From the Chair | Up Close and Personal with the People of Parliament House
12 Jul 2018
Parliament held our Public Service (PS) Week Observance Ceremony on 5 July. We renewed our commitment to serve Singapore and Singaporeans, and also recognised the achievements of our peers. I presented eight Long Service Awards and two Special Awards to Parliament Staff as a form of recognition to their achievements.
I thanked the Award recipients and my Parliament family for their unstinting support, and their commitment and dedication to their duties. They have been working tirelessly behind the scenes in day-to-day matters, and ensuring sittings and all parliamentary business run smoothly.
The theme for this year’s PS Week is “One Public Service: Stepping Up Transformation”, encouraging officers to bring about transformation across the Public Service. Mouthing the slogan is the easy part. The real work is done when we reflect on our roles, understand our impact and how we can contribute towards the growth and development of our nation, and to take action. As the world changes, we must also change the way we operate, whether in terms of policy design, public engagement or service delivery.
I invited 4 Parliament colleagues to share their roles, and how they would inspire or step up transformation. I also took this opportunity to re-create a “then and now” photo moment of them when they first joined Public Service and in the present day. The present-day photos were taken by me to show the Staff who work silently behind the scenes.
Siti Aisyah Binte Safuan
Aisyah: “I have been working in the Education and Publicity Department for 2.5 years. My role is to plan, arrange for and lead tours and educational programmes for visitors to Parliament House. I also manage the operations at ParlConnect at the Parliament Visitor Centre.
I have learnt a lot during my time here and I feel wiser! Due to the nature of my work, it gives me satisfaction when I share information to the students and visitors (local or overseas). I love to interact with students and they never fail to brighten my day! I’m also grateful for the numerous opportunities to be involved in Parliamentary events, which I never thought that I would be part of!
My thoughts on PS transformation is… just do it! Sometimes, one can be too shy or too concerned over what is going to happen. We should not let negativities affect us. One can never avoid making mistakes and we should all grow from them.”
See Toh Chee Kiong
See Toh: “You may have caught a glimpse of me on television or seen my photos at ParlConnect. This is because I am Parliament’s Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms and I have two main roles. First, I perform a ceremonial function as the bearer of the Mace during the procession at every sitting. I will also act on Speaker’s instructions to remove any person from the Chamber - this has not occurred as our MPs are orderly and well-behaved. Second, I am also part of Parliament’s security team.
I agree that it is important for transformation to take place in the Public Service. However, I would call for patience and faith as transformation may not produce immediate, visible results, like many of Singapore’s policies. As for my thoughts on how to implement transformation to Parliament’s Security Department, we are exploring the use of facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence-powered surveillance software. My team and I are always on the lookout to determine if new technology can enhance the security of our premises.”
Chua Lin Hwee
Lin Hwee: “Often times, I hear chatter and questions about who are “those people” in the Chamber, sitting in the row just in front of Speaker. We are from the Clerks’ Department and as Principal Assistant Clerk, I am part of the team. My team advises Speaker and MPs on matters of parliamentary businesses such as questions, motions and procedures. I also handle matters related to a regional parliamentary organisation called the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA).
Since my National Cadet Corps days in Secondary School, I am a strong believer in teamwork and I feel very blessed to be part of the close-knit family in Parliament, that serves our MPs and the public. Although the Parliament Secretariat has a small staff strength of not more than 60 permanent staff, we are compact and everyone takes pride in our work and help each other out. This year is a challenging and busy year for Parliament Secretariat having to organise public hearings, Opening of Parliament and host AIPA meetings. All of us at the Parliament Secretariat rise up to the challenges and do our best as a team. I always receive full support from my colleagues (my bros and sisters) including civil servants from other Ministries. It has been a fruitful and fulfilling journey working in Parliament Secretariat.
I am always exploring options to do things differently. I hope that in the near future, we can use utilise technology and use video calls to communicate and hold meetings with overseas counterparts.”
Fatima: “I am a Chamber Assistant and have been working at Parliament for the past 19 years. My key role is to support MPs during Parliament sittings. I help to distribute relevant materials/notes during sittings and is constantly on the lookout for any requests from MPs.
During Parliament debates, there will be instances where MPs may need to pass messages (for example, requests to speak) to Speaker. I would assist the MPs to seek permission from Speaker. Time is of essence as I carry out my duties.
On non-sitting days, I handle administrative duties that fall within the Corporate Services Department’s purview, like preparing of Order Papers and documents relating to conferences and visits. I feel that every officer should never stop learning and constantly explore new ideas, which will aid in the transformation efforts.
My previous job was a Quality Control officer in a factory in the private sector and when I joined Parliament, I was given on-the-job training. My colleagues were very helpful and eased me into my role. During my years in Parliament, I have also embraced technology which enabled me to communicate better with my colleagues and external parties.”
Thank you Aisyah, See Toh, Lin Hwee and Fatima for sharing about your hard work and thoughts on how to step up transformation. I will continue to support and work with you to achieve Parliament’s goals. To all Public Officers and Parliament Staff, thank you for what you do and please continue to serve the people of Singapore. We will work together to scale new heights, serve Singaporeans better and build a better Singapore for all of us.