544 receive National Day Honours from President Tony Tan Keng Yam

Para-swimmer Theresa Goh receives the Public Service Star from President Tony Tan at the 2016 National Day Awards on Sunday (Nov 6) at the University Cultural Centre.
Para-swimmer Theresa Goh receives the Public Service Star from President Tony Tan at the 2016 National Day Awards on Sunday (Nov 6) at the University Cultural Centre.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Swimmer Theresa Goh goes on stage to receive the Public Service Star from President Tony Tan at the 2016 National Day Awards on Sunday (Nov 6) at the University Cultural Centre.
Swimmer Theresa Goh goes on stage to receive the Public Service Star from President Tony Tan at the 2016 National Day Awards on Sunday (Nov 6) at the University Cultural Centre. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Former top civil servant Peter Ho was on Sunday (Nov 6) conferred the Distinguished Service Order, one of Singapore's top national honours, for his contribution to the country.

The former head of the 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.

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 was head of 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 the citation.

"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 said.

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

Four individuals with a record of public service received the Meritorious Service Medal on Sunday.

They were: former chairman of the National Environment Agency (NEA) 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 Mr Tan for her achievements at the Paralympic Games.

Swimmer Joseph Schooling, Singapore's first Olympic gold medalist at the Rio Olympics in August, was conferred the Meritorious Service Medal, was not at the ceremony as he was studying overseas. The Straits Times understands that he will get the award at a later date.

"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.

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 in October.

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 the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), community and grassroots leaders, and educators.

TOP HONOURS

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER (Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang)

Peter Ho Hak Ean, Chairman, Urban Redevelopment Authority.

MERITORIOUS SERVICE MEDAL (Pingat Jasa Gemilang)

Mdm Chew Gek Khim, Former Chairman, National Environment Agency

Mr Goh Joon Seng, Member, Council of Presidential Advisers

Mr Lim Tze Peng, Artist

Prof Leo Tan Wee Hin, Professor and Adviser, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Director of Special Projects, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore

Joseph Schooling, Olympic Gold Medalist in swimming