26 November 2005 - Opening Speech By Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive / Director-General (Telecom), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At National Stritwise Challenge, Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Opening Speech By Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive / Director-General (Telecom), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At National Stritwise Challenge on 26 November 2005, Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Ms Angela Wee, Director, School of Infocomm Technology,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good Morning.


1. I am very happy to be here this morning to witness all the buzz and excitement of this inaugural year of the StrITwise challenge.

The Pervasiveness of Infocomm

2. I'm sure most, if not all of you, know R2D2 and C3PO, the famous robotic duo from George Lucas' world of Star Wars. Looking around, I don't think many of you saw the movie's original release back in the 70s. Back then, it seemed such a far fetched idea to have walking, talking and thinking robots and computers interacting with humans to accomplish all sorts of wonderful things. Many of us just accepted these as science fiction and we never expected any of these to become reality. Why? Because we never expected infocomm technologies to be so transformational. And I use the word transformational because I think describing the effects of the changes brought about by infocomm any other way is inadequate.

3. Today, we live and breathe Infocomm! In such a relatively short time, computers have evolved into things that are no longer recognisable. Computers that once filled half a room can now fit into your hand, your pocket, your wrist watch and even your ear. In fact, the mobile phones in your pockets, the ATM cards in your wallets, and even the video and audio controls in this auditorium, contain vital pieces of infocomm hardware and software.

4. Today, hardly any new innovation or discovery occurs without the aid of infocomm. Without computers, scientists could not have sequenced the human genome, and the much vaunted life sciences industry could not have taken off. NASA's 'Discovery' space shuttle would never have been successfully built and launched because no prototype aircraft or car is built today without being first modelled and test simulated over and over on a computer.

The Potential of Infocomm

5. As Infocomm becomes more pervasive to take on bigger roles in our society and personal lives, the need for newer, faster and more innovative Infocomm services and products will intensify. If you are a fan of science fiction movies and books, you'll agree that the possibilities of Infocomm are limited only by our imagination, and that we have just barely begun to scratch the surface of Infocomm's potential.

6. But, all the cool fanciful devices and inventions cannot happen without the right people to bring these ideas to life. Computers are only as intelligent as the people who design them and the benefits of Infocomm are only as impactful as envisioned by solutions designers and application architects. So what does this all mean? Simply put, talent - which has always been one of Singapore's most valuable resources. Especially in the fast changing infocomm industry, Singapore needs to continually grow our manpower capabilities and nurture strong talent in order to sustain the industry's growth and maintain our nation's competitive edge. This means ensuring we excite the best to want to learn about infocomm and when they enter the work force, they are able to value add to the infocomm industry in relevant areas that can give Singapore an edge. But equally important is that for those who may work in other sectors of the economy, they are also able to use infocomm to value add to their own sectors.

7. Just last week, IDA announced its Infocomm Manpower Development Roadmap. Over the next five years, the government, together with the industry will invest S$120 million to nurture and develop our Infocomm professionals as well as to develop an Infocomm savvy workforce. And yes, a key component of this Roadmap starts with students.

Power Up & Create @ Your Infocomm Club!

8. Come January next year, IDA will be rolling out the Infocomm Club programme in 30 schools and reaching 150 schools within the next three years. This is a new joint initiative with the industry, and supported by the Ministry of Education (MOE), to give students a fresh exciting way to learn about Infocomm. These clubs will team up with some of the biggest names in the industry, to teach students fun-filled, yet industry related curriculum in Infocomm areas such as digital media, games development, security and mobile technologies. Students also earn Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) points and get to learn from the best and the brightest minds in the industry, through internship and mentorship. But best of all, they'll be armed with the skills and knowledge that will give them that added edge in school, as well as when they are about to join the workforce. We hope that by exposing young people to Infocomm at an early age, you will become the innovators of tomorrow.

Infocomm as a Career

9. The Infocomm profession is one where you can be more than just an employee number in a humongous organisation. It is an exciting and challenging profession which offers a wide scope of career options. Where else do you have the ability to create your own world in cyberspace, discover new information from a mass of data or control a robot from across the solar system? It is a dynamic profession where you can make a difference - where the work you do can have an impact across the whole organisation, society, or even the world! Just look at how the founders of Google revolutionalised the way we organise and access information from the internet. Back home in Singapore, an area that we can be proud of is how we have used infocomm to transform interactions between the people and the government. We may have taken such transactions for granted but Singapore is consistently rated amongst the top 3 countries in the world for its e-Government achievements. Thanks to our own home-grown infocomm professionals who designed and implemented this.

10. IDA is in the midst of drawing up the iN2015 (Intelligent Nation 2015) masterplan that will look ten years into the future to identify new possibilities for Singapore through Infocomm. Infocomm professionals will be in demand across all sectors of the economy, and that there will be plenty of exciting options and opportunities in store for Infocomm graduates.

11. Before I conclude, I understand that Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Infocomm Technology recently won the Samsung DigitAll Hope 2005 Regional Awards for the GlovoLogy project to develop and implement a revolutionary approach to help enhance a hearing-impaired person's ability to communicate with others. The device enables the translation of sign language into speech, and speech into text on a pocket PC. I would like to congratulate and commend Ngee Ann Polytechnic for having done a fine job in nurturing and promoting Infocomm among students. Let me encourage you to continue to be innovative, be passionate about Infocomm and to dream the impossible. The future is in your hands.

12. Thank you.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023