Minister Mentor Lee, Distinguished Guests, School Officials, Faculty and Students:
It is an honour to be here – to join with you in celebrating the mission of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
I believe in the future of this institution and in its mission to be a centre of excellence for research and education in the field of public policy and public management. I am pleased to be part of this noble endeavor. Success here will be defined by the influence of those who learn here. It will be defined by their service to others. It will be defined by their influence in their communities and nations.
To choose to serve your people as their best friend and devoted servant is a most noble and conscious choice; it requires the very best you have to give. To be a leader, your life, your energy – the gifts you have been given are dedicated to others. And this is no easy task. It is humbling. It is fatiguing. But it could also be rewarding in your enduring influence.
Now, what will that influence be? Will you be known for your honesty? Will you be known for your dedication to justice? Will you be known for your efforts to promote peace and opportunity? Will you be an influence for hope? Will you be a champion of freedom and a voice for the silent? Will you have the courage to stand for what is right even if that is not what is popular? Will you be incorruptible and strong enough to stare down the temptation of ambition and unprincipled wealth?
Your life will become a monument to your vision. It will endure and be inscribed in history in the same way that the life of Pericles, the honest Athenian statesman, is remembered. Pericles said that great leaders have their vision of what to do and know how to articulate it. And they are incorruptible. He said, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
This is more than a principle for me. It is a life well lived. And achieving it is the objective of this school – a school which takes the name of a man who is internationally respected and has dedicated his own life to serving others, to building a nation of peace, opportunity, and promise.
Finally I like to share with you this: in my own life, the observance of the purist principle of self governance is to do more than is required and less than is allowed. It has always held me in good stead. I believe it will for everyone as well.