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Keynote Address by Ho Ching, Executive Director and CEO, Temasek Holdings, at ST Engineering's 50th Anniversary Ceremony

ST Engineering Hub

26 January 2017

Good afternoon,

Your Excellencies,
Peter, Boon, Pheng Hock, Lai Chun Loong,
All the various pioneers,
I see Lui Pao Chuen there as well,
And also to Chong Seng and Vincent,
Friends, colleagues,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen.

50 years is a very good number. For those of us who are over 50, we console ourselves that once you cross 50, you get younger every year. And for those who are under 50, I can tell you that you have a greater chance today than ever to see the 100th anniversary of ST Engineering (ST Engg) in the years ahead.

Tomorrow, as you saw just now, is the 50th anniversary of ST Engineering.

The original mothership of ST Engingeering is the Chartered Industries of Singapore, or CIS, for short. This was formed in 1967 in our early years of independence. CIS was then very much part of our collective will to overcome the odds and survive as a new nation.

Today, Singapore Technologies Engineering, or ST Engineering, for short, is home to CIS and our key engineering and defence related companies. This has given us the breadth, the depth and the heft for well over a decade to take on new opportunities in the world. Today, ST Engineering is a well regarded international engineering and defence player.

At the same time, the goal remains unchanged. ST Engineering is still very much part of our collective will in Singapore to overcome the odds and to thrive in a fast changing and globalised world.

Over the years, especially the pioneers will remember, we have seen many ups and downs in ST Engineering. But you have come far. You have built rich capabilities in aerospace, electronics, land, naval and fibre sectors. You have served not just the SAF in Singapore, but also many other customers around the world, in both defence as well as commercial and civilian sectors.

During SARS in 2003, ST Electronics was the first in the world, and the fastest, to convert its thermal imagers for public fever scanning at mass events. This helped to calm the public around Asia. After the severe haze in 2013 from the massive forest fires in Indonesia, a friend called me to ask if we could do something to help. He said, “Look, your ST folks came up with the thermal scanner solution so quickly during SARS. Can they get something done to protect our school kids from haze?”

And whom else could I turn to, but our engineers in ST Engineering? 

So I’m very supportive of your tagline, “Engineering with Passion”.

Today, the Air+ Smart mask, along with its companion micro-fan ventilator, is a recognised world-leading product – it remains the only certified N95 mask solution in the world for school- aged children, with and without the micro-fan.

In the early days, as you’ve seen in the slide just now, we’ve developed and produced solutions for the SAF without fanfare, from upgraded tanks, planes to training simulators, and a host of other solutions. I remember the deep disappointment that one team felt when they heard the decision not to parade the new artillery system for one of Singapore’s national day march pasts. And I just saw a glimpse of the FH-88 on the slides just now. Thank you for remembering that. 

So, years later, in 2015, as I sat in the audience during the Golden Jubilee National Day Parade, I could feel the pride that all of you in ST Engineering must have felt when a whole host of your SAF green systems came rolling by one by one in majestic formation. 

Hence, on this 50th anniversary, I would like to say a big thank you to all the ST Engineering folks, past and present. You have contributed so much to make ST Engineering a key component of our defence capabilities in Singapore. You have given your all, and for that, I thank you!

All of you can also stand proud of your innovations and contributions over the last five decades – you’ve made a real difference whether in the area of defence systems or in helping make lives better, in and outside of Singapore: from the Warthog which saved several lives for the British Army, to the TeLEOS-1 imaging satellite for Singapore; from the patrol vessels for the Royal Navy of Oman, to the N95 mask to protect kids from haze and pollution around the world. 

As we build on these successes, we must always remember our core purpose – to make a difference in the lives of our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, and our soldiers. A mistake as simple as a wrongly assembled fuze can have serious consequences – including the painful loss of precious life.

As we look to the future, we must also remember that others have opened up new paths, and sweated the course before us. We would be most short-sighted if we are glib in our assessment of the trade-offs and challenges that our predecessors faced. We need to try to understand why decisions had been made the way they were. Only then can we have the wisdom to build on and improve the remarkable heritage of those who came before us. 

Going forward, it is quite straightforward in my mind how you should view the mission of ST Engineering, and your future. There are just three simple words: Singapore, Technologies and Engineering.

Singapore is the root and core of what we are, who we are, and what we stand for, be it good governance, discipline in delivery or integrity in all that we do. 

Technologies are the lifeblood of what we must master and deliver to make lives better for our citizens and soldiers, and for all of ST Engineering’s customers in Singapore and abroad.

Engineering is a calling, always looking to make things better, to design more efficient processes or to build better systems. Engineering is that tireless curiosity, and that endless search for better solutions for a better world. That calling isn’t just meticulous grunt work; it can be fun and exhilarating – just like when your engineering team found a breakthrough for the Airbitat Smart Cooler. This new system delivers 24°C in the humid tropical outdoors without adding heat into the surroundings (It cools even deeper in the drier climates).

We will face a difficult world, perhaps even a disastrous one over the longer term if we do not address global warming or find solutions for sustainable growth. These are common global challenges.

As we strive to deliver today for tomorrow, we must keep an eye on the longer term. We don’t always know today what our future generations will need to make tomorrow, or to decide tomorrow. This is why in all our solutions that we develop today, we must build in flexibility for our future generations to have options and choices.

In conclusion, on this 50th anniversary, I salute the ST Engineering family for all your efforts and wish all of you and your families all the best in the years ahead. Never forget the importance of what you do and the difference that you can make to our people and our country. Even as you do well, I’m very happy to know that you are making sure that you do good as well … and have fun.

Thank you, and a very Happy New Year to all of you.



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