544 receive National Day Awards

Left: Mr Peter Ho, former head of the civil service, receiving the Distinguished Service Order, one of Singapore's top national honours, from President Tony Tan Keng Yam yesterday, for his service to the country. Below: Para-swimmer Theresa Goh, who
Mr Peter Ho, former head of the civil service, receiving the Distinguished Service Order, one of Singapore's top national honours, from President Tony Tan Keng Yam yesterday, for his service to the country.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Left: Mr Peter Ho, former head of the civil service, receiving the Distinguished Service Order, one of Singapore's top national honours, from President Tony Tan Keng Yam yesterday, for his service to the country. Below: Para-swimmer Theresa Goh, who
Para-swimmer Theresa Goh, who won a bronze medal at the Paralympics this year, going on stage to receive the Public Service Star.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Former head of civil service and Paralympics bronze medallist among recipients

Former top civil servant Peter Ho was conferred the prestigious Distinguished Service Order, one of Singapore's top national honours, yesterday for his contribution to the country.

The former head of civil service was among 544 people who received their National Day Awards from President Tony Tan Keng Yam at a ceremony at the University Cultural Centre in Kent Ridge.

Mr Ho, 62, was commended for having galvanised various government agencies to work together on key challenges facing Singapore.

Now chairman of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Mr Ho led the civil service from 2005 until his retirement in 2010.

His 43 years in the public service included permanent secretary appointments at the ministries of defence and foreign affairs, and the Prime Minister's Office.

"Mr Ho's ability to anticipate and address future challenges has contributed immeasurably towards Singapore's success," said a citation that was read at the ceremony.

"His astute mind and sharp intellect in dissecting issues, and passion for building a future-ready public service, have significantly advanced Singapore's interests in defence, foreign affairs, security and governance."

As URA chairman since 2012, Mr Ho has taken urban planning to new frontiers and gained international recognition for Singapore's brand of urban planning, the citation added.

The former Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) scholarship holder was also credited with strengthening a whole-of-government approach and strategic planning capabilities within the public sector.

Four individuals with a record of public service also received the Meritorious Service Medal yesterday.

They are former National Environment Agency chairman Chew Gek Khim, 54; renowned artist and Cultural Medallion recipient Lim Tze Peng, 95; Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) member and former Supreme Court judge Goh Joon Seng, 81; and National University of Singapore professor and marine biologist Leo Tan Wee Hin, 71.

Para-swimmer Theresa Goh also received the Public Service Star from President Tan yesterday for her achievements at the Paralympic Games. "I did not expect to receive the award. It was a bonus," said Ms Goh, 29, who won a bronze medal at the Paralympics in September. She previously received the Public Service Medal in 2008.

Swimmer Joseph Schooling, Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist at the Rio Olympics in August, was to receive the Meritorious Service Medal, but could not attend the ceremony yesterday as he is studying overseas. The Straits Times understands that he will get the award at a later date.

The swimming pair were not on the National Day Awards list announced on Aug 9. The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth subsequently announced their awards last month.

The National Day Awards are given out every year to recognise individuals for their contributions to Singapore. Nearly 4,000 people were honoured this year, including civil servants, members of SAF, community and grassroots leaders, and educators.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2016, with the headline '544 receive National Day Awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe