Date Published: 27 Jul 2012
Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng,
Chief Executive, Science Centre Singapore,
Dr Lim Khiang Wee,
Executive Director, A*STAR Graduate Academy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Students and children.
1 I am really happy to be here, this is my second time at X-periment!. As
Prof Lim had said, I love supporting Science Centre because I think they are
doing a very meaningful and wonderful job in bringing science to our younger
people and students. This collaboration between A*STAR, its institutes and
agencies, with the Science Centre is particularly meaningful because it provides
a time and an opportunity for our researchers and scientists to bring and introduce
science to our young people. We are investing a lot in our research and development,
and I think it is important for our young people to understand how that impacts
them, how that will affect the economy of Singapore going forward, and change
the future of Singapore. I think it is a good time for our scientists to explain
that to our young people and to convince them that there is a bright future
ahead of them. I am very happy to be supporting events organised by the Science
Centre and I hope that with the various activities and events, you will help
convince parents to incorporate science into their daily activities with their
children. We hope to overtake eating and shopping as a national sport here.
2 Started in 2001 as the National Science Month, the Singapore Science Festival
has since grown into Singapore’s largest science event and an annual
fixture in our national calendar. The festival not only aims to raise greater
awareness of Science in our lives, and foster creativity in our people, it
also gives us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of local innovators
- both past and present, who have undeniably bettered the quality of our lives
with their work.
3 One of the major global issues facing us today is the sustainability of
our living environment. The world is becoming more dense and urbanised. This
is the first time in human history that we have more people living in the cities
than the rural areas. And that will change the way the world is organised.
Cities will become the future and you will find a congregation of people offering
us tremendous opportunities in terms of the social services. The schools, the
clinics, the hospitals allow us to provide good social support and services
to people more conveniently and more accessibly than before. But that opportunity
also creates challenges and therefore you have the demand on our infrastructure
such as our provision of fresh water, our waste management capabilities and
so on and so forth. So this is a very interesting time, both from the scientists’ perspective
and also from the governments’ perspective, the urban planners’ perspectives
and for thought leaders, to really think about what urbanisation and intensification
of the cities mean to us as human beings, on how to organise ourselves and
how to provide visible solutions to improve the lives of people.
4 Take water for instance. Because we have always been short of water in Singapore,
we place a lot of emphasis on research and technology in the water industry.
Today, we have successfully converted this shortage into a strategic opportunity
for our companies, who are now sought for their services and technologies for
water recycling and desalination.
5 Dengue is another example. The dengue fever is not only a problem in Singapore,
where we see about 5,000 cases of dengue each year, but also worldwide and
in cities located in the tropics, where people live in closer proximity with
one another, the environment also makes it easier for the dengue virus to be
transmitted easily. Recently, a team of scientists from the Duke-NUS Graduate
Medical School and the DSO National Laboratories discovered a human antibody
that kills the dengue virus in two hours. If clinical trials are successful,
Singapore could see the world’s first cure for the dengue virus.
6 In line with our continued emphasis on innovation and creativity, the theme
for this year’s Science Festival is “Create New Possibilities”.
The Singapore Science Festival 2012 aims to challenge and inspire us to look
at things differently, seek new discoveries and achieve breakthroughs. More
than sixty events island-wide will be open to the public over the next three
weeks. Highlights include the STAR Lecture, which Prof Lim had just talked
about. Another is the Pop!sticks National Day Domino, which will feature Singapore’s
attempt to achieve a new record on setting off the longest chain of ice-popsicle
sticks, weaved into a high-tension mesh that will rapidly unravel in domino-chain-like
fashion. I am really excited about this and I look forward to the 8th of August.
7 Today, we are also here to launch X-periment!, an exhibition which seeks
to bring R&D out of the labs to the public. Those of you here today will
be able to see interesting innovations and experiments by local researchers
from 21 research institutes, public agencies and tertiary institutions. Some
of these include the Genome Institute of Singapore’s exhibition on developing
lipids in algae into fuel, and the Temasek Polytechnic’s Fuel Cell Personal
Shuttle Commuter – a bicycle which uses hydrogen gas to produce clean
energy. What is amazing about this bicycle is that it can travel continuously
over a distance of about 150 kilometres, equivalent to the length of three
Singapores. I strongly encourage all of you to take a walk around and I will
definitely do it myself.
8 As we continue to bring in novel scientific events through the Singapore
Science Festival, I cannot over-emphasise the need for Singapore to continue
to build capabilities and develop its talents in R&D and innovation. This
is critical for the longer term competitiveness of our economy and also vital
in tackling major multi-faceted challenges that will grow even bigger in future,
such as an aging population, the possibility of pandemics, cyber security,
and environmental sustainability.
9 In closing, I would like to thank everyone involved in the organisation
of this year’s Singapore Science Festival, for putting together a series
of exciting events, performances and activities. The public-private-people
collaboration is crucial to promoting awareness of Science and driving R&D
in Singapore, and we are honoured to have your support. Let us all continue
to be inquisitive about Science and allow ourselves to be inspired by what
it can do for us. This Science Festival provides us a wonderful opportunity
to do so and let’s enjoy ourselves and immerse in Science.
Thank you and have a wonderful afternoon.