32 scout leaders recognised for outstanding service

SINGAPORE - As a boy scout in St Joseph's Institution, marine biologist Leo Tan learnt values such as honesty, service and the importance of doing good deeds.

Decades later, Professor Tan - one of the professors behind the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum -became involved with the scouts again five years ago when he was elected as vice president of the Singapore Scouts Association.

And his contributions to scouting since have earned him the Silver Award at the Distinguished Service Awards Investiture Ceremony at the Istana on Wednesday (July 13).

The director of special projects at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Science was among the 32 adult scout leaders who were conferred awards for their distinguished service and good work. The awards were presented by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Chief Scout of Singapore.

Some of Prof Tan's notable work with the scouts association include being part of the team that helped to promote awareness and interest in aviation matters among scouts in primary and secondary schools.

He said being a scout taught him many invaluable life skills and values which he holds on to even now.

"The real world is not in a four-wall classroom. It is (about) learning in everyday situations and that's what scouting does. When we do these good deeds, we do it because of our commitment towards the scouts and our belief in the values that they uphold," said Prof Tan.

He added that people "can learn from all the textbooks we want, but they will become obsolete". But the scout movement teaches real life skills that "we will all carry with us for life", he said.

Other winners of the awards include Mr Chan Ying Yin, 46, a former principal of Unity Secondary School. He received the Bronze Vanda Award for his outstanding support and contributions to the scouting movement in his school.

"My students benefited a lot in participating and being a part of the scouts. It really lets them learn and grow, build their character as leaders and helpers of the community," said Mr Chan, now the principal of Chung Cheng High Main.