SINGAPORE - When Mr Yong Thiam Chong made his first trip to Taiwan in 2002 to promote Singapore's rail electronics systems, he faced a raft of questions about the company he worked for, Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering, and its track record.
In fact, he kept getting the same questions on many overseas visits.
Mr Yong, 59, was part of the team that designed and developed things like platform screen doors and display systems used in the MRT and LRT stations. He is now the company's president of mobility systems and deputy president for international businesses.
Mr Yong is among the many ST Engineering workers featured in a book to mark the company's the 50th anniversary.
Called Engineering With Passion, the book was launched on Friday (Aug 4) by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean at the ST Engineering Hub in Ang Mo Kio.
Mr Teo, in his opening address, said it was important to build on the foundations laid by generations of defence engineers and professionals as well as get ready for the future.
This includes seizing opportunities in the future economy and preparing for future threats, he added.
He said: "Our security agencies are adapting their protocols and taking active steps to address evolving security challenges such as terrorism and cyber security. At the same time, these challenges generate demand for new products and solutions."
Mr Teo, also lauded the company for working closely with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Home Team over the years, and helping to keep the country secure.
ST Engineering, which specialises in the aerospace, electronics, land systems and marine sectors, started off as the Chartered Industries of Singapore in 1967. Today, it has a footprint in many parts of Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East and has about 22,000 employees.
ST Engineering president and chief executive Vincent Chong, speaking at the event, said "we are all cognisant that we live in a rapidly changing and uncertain world", with globalisation and new technologies such as the Internet of Things disrupting businesses and ways of life.
That is why, he said, there is a need to harness such technologies and deepen expertise in "strategically important areas" such as data analytics and cyber security. This will help support Singapore as it positions itself for the future, he added.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a foreword for the book, commended the role of ST Engineering in supporting Singapore's security and defence, while being run as a commercial enterprise independent of the government.
He said: "This hard-nosed approach, with no guaranteed safety net, made their jobs much tougher." And while this meant the team had to innovate and work harder to stay profitable, this produced a generation of managers and engineers "whose sheer grit and ingenuity overcame all odds", he added.
DPM Teo, in a message in the book, said the company made "significant strides" through the decades as the SAF transitioned from requiring things like maintenance and support to innovative solutions.
The expertise it cultivated helped develop home-grown and dual-use products for commercial applications beyond Singapore, he added.
Others featured in the book include Temasek Holdings chief executive Ho Ching, who joined Singapore Technologies in 1987 as director of engineering and later became its president and chief executive.