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Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the Business Excellence Awards

Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the Business Excellence Awards


1       A very good evening to the Singapore Quality Award (SQA) Governing Council, winners of tonight’s awards and friends. Thank you very much for inviting me. First and foremost, I’ll like to record our thanks and appreciation to the Council because without your efforts to consistently push and spread this message, we won’t be here today. It is not easy, we have to keep doing this, and spread the message to more people. I will also like to congratulate all the award winners, because I know that for you to arrive here tonight, it has been a long and often not the easiest journey. You have been bold to take this very step to come forward and challenge yourself to reach the standards that you’ve aspired towards.

2       Let me talk about the three wishes that I will like to see happen in the coming years. We have our challenges laid out for us. The economic environment has many uncertainties, but it also has many opportunities. Our challenge as Singapore Inc is to see how we can help our companies to reach the next level of competitiveness, so that we can not only survive but thrive amidst the competition. The job is not easy. So my first wish for everyone here tonight is that we never be complacent-that the Council and the Business Excellence Awards will keep reinventing itself, because the greatest danger for any set of standards is that it becomes standards that are not changing and standards that are not in accordance with the times. But in order for us to keep evolving our standards, to stay relevant to the needs of industries, to be cognisant of the scale and extent of the competition is not easy. So credit goes to the Council for constantly doing this as this job of keeping our standards relevant to the competition and the industries is never-ending. We must keep at it.

3       My second wish is for all the winners, that you do not just end up being icons for our industries. I will very much hope to see that beyond being an icon, that each and everyone of you will become an evangelist. The success of Singapore cannot depend on just on a few icons. The success of Singapore depends on many of us taking this journey together. Being an award winner tonight is a milestone but not a destination. Beyond being an icon, we hope there are many others who even though might not have won an award, would be part of this journey because very often the journey is as important, and if not, more important than winning the accolade tonight. This is why while I was waiting for the dinner to commence just now, I chatted with the Council. I was interested in knowing how many award winners there are. But I was even more interested in knowing how many more were trying to get the awards tonight, and even if they were not trying to do so, that they have adopted the standards, the processes, the thinking and the culture behind the SQA standard. The more companies and management teams that we have walking this journey together, the stronger our economy- regardless of the number of awards we are giving out tonight.

4       Last but not least, my third wish is the “Lion” symbol will represent the brand of trust that all Singapore companies can abide. I have always said that Singapore cannot compete on the basis of our price or size of our population. We can always compete on the quality of our ideas, creativity of our people, the innovation of our teams and the brand of trust that we can inspire in others. This is not a journey and achievement that can be done alone. This is where we as Team Singapore has to come together. It takes each and every one of us tremendous efforts to uphold this brand of trust and brand of quality for Singapore products to shine on the world’s stage. But it takes only one of us- a black sheep amongst us to destroy the brand. This is why we jealously guard the brand for Singapore because it is a brand of trust, a brand of quality. And if we can achieve that, we do not need to compete on the basis of price or size. And this is where SQA and many of the trade associations have our job cut out of us because we need to walk this journey together.

5       We need to help each and every company in Singapore achieve this brand of quality and brand of trust. That if we were to go around the world, and walk down any shopping aisle, and we see this lion symbol, it speaks to everyone across the world that this is a brand of trust and this brand will command a premium. We have done this for many Singapore products - particularly in the food industry, and even in engineering, biopharma and many others.  This is a collective responsibility for all of us.

6       So in closing, I have three wishes. First, is that we keep reinventing ourselves- reinventing our standards, and keep challenging ourselves to stay relevant. That the standards do not become what we call “standard operating procedures” but “standing operating procedures”- being the best in class at any point of time. Second, we hope that you would not just become icons, but you would be evangelists so that many more would join this journey, never mind the number of awards we give out on any particular night. Last but not least, let’s collectively build on this brand Singapore, the brand of quality, the brand of trust that will allow us as Singapore Inc, to compete on the basis of quality and trust but not just on price or size. Thank you and have an enjoyable evening.

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