President Halimah attends first commencement ceremony as NUS Chancellor

President Halimah Yacob and Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Law, at the law school's commencement ceremony on July 12, 2018.
President Halimah Yacob and Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Law, at the law school's commencement ceremony on July 12, 2018.ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

SINGAPORE - It was a homecoming of sorts for President Halimah Yacob, as she attended the National University of Singapore (NUS) law school's commencement ceremony on Thursday afternoon (July 12).

The ceremony was her first since she became the university's 10th chancellor in November last year.

President Halimah graduated from the NUS Faculty of Law in 1978. She was back there again in 1999, and earned her master's in law in 2001.

About 360 law graduates were conferred their degrees at the ceremony.

Thursday's event kicks off the first of 23 commencement ceremonies that are being held at the University Cultural Centre over eight days. A total of 6,785 students will receive their bachelor's while 4,082 will be conferred postgraduate degrees such as their master's or doctorate.

On Thursday, NUS president Tan Eng Chye told the law graduates that apart from their legal training, other attributes such as curiosity, empathy and determination would be needed for them to succeed in the field.

"You will also need to constantly seek out new knowledge, to enlarge and enrich your understanding, and to discover new and different ways of doing things," he said in a speech.

Prof Tan also warned that "new waves of change are coming", such as greater global competition, and technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics. These developments will impact the economy, including legal services.

To adapt to these changes, the modern law graduate would have to constantly learn and acquire new skills and knowledge, sometimes even beyond the legal realm, he said.

In his speech, Prof Tan also paid tribute to Justice Chao Hick Tin, Senior Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore, for his "unwavering service and dedication" and "exceptional contributions" to the country.

Justice Chao, 75, was presented an honorary Doctor of Laws, the university's highest honour, by President Halimah.

Prof Tan said Justice Chao had, over a career that has stretched more than 50 years so far, held some of Singapore's highest legal offices, including that of attorney-general and judge of appeal on the Supreme Court. He added that the judge's impact on the legal realm also extended into the international arena.

"His expertise in international law, as well as his resolute spirit of public service, was called upon in landmark agreements and treaties that secured and promoted Singapore's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and commercial interests," said the NUS president.