I am extremely pleased to join all of you this afternoon, at the 14th NYAA Gold Award Presentation Ceremony, to celebrate and recognise the achievements of our young people. I would also like to thank President Tony Tan for gracing this ceremony as Guest-of-Honour.

Let me begin by congratulating each and every one of our award recipients. You have demonstrated some of the very best traits as young leaders in your journey to attain the NYAA Gold Award, the pinnacle of the Programme.

The FLAIR of NYAA Winners

In undertaking the NYAA Programme, all of you embarked on a journey of self-reliance and self-discovery. Your NYAA journey had five segments over the past two to three years :

  • Service;
  • an Adventurous Journey;
  • Skills Development;
  • Physical Recreation and
  • the Residential Project.

Each of these segments which would have encouraged you to take greater ownership of your personal development. You have had the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and the spirit of genuine service, to take part in expeditions and explorations that broadened your experiences, learn a new skill in the areas of music, arts, cooking and even photography, and to initiate a project that will benefit the community.

Through this fruitful journey, we saw an unmistakable FLAIR that emerged in each of you. FLAIR is an acronym for the following traits that we want all NYAA participants to achieve:

  • F – Foresightedness
  • L – Leadership
  • A – Adaptability
  • I – Innovativeness
  • R – Responsibility

“F” for Foresightedness – this is required in order to plan ahead, foresee different scenarios, and make contingency plans. It is developed through conscious efforts and experience and is an essential trait for leaders. I understand that the Residential Project, for instance, required you to undertake a project that benefitted either a local or overseas community. One of the Gold award recipients, Sim Xin Wei, completed his Residential Project in Sichuan province, China. He, together with his team, offered their services to the children, elderly and handicapped and raised funds through various methods so that they were able to purchase daily necessities for the local community. The Residential Project provided an exceptional environment for our young people to develop foresightedness in the process of conceptualising, planning and executing the entire project on their own. I am heartened that through this, you were able to make a difference to the lives of these people that you dedicated your project to.

Next, “L” for Leadership – The NYAA provides many opportunities and platforms for participants to learn leadership skills. There have been many good examples of outstanding leadership and contributions from our youth, both at national level and across various international platforms. For example, some of the outstanding NYAA young leaders are serving in various key positions at high-level international conferences and forums such as United Nations, Commonwealth, Y20 of the G20 Summit, APEC Summit and Leaders of Tomorrow at the St Gallen Symposium, just to name a few.

I am happy that young leaders like yourselves were given the opportunity to lead groups, run programmes and through this, gain experience in your inter-personal and communications skills. With myriad opportunities provided for you to break out from your comfort zones, we will certainly look forward to having more young people coming out as leaders with a passion to serve the community.

“A” for Adaptability – Being flexible and adaptable is an important trait. In an era of rapid technological change, you will be asked to adapt frequently on the job. You will be asked to work with many different types of people. You will have to learn to work well in uncertainty and juggle different tasks well. Adaptability is a pre-requisite for everyone – but especially for leaders.

“I” for Innovativeness – Innovativeness is the ability to think out of the box. It should be used in every aspect of life – in work, career, personal life. Pursue your ideas with passion, and do good for society. I am happy to hear that many NYAA Gold Award holders were recognised for their innovative ideas with support from NYAA over the years.

One such example is Dr Angela Lee, a NYAA Gold Award recipient from the 2002 cohort, who led a team which successfully created the world’s first ecologically-friendly spectacle frame by sourcing for recycled materials that were both practical for manufacture and feasible in cost. It is always encouraging to see a rise in young Singaporeans contributing fresh ideas and plans. If you have an innovative idea, work hard to turn it into reality for the good of Singaporeans and Singapore.

Finally, “R” for Responsibility – A mark of strong character is an individual’s sense of responsibility to oneself and to the society. Through this NYAA journey, I am sure that all of you would have cultivated this personal quality – it certainly requires a high level of commitment to complete the programme and attain the Gold Award.

The Importance of Instilling FLAIR in All our Young

The attributes encapsulated in FLAIR are extremely important and will determine our youths’ ability to thrive in a world that is rapidly changing because of technology – which changes how we live, work and play, as well as globalisation – which brings people from many cultures and backgrounds into the same workplaces. There is an increasing need to develop individuals not just in the academic domain, but also to instil in them the importance of soft skills, such as attitude, leadership, communication skills, teamwork, and the ability to work across cultures. Hence, through platforms in all our schools such as Co-curricular Activities (CCAs), Values-in-Action (VIA) or the Learning for Life and Applied Learning Programmes (LLP and ALPs), students will have more opportunities to grow these traits, and put them into practice.

However, it takes a whole society to nurture these traits in our youth. This is why the NYAA programme is a very valuable programme because it complements what we are doing in schools. The NYAA programme is aligned to MOE’s emphasis on developing our students’ character and competencies beyond academics. This is why NYAA programmes are formally recognised in LEAPS, the system used to recognise students’ co-curricular development in schools.

Go on to Contribute to Society

For the NYAA winners – you have come a long way through the programme, and I hope that you will go from strength to strength, honing leadership skills and attributes throughout your lives. It is an accomplishment and privilege to be a Gold Award Recipient, and I encourage you to use your influence to help your classmates and friends grow in these ways too.

Many of you will go on to do good things for our society. Let me share with you two examples of inspiring NYAA winners. Mr Edward Chia, an NYAA Gold Award Holder from the 2004 cohort, who continued to contribute back to society after receiving his Gold Award and Mr Muhammad Nur Dinie Bin Abdul Aziz who will be receiving his Gold Award this afternoon.

Mr Edward Chia is the Managing Director of Timbre Group, one of Singapore’s fastest growing live music entertainment businesses. Edward is a visionary entrepreneur whose remarkable accomplishments have profoundly shaped the lives of many young talented musicians in Singapore. During his journey with the NYAA and his involvement in the arts sector, he realised that the assurance of a sizable and sustainable audience was the key for people to seriously consider music as a career. Edward, together with a friend, formed the Timbre Group in 2005 with a social mission to develop Singapore’s local music scene and nurture the aptitude of young artistes by providing opportunities and platforms to showcase their talents.

Edward says that the NYAA planted a seed in him which budded and helped him build a strong foundation on which to serve the community. He is happy to be able to contribute to society through his talents and network, and through the Timbre Group, which has grown and established itself as a champion for Singaporean musicians.

For his leadership and contributions, Edward has been awarded many distinguished awards such as the Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year by the Singapore Tourism Board in 2010, the Outstanding Young Alumni Award by the National University of Singapore in 2011 and the Singapore Youth Award 2014 for his bold entrepreneurial drive and exemplary contribution towards the socio-economic empowerment of the community.

We also have Muhammad Nur Dinie Bin Abdul Aziz, a Medical student at the National University of Singapore, this year’s recipient of the NYAA Gold Award. As part of his NYAA Residential Project, he gathered a group of friends with similar interests and initiated a project with YouthReach at the Singapore Association of Mental Health to create greater awareness and understanding about youth with mental illness. They came up with solutions through group meetings, online conferences and e-mail correspondence and maintained an effective bridge of communication which allowed them to get important and useful feedback which they then used to improve their ideas. They also organised outings for youth with mental illness and worked with external organisations that serve the needs and well-being of these mentally ill youth in order to better understand how to help them. Muhammad Nur Dinie strongly believes in partnership and collaboration and he has shown that he is not afraid of trying new ways of working with youth with mental illnesses.

The Residential Project was an eye-opener for them with many real-life lessons that they could not have learnt in a classroom. Muhammad Nur Dinie says that the experience with NYAA taught him how to overcome challenges. Along the way, he also discovered his own ability to adapt and be flexible when facing obstacles as well as to find different ways to overcome these obstacles. These experiences have strengthened his capabilities and commitment as a leader who is willing to serve the community.

I am happy to see that the Gold Award Holders’ Alumni is brimming with bright young role models leaders like Edward, Muhammad Nur Dinie, Sim Xin Wei and Dr Angela Lee. We are proud of their achievements and contributions and we hope that they will inspire even more young people to follow in their footsteps.

Conclusion

To all NYAA Operating Authorities, principals, NYAA Award Coordinators and teachers, thank you for your support in providing our young people the very best in youth development through the NYAA Programme.

To the NYAA Board and Council Members, thank you for making NYAA what it is today and constantly striving to improve the programme so that we can provide even more opportunities for our youth.

To parents and family, thank you for supporting them in their NYAA journeys and encouraging them to further develop their potential.

Heartiest congratulations once again, to all the NYAA Gold Award Recipients, and I wish you the very best in your endeavours.

Thank you very much.