SINGAPORE - A bumper crop of 43 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Ministry of Defence (Mindef) scholarships were given out this year, higher than the usual number.
Speaking at an award ceremony on Wednesday at Istana, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen noted that there were more quality applications this year.
Calling it a good trend, he said "it indicates that there is a continuing desire in our young to serve our nation through the SAF".
Dr Ng asserted the importance of good and capable leaders, and pointed out that the military "is inherently an ideal ground to test and groom leaders".
"Just think about it, you have to win the respect of men and women you lead before they will charge for you ," he said.
On Wednesday, 10 recipients were presented with the SAF Scholarship, formerly known as the SAF Overseas Scholarship, and 13 recipients were presented with the Defence Merit Scholarship. Another 20 received the SAF Merit Scholarship.
The prestigious SAF Scholarship is widely recognised as second only to the President's Scholarship, and past recipients of the award include Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing.
SAF Scholarship recipient and Naval Officer, Midshipman Aloysius Oh, 19, said one of the reasons he joined the SAF was to be an inspiration to his younger sister, as his mother is a single parent. He will be studying Pscyhology at University College London (UCL).
"I think what she looks out for is a fatherly figure, and I hope to play that role by being a role model for her and giving the best in everything I do," he said.
MID Oh intends to study Psychology at the University College of London, and believes that having an education in psychology will help him to better understand and communicate with his fellow servicemen.
Army OCT Jeremiah Choo, 19, turned down a Public Service Commission teaching scholarship to take up the SAF Scholarship. He will read Mathematics with Economics at UCL.
He said that his parents, who are both teachers, have inspired him to give back by influencing others, and hopes that he can make a difference by teaching life skills.
Commenting on some of the challenges that the SAF faces, OCT Choo said that he hopes to combat the shortage of manpower created by the declining birth rate by getting involved in recruitment."I'd like to reach out to different groups of people, such as students and females," he said.