Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen officiated at the virtual Defence Scholarship Awards Ceremony this evening. The awards ceremony saw the presentation of 95 scholarships this year – The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Scholarship to 7 recipients, Public Service Commission (PSC) Scholarship (Engineering) – Defence and Security to 5 recipients, SAF Merit Scholarship to 17 recipients, SAF Engineering Scholarship to 5 recipients, Defence Merit Scholarship to 18 recipients, SAF Medicine Scholarship to 7 recipients, and Defence Science and Technology (DSTA) Scholarship to 36 recipients.
Speaking live at the virtual ceremony, Dr Ng highlighted the record number of scholarships awarded and the high calibre of the scholarship recipients, "This year, the highest number of scholarships will be awarded ever – 95 in all. The quality of recipients has been maintained, if not enhanced, as the number of applications also hit another record, close to 2,000 applicants in all. I am also heartened that successful applicants were chosen from a broad spread of Polytechnics and Junior Colleges." He added, "These applications were received starting in last August, prior to the onset of COVID-19 and therefore the ensuing downturn was not the reason for the increase."
Dr Ng also spoke of the reasons for strong interest by the younger generation to work in the defence sector. "Our surveys indicate a healthy and strong support for national defence, above 90 per cent! That our younger generation too have imbibed the need for Singapore to have a strong SAF bodes well for our collective future… A career in MINDEF/SAF offers a premium and value proposition for those that fit its mission and character." He added, "I believe that the skill sets and values of personnel within MINDEF and the SAF hold value and is transferable even after they leave to other vocations and career paths."
The SAF Scholarship, introduced in 1971, is a prestigious scholarship second only to the President's Scholarship. The SAF Merit Scholarship and Defence Merit Scholarship were introduced in 1983 and 2002 respectively. The SAF Engineering Scholarship was introduced in 2016 to attract engineering talent to join the SAF under the Military Domain Experts Scheme. The SAF Medicine Scholarship was introduced in 1991 and is awarded to those who aspire to serve as military medical professionals.
Both the PSC Scholarship (Engineering) – Defence and Security, and DSTA Scholarship nurture top engineering talents for Singapore's defence and security sector. The PSC Scholarship (Engineering) was launched in the 2017 to build and strengthen the Public Service's leadership pipelines in the engineering and technology sectors. The DSTA Scholarship was introduced in 2000 to attract budding engineers and scientists with a keen passion for Science and Technology to provide leading-edge technological solutions for Singapore's defence and security.
All scholarships aim to recruit top students from each cohort of school-leavers to join the defence sector. This year's scholarship recipients, who have demonstrated academic excellence and outstanding leadership qualities, will be pursuing their undergraduate studies at reputable local and overseas universities.
Upon completion of their tertiary education, recipients of the uniformed scholarships – The SAF Scholarship, the SAF Merit Scholarship, and the SAF Engineering Scholarship – will return to the organisation to assume a variety of challenging appointments that will groom them for senior command and leadership positions in MINDEF and the SAF. Recipients of the SAF Medicine Scholarship will return as Medical Officers and be groomed for senior medical positions in the SAF Medical Corps. The Defence Merit Scholarship recipients will return as Defence Executive Officers, and be groomed for senior management positions in MINDEF by taking on varied job challenges to hone their skills in critical defence areas. The PSC (Engineering) – Defence and Security, and DSTA Scholarship recipients will be groomed through multiple career pathways for engineering and technological leadership positions in the defence technology community.
As the awards ceremony was being livestreamed, senior officers from MINDEF, SAF, DSTA and DSO were at the recipients' residences to present the awards. Present at the virtual awards ceremony this evening were members of the Public Service Commission, senior leadership from MINDEF, SAF, DSTA and DSO, in-service scholars, school representatives, as well as the guests of the scholarship recipients.