Sunday, 19 September, was a red-letter day for NTU in Guangzhou, with the university honouring the newest members of the Class of 2010 and unveiling the first Asia-Pacific Mayors' Forum as well as a new public service excellence index for Chinese cities.
Sunny, clear skies made for a perfect graduation day for NTU’s largest cohort from six China-focused Master’s programmes. Clad in academic regalia and brimming with the optimism of the occasion, the 331 China graduates, many of them high-ranking government officials, received their degree scrolls at NTU’s fifth China Convocation, held at the Canton Hall of Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention Centre.
NTU President Dr Su Guaning welcomed the graduates into the Nanyang family and urged them to do their part for society. “Today, the Class of 2010 joins our global Nanyang alumni family. I hope you will continue to sustain strong bonds with your alma mater and become NTU’s ambassadors in China. I also hope you will harness the knowledge you have gained in your time at NTU and use it to play your part in contributing to society and to your country,” said Dr Su.
More than 16,000 NTU alumni are based in China. The university has trained more than 10,000 Chinese officials since 1992, beginning with short-term courses for China cadres, facilitated by the Singapore government. This number includes about 1,000 local and state government officials from the Master of Science in Managerial Economics and Master of Public Administration programmes, popularly known as the “Mayors’ Class”. Referring to the “Mayors’ Class” graduates, Dr Su said “many of them were promoted shortly after graduation and are now vice-governors, party secretaries of municipalities and mayors”.
Graduates of the other four China-focused Master’s courses – the Nanyang EMBA, Master of Science in Technopreneurship and Innovation, Master in Educational Administration, and Master of Science in Finance programmes – have also gone on to enjoy highly successful careers.
Holding the Convocation in China allows NTU’s China-based graduates to celebrate their graduation with their family and friends.
NTU Pro-Chancellor Mr Chandra Das presided over the ceremony, which was attended by distinguished guests such as Ms Cheng Guilan, Deputy Director-General of the Organisation Department of China’s CPC Central Committee; Ms Grace Fu, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education; Mr Teo Ser Luck, Singapore’s Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development, Youth and Sports, and Transport; Mr Ang Chay Chuan, Singapore Consul General in Guangzhou; and NTU Board of Trustees members Mr Chia Ban Seng, Mr Inderjit Singh and Ms Lien Siaou-Sze.
Ms Shen Bing, the President of the NTU Alumni Association in Beijing, delivered a speech in which she shared about her life as an NTU student. She expressed her gratitude to the university for allowing her the freedom to accomplish her plans.
Summing up the thoughts of his fellow graduands, valedictorian Mr Zhang Ke, Deputy Director, Taiwan Affairs Office, People’s Government of Guangdong Province, said: “The past year was a fruitful and memorable one for all of us. We have gained new knowledge, widened our horizons, and made new friends. We will apply what we have learnt in NTU to our daily work in an earnest and down-to-earth manner, and play our part in enhancing ties between China and Singapore."
Public service excellence index for Chinese cities
At a press conference in Guangzhou, NTU also unveiled the Lien Public Service Excellence Index for Chinese Cities – a new index that ranks the top 10 Chinese cities in various aspects of public service quality. Suzhou came out tops in the survey, which evaluated 32 major cities based on three indicators – overall public satisfaction, business environment and general public service.
The survey was conducted by NTU's Nanyang Centre for Public Administration (NCPA) and Xiamen University’s School of Public Affairs.
The Index was commissioned and made possible by an endowment from the Lien Foundation, which will also allow the rankings to be conducted annually. Good public service translates into a more attractive business environment and an enhanced global image, said Mr Lee Poh Wah, Chief Executive Officer of the Lien Foundation.
Unlike other public service rankings and indices, NTU’s Public Service Excellence Index uses first-hand data collected by research groups in the 32 cities. The full report on the results will be published by NTU and Xiamen University later this year. A conference will also be organised to discuss the findings.
According to Assoc Prof Wu Wei, Director of the Nanyang Centre for Public Administration, the public service excellence index gives the Chinese central government a broad overview of their public service strengths and weaknesses.
The findings also provide topical academic content for NTU’s Mayors’ Class. “The launch of the Index is a key step for NCPA to advance its research on Chinese public administration. The extensive new knowledge generated from the project will benefit multinational corporations in search of investing opportunities in China,” explained Assoc Prof Wu.
Inaugural Asia-Pacific Mayors' Forum
The Lien Public Service Excellence Index was introduced at the inaugural Asia-Pacific Mayors' Forum in Guangzhou. About 500 government officials from China's cities and around the world attended the one-day forum, which discussed ways to make cities more liveable.
Organised by NTU and the Guangzhou municipal government, the forum provided a platform for these senior officials from the Asia-Pacific region to share their experiences and discuss strategies for improving public service and the branding of modern cities.
Among those who spoke at the event was Singapore's Senior Minister of State Ms Grace Fu, who dwelt on the environment and social challenges facing urbanising Asian cities and Singapore's experience in overcoming them.
Mr Phil Gordon, Mayor of Phoenix City in Arizona, the United States; Mr Wan Qingliang, Mayor of Guangzhou City; and Mr Long Yongtu, Secretary General of the Centre for the Study of the G20 and former Secretary General of Boao Forum for Asia, also gave keynote speeches.
“We are heartened that Singapore’s knowledge and experience in creating a modern and liveable city have been highly regarded by the Chinese government,” said Dr Su. “Through initiatives like the Asia-Pacific Mayors’ Forum and the Lien Public Service Excellence Index, NTU hopes to provide more opportunities for government leaders in China to share and learn from one another in their pursuit of excellence in public service.”
Dr Su added that the collaborations between NTU and China are especially significant as this year marks the 20th anniversary of bilateral relations between China and Singapore.
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