PME Conversation - Looking into the overlooked

Photo by Lim Weixiang



    Before I ventured into the media industry, I was actually a policeman for nine years. My grades weren’t good enough for university so I decided to join the police force after my A'levels. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. Both my parents were educated in Madrasahs and my mom was a housewife. As the only son, I wanted to lift the burden of my parents who were already old.

    When I was 28, my father passed away. I used the money I inherited from him to pursue a degree in Media and Communications in Australia. I ended up spending six years in Australia, returning to Singapore with a Masters in Multimedia. My job search was quite tough initially because I was already 34 by then and I was competing with a lot of younger individuals for a job. I managed to find my first job as a programmer but that only lasted six months. Programming wasn’t my strongest suit but eventually I managed to find my niche in broadcasting with MediaCorp's Malay Channel, Suria.

    I think it was a matter of good timing. I joined at a time when the channel was making the transition from
broadcasting in analogue to digital format. The knowledge and skills I had learnt in Australia were put to good use. I spent five years with MediaCorp, rising to the position of deputy head of the channel.

    It was quite a glamorous job. I got to meet lots of celebrities, but we had a big responsibility because the media has the ability to influence and shape the thoughts and values of its audience. Therefore, we had to make sure that the programmes that we broadcast were beneficial to the audience and the community. We had to strike the right balance between entertainment and education.

    I was then headhunted to join the Malay Heritage Centre where I spent three years as Communications and Programs manager. I was proud to do my part preserving and promoting Malay heritage and culture.

    Eventually, I decided to move on to become a lecturer at the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). That was also when I started becoming involved in the union as a branch officer with the Education Services Union. I took up the call to serve because I felt that there was a tendency for workers in the private education sector to be overlooked. I felt that more could be done to protect the rights of the professionals, managers, executives (PMEs) and lower income workers in the private education sector. I see myself as someone who is able to vocalise the concerns of these workers. Over the years, I often raised these concerns during our regular dialogue sessions with NTUC, REACH and other government agencies.

    MDIS has always encouraged its staff to upgrade themselves with new skills and qualifications. In that spirit, I completed my Specialist diploma in Applied Learning and Teaching from Republic Polytechnic. The new skills I picked up have enhanced my teaching and made classroom sessions more interesting for my students.

    I also attend events and talks organised by NTUC, for example, the ‘Future Leaders Summit’ where possible. These NTUC events are usually very informative and have helped me to gain a better understanding of the Singapore economy and equipped me with useful leadership skills.

    The workforce is becoming more educated. There will be more graduates and whitecollar workers who will be more well-informed and more affluent. It is good to know that the foundations are already being laid by NTUC to look after the growing pool of PMEs. At the same time, I think NTUC must continue to fight for the rank-and-file. There will be many baby boomers who will be retiring. They have contributed for most of their lives. The Pioneer Generation package is a great gesture from the government. With living costs rising, many of them may not have enough savings. My hope is that we will continue to find ways to help and assist them.




This story is part of the PME Conversation book which was launched in April 2015. To read more stories, click here.






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