“It has been many years but I remain grateful till this day to my teachers and the La Salle Brothers who taught us to be the best that we can be, to lead useful lives and to contribute to society.”
President Tony Tan made this remark in a speech to about 300 students and educators from various schools at the closing of the second Fullerton-SJI (St Joseph’s Institution) Leadership Lectures at The Fullerton Hotel on Nov 5.
Mr Tan, who had his primary and secondary education in St Patrick’s School and his pre-university education in SJI, said that “in addition to learning life skills and academic knowledge” at these schools, he and fellow students “experienced the meaning of service to the community, the importance of respecting differences of views, and the value of diversity”.
He added that “SJI continues to embrace all members of our community regardless of race, language, creed or religion. SJI students are taught to see themselves as part of a larger community, and to serve all segments of our society.”
The Fullerton-SJI Leadership Lectures are jointly organised by The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and SJI. This second series saw distinguished Lasallian alumni, including local food critic K F Seetoh and jazz musician Jeremy Monteiro, sharing their experiences of leadership.
Mr Arnold Gay later posed questions from the audience, compiled beforehand to Mr Tan.
Mr Gay asked Mr Tan to elaborate on one of the points he had made during his speech, about Singapore needing something more than financial reserves – and that is “social reserves”.
Mr Tan, in his reply, gave the example of the tsunami in Japan during which there was “no looting” and “everyone was looking out for one another”.
In his speech, Mr Tan had said that while “financial reserves are tangible and can be tracked to ensure that it grows, social reserves are intangible and we will only know how much we have when we need to draw on it”.
In his speech, he had also cited the haze period earlier this year, which saw Singaporeans looking out for one another and teams of volunteers distributing masks to those in need.
“While it is the responsibility of the government to operate with financial discipline and fiscal prudence,” he said, “every Singaporean must be involved in growing our social reserves.”
Another question posed to Mr Tan concerned his Lasallian education, specifically how core Lasallian values can “shape a successful generation in Singapore”.
“I believe that the values that the La Salle Brothers taught are timeless,” Mr Tan said. He added that “as you grow older, as I am growing older, you’ll find that these [Lasallian] values become more useful”.
Other topics discussed during the question-and-answer session included the global economy, innovation, research and development.
By Clara Lai