Left: Chua Fang En is a MCI Information Service Scholarship recipient, and she holds a Bachelor of Human, Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge and a Master of Arts in Global Thought from Columbia University. Fang En currently works as an Assistant Manager in the Media Analytics & Operations Department, Media Division of MCI.
Right: Foo Yong Xiang is an Assistant Manager working in the Translation Department, Public Communications Division of MCI. He graduated from NUS with a Bachelor of Arts and is a recipient of the MCI Information Service (Translation) Mid-Term Scholarship.
Every day, our lives are inundated with information, from binge-watching shows to swiping between social media apps and receiving messages through pop-ups and marketing emails. Amidst the rapidly changing media landscape, the need for the Government to communicate information across effectively and impactfully is highly pertinent.
This makes the role of the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) important as it plays a key role in driving public communications and ensuring that messages are communicated clearly and effectively to citizens, so that they understand and are engaged on national and social issues.
MCI oversees the development of the infocomm technology, cyber security and media sectors. It also ensures that the Singapore Government’s information and public communication policies are delivered in a clear manner to engage citizens on national and social issues.
Taking on this important work are Scholars Chua Fang En and Foo Yong Xiang who have excelled in their respective fields at MCI.
Fang En is currently an Assistant Manager in the Media Analytics and Operations Department under the Media Division. Her work focuses on timely and accurate media sensing and analysis of Government issues to facilitate stronger decision-making. She is a recipient of the MCI Information Service Scholarship.
Yong Xiang is an Assistant Manager in the Translation Department under the Public Communications Division which focuses on integrated public communications to enhance communications through effective translations. He was awarded the MCI Information Service (Translation) Mid-Term Scholarship.
We spoke to both Fang En and Yong Xiang to learn more about their scholarship journeys and the passion that they have for their work.
What drew you to apply for a scholarship with MCI and pursue your careers in your respective fields?
Fang En: I have always been interested in how narratives are crafted and framed. This inspired my interest in sociology and anthropology – a desire to learn more about the society we live in, and the relations that bind and motivate people. This is why I chose the field of communications, to connect with people through powerful narratives.
When I was exploring the different scholarship options on the BrightSparks website, MCI stood out to me as an organisation that could offer me exposure to a broad spectrum of portfolios within Government communications – media sensing (which I am currently involved in), media engagement and public campaigns.
In fact, the role of MCI is extremely relevant in the current world of big data and disinformation and above all, during times of crisis such as the pandemic and climate crisis. The challenge of connecting to people and keeping Singaporeans engaged is one that I found not only necessary but deeply meaningful.
Yong Xiang: Interestingly, my passion and flair for translation was a chance discovery after I was selected to represent my Junior College in a National Translation Competition. Applying for the MCI Information Service (Translation) Scholarship was therefore a perfect fit for my interest.
Translation is an art. A good translator can take in text rendered in one language and paint it in another language for people from different cultural backgrounds to enjoy. To be the bridge across cultural gaps bringing people closer together through the art of translation, how wonderful is that?
How did your MCI scholarship support you during your university education?
Fang En: MCI provides funding for developmental programmes such as overseas exchange and summer school programmes during our studies. They were very supportive and flexible in accommodating the programmes that I was keen to participate in – Notably, they sponsored my summer programme at Peking University in Beijing, which was an especially memorable experience as it offered me a vastly different experience from my undergraduate studies in the U.K.
Through the scholarship, I also had the opportunity to intern at MCI which enabled me to learn more about MCI’s work and witness the COVID-19-related communication efforts, including the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) Press Conferences.
Yong Xiang: As a mid-term scholar, I was awarded the scholarship right before my final year of university. I find that being a late bloomer can be a blessing as I could keep my options open as an undergraduate and decide when I was clearer about my career aspirations.
Could you share with us how your university education has prepared you for your work in MCI?
Fang En: I specialised in sociology and anthropology for my undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge and found anthropology very useful in navigating media and public sensing. A lot of MCI’s work – connecting to the people – can be linked to anthropology as it is fundamentally about understanding what motivates people, how they think and how one can see things better from their perspectives.
I also studied the rise and impact of social media from a theoretical lens as a sociology student, including the rise of online activism and disinformation. This has enhanced my understanding of the current media landscape – one that is increasingly fragmented and shifting online.
Yong Xiang: My training in both history and translation studies at NUS has equipped me with critical thinking and logical reasoning skills to analyse and criticise a large amount of information. I can think deeper and develop a more nuanced understanding of information and events, which in turn, allows me to become a better translator capable of producing contextualised and accurate translations.
Could you elaborate more about your current roles?
Fang En: I am part of the Online Team in the Media Analytics and Operations Department, where I monitor online news reports and reactions/ sentiments as part of my daily duties. I am also involved in media cultivation and engagement.
Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of the Press Cocktail Organising team, where I helped to organise the networking event between Government comms officials and media colleagues - the first in three years since the pandemic.
Yong Xiang: Currently, I work in the Translation Department under the Public Communications Division. As a Translation officer, I help translate key Government communications materials and assist in multiple translation-related projects in the National Translation Committee – for example, developing SG Translate Together, a one-stop translation web portal which allows users to generate “uniquely Singapore” localised translations and submit post-edited translations.
I am also attached to the Joint Communications Centre, where I assist in the coordination of whole-of-government information operations.
Lastly, what would you say to aspiring scholars looking to join MCI?
Fang En: Keep an open mind – be ready to pick up new skills and learn about topics which you may have not been exposed to before, even if these may seem daunting at the start!
Yong Xiang: The MCI family is a close-knitted one. You will appreciate the flexible work arrangements that MCI provides and the camaraderie and teamwork between colleagues.