2018 Speech Day – Speech by Ms Tjeannee Yeoh (GOH)
Mr Chen Fook Pang
Mr Chiang Heng Liang
Chairman, School Advisory Committee
Mr Delane Lim
President of the Bendemeer Alumni
Parents, teachers, staff members and students
It is an honour to be invited to grace the 41st Speech Day of Bendemeer Secondary School. Today is a day of joy, as we celebrate the achievements of students, teachers and partners of the school. For the students, this event marks a milestone in the chapters of your secondary school life. As your journey in Bendemeer Secondary School progresses, opportunities will be opened to you, with new and exciting pathways laid out before you.
As we honour the efforts of those who have persevered and achieved success by overcoming challenges along the way, we should take some time to reflect on how our success is often not just the fruits of our own labour. We must always remember to give thanks to those who have helped us along the way; our parents, teachers, friends and even our community. At the same time, we must also be grateful for what we have, even though at times it might seem that there are others who have more than we do. In the midst of the business in our daily lives, do not forget those who have less than us. Recently, I was gifted a book by an ex-student about a person who exemplifies just such a quality.
This brave young lady has captured the hearts and imagination of millions of people in recent years by embodying the values of truth, resilience, courage and love. I am talking here about Malala Yousafzai, who is the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Prize. For those of us who are not familiar with the Nobel Prize, it is a set of annual international awards bestowed on individuals and organisations in recognition of their achievements in a number of categories, such as Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Economics and Peace.
Malala was born in 1997 in the city of Mingora in Pakistan. When she was a teenager about your age, she decided to write about her experiences of life under the rule of the Taleban in north-west Pakistan. The result was an anonymous blog called the Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl. For the Upper Secondary students among us here today, you would recall from your Social Studies lessons that the Taleban were associated with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, and I am certain that you can imagine life under the Taleban was no bed of roses.
In her blog, Malala wrote about how the Taleban had banned girls from attending school. Despite her young age, she was able to convey her heartfelt desire to remain in education and for students like herself to have a chance to be educated. And more importantly, even though the blog was anonymous, she was not afraid to speak out in public about the right to education. With a growing public platform, she continued her fight for the right to an education. However, this came at a price as Malala’s activism brought her to the attention of the Taleban, who were furious at her for promoting education for girls and threatened to attack her.
On 11 October 2012, Malala was on her way home from school in a bus when a Taleban gunman boarded the bus and demanded to know which girl was Malala. Upon identifying her, the gunman fired a shot and the bullet hit Malala in her head. The shooting did not claim her life, but it left her in a critical condition. When her condition was stable enough, she was transferred to a hospital in England where she underwent multiple surgeries to treat her injuries.
In March 2013, Malala had recovered sufficiently to attend school in England. This was a tribute not just to the quality of care she received but also to her own resilience and determination. Till this day, despite the attack and the Taleban’s continued threat against her, she remains a staunch advocate for education and continues to speak about the importance of education for girls. She has continued her campaign and taken it around the world. The recognition and support for her work have continued to grow worldwide, and it finally culminated in October 2014 when the Nobel committee named Malala as a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The story of Malala is a reminder to us that we should never take for granted our blessings, in whatever form they may come. I urge each and every one of our young Bendemeerians here today to remember and be grateful for the opportunities which have come your way. Earlier I was speaking to Mr Chen and Ms Jeya and we were saying that it takes a village to raise a child. It does! And I hope you will always remember and be grateful to your family, your family at home, and your family here in school, for their love and support.
Your success today is by no small means only possible because of the sacrifices that were made for you. Continue to work hard and may you be rewarded with even more success in the future.
Thank you and I wish you a wonderful 41st Speech Day.