Singapore has a unique identity as a nation – a mix of people made up of different ethnicities. This unique multiculturalism defines us. History has not always like this though, with our country once a fractured society during turbulent times of strife. It is through the efforts of organisations such as the People’s Association (PA) that have worked on building Singapore into the peaceful and stable nation that we live in today.
Joining the cause in promoting social cohesion in Singapore are PA scholars Muhammad Naufal and Elin Tay. They tell us about their aspirations in serving the people of our nation by joining the PA.
The Drive to Make a Difference
For certain people, the desire to serve the community is something that’s just in their bones. Naufal and Elin have a profound interest in working with people to help improve their lives. According to Naufal, joining PA was always something he wanted to do. “The thing that interested me the most had to be the opportunity to make a stark, positive difference in people’s lives through growing their communities. I wanted a career which allowed me to work directly with the various communities that make up our sunny island. It just intrigues me that there is so much that can be done to improve the cohesiveness of the social fabric in Singapore,” he muses.
In Elin’s case, her decision to join PA came about from her volunteering experience with the Boon Lay Community Club Youth Executive Committee (CC YEC). “I am a believer that strong communities are building blocks of a strong and united society. I was initially unaware of what PA did during my time with Boon Lay CC YEC, but volunteering allowed me to experience the difference community engagement at the grassroots level can make in our society. After discovering that PA was behind these grassroots committees, my interest was sparked. So I applied for the PA scholarship to further explore my interest towards fostering a greater and better community for all,” she explains.
Muhammad Naufal Zahin Azmi
Overseas Undergraduate Scholar
Student, Bachelor of Arts in Politics
King's College, London
Career Development Opportunities
Beyond education, PA also provides a structured career development and advancement plan for its scholars. Naufal enlightens us more on this issue, telling us that PA provides summer internships where scholars are able to get first-hand experience in working on community projects with grassroots and PA leaders. “These internships are designed for you to learn and play a part in the planning and implementation phases of outreach and engagement projects. Experiences like these are important as we only get to see the end products of projects in our everyday lives. Therefore, sometimes we discount or take for granted the amount of effort that has been put into organising them,” he elaborates.
This structured development plan for scholars continues after graduation as well. Naufal shares, “You will be exposed to opportunities that serve to enhance your engagement experience with grassroots organisations as well as job placements in various strategic units, along with participation in overseas learning opportunities.”
Elin chips in, adding that PA scholars get hands-on opportunities to be on-the-ground and be actively involved with the community through projects, events, and outreach. She adds, “Through PA, I had the opportunity to attend the Preparatory Seminar for scholarship holders in the public service. Being able to network and interact with scholars from various organisations, I gained a better understanding of the public sector through discussions with my peers on what working in the public sector really entails.”
Elin Tay Zong Hui
Local Mid-Term Undergraduate Scholar
Student, Bachelor of Arts and Social Science in Communications and New Media
National University of Singapore
What the Future Holds
Naufal excitedly tells us of what he’s looking forward to, saying, “I will return to PA as a Constituency Manager, where I will work with a team to engage and organise projects for my community. I aspire to improve and increase the areas for common spaces in Singapore; boosting social integration and cohesion where everyone is free to pursue their passion and has proper support networks to do so. I think the PA is at the nexus of the bridge between the government and residents, sensing what the society is thinking about, their cares and concerns, as well as helping to communicate government policies to residents, helping them make sense of the more complicated ones. I look forward to playing this important role, and collectively with my fellow peers in the PA and the wider public service, bond all residents together.”
Elin shares Naufal’s enthusiasm, telling us, “I will have the chance to be placed in various strategic units of PA and given the platforms to work with people from all walks of life – including my own colleagues as well as grassroots volunteers who share the same passion. In Boon Lay CC YEC, I have already had the opportunity to work with staff from PA. It will be exciting to finally be in their position and be able to harness and maximise the passion and energy of the grassroots leaders I work with!”
“I look forward to seeing a tangible impact in the very community and society we live in through my work – to make the community a better place and a warm home for all where they feel engaged and belonged through community projects, development, and outreach,” she concludes.