi-racial society if we are to confidently face the challenges of the future. In their teaching of National Education, teachers therefore have a moral responsibility to emphasise to their students this message of 'putting others before ourselves', regardless of race, language or religion. .

10.     Helping one another is made more important in this uncertain climate. With the aid of new media technologies, our students have captured the necessity of promoting a strong community spirit amid a national crisis. And it is for this reason that we should give them our undivided attention.

11.     In closing, I would like to congratulate all our participants of this year's N.E.w Author Digital Book Competition. Regardless of whether you clinched a prize or not, what is more important are the lessons you take away in the course of this competition. You have all put in great effort into creating awesome e-books.

12.     To the organisers and sponsors, your involvement and support have contributed to the success of this year's competition. Allow me to thank and congratulate you.

13.     Thank you.