SINGAPORE - Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong received the highest recognition from his alma mater, the National University of Singapore (NUS) on Monday.
He was presented with an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from NUS, for his contributions to Singapore in public service. He served as Singapore's second Prime Minister from 1990 to 2004. He has been ESM and senior adviser to the Monetary Authority of Singapore since May 2011.
Two other individuals were given honorary degrees at NUS' main commencement ceremony on Monday. Professor Saw Swee Hock was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters for his contributions in the field of statistics and demography, and his philanthropic work.
Sir Richard Brook Sykes was given the honorary Doctor of Science for his research work and achievements in biomedical sciences.
In a speech at the ceremony, ESM Goh recalled some personal and key external events that have shaped his 74 years of life, from his father's death when he was 10 to his dream of getting a PhD being disrupted as the government would not transfer his bursary bond to the university, where he had signed on as a research fellow after graduation.
He spoke about starting his civil service career in the Prime Minister's Office, and later unexpectedly joining politics.
Addressing about 150 accountancy graduands, he said: "First, while you cannot predict your future, you have control over some parts. You can scan and prepare for the terrain ahead - the geopolitical environment, the global economic outlook, Singapore's demography, society's changing attitude, technology, political developments.
"Second, have a sense of duty - duty to family and country ...Serve in whatever way you can to repay what others have done for you," he said.
"Be bold and carve out new paths ...You do not have to take the path of politics but please do if you are invited for tea sessions," he quipped.
Some 10,219 graduates will receive bachelor or graduate degrees this year from NUS, during ceremonies over nine days from Monday to July 14.