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She is stitching together Singapore’s safety, security and social fabric
By Aster Tan
Ms Ng says that one of the main reasons why she has stayed at MHA for 17 years is the camaraderie she enjoys with her colleagues.
PHOTO: FRENCHESCAR LIM

Policy Development Division deputy director Ng Siew Hua’s colourful career at the Ministry of Home Affairs involves a spectrum of responsibilities, including honing policies that impact the nation

ALL THE THINGS YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT A CAREER WITH MHA

What if you could change jobs every few years and take on exciting roles in different sectors – such as coordinating rehabilitation programmes for inmates, handling media relations for the Singapore Government, or crafting policies that make an indelible mark on our society?

In her 17-year career with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Policy Development Division deputy director Ng Siew Hua has done all these and more – without leaving the same organisation she joined right after graduating with a degree in sociology with honours from the National University of Singapore in 2005.

Not only did she get to learn from experienced mentors and take on strategic postings, she was also involved in significant projects and attended exclusive courses that helped sharpen her leadership skills.

Ms Ng, 40, talks about her journey with MHA, and why it offers attractive career paths for the best and brightest.

Q: What motivated you to pursue a career in MHA?

I first applied for a job at the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) – which is part of MHA – in 2005, as I thought it would be cool to work at SPS.

The MHA Civilian Scheme (Home Affairs Senior Executive) appealed to me as it offered a rotation every few years. By moving around, I would meet more people and learn more things. As a fresh graduate, being able to try out different things before deciding what I wanted to focus on was a huge draw.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

My current role is in policy development, specifically in the areas of race, religion and politics, where I lead a team of three officers.

We conduct research, formulate strategies and implement legislation that impact social cohesion and prevent foreign interference.

We also review existing policies to assess if updates are required. The recently passed Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (FICA) is one example of the kind of work we handle as policy-makers.

Q: Share with us your most memorable experiences.

Through my various roles at MHA, I have been involved in many major events. Highlights include handling the communications for the Little India riot in 2013 and the Trump-Kim summit in 2018, as well as Singapore’s efforts in tackling Trafficking in Persons, and the arrest of individuals who were involved in an international match-fixing syndicate.

I was also involved in the Committee of Inquiry (COI) secretariat team for the Little India riot, which happened during my stint in media relations. It was set up to investigate what had happened and how to prevent such incidents in future.

Q: How has MHA supported you as you take on various roles?

The beauty of MHA’s Home Affairs Senior Executive scheme is in the opportunities to explore the different types of jobs in different Home Team Departments. This exposure helps to enrich one’s knowledge and get us ready for the next role.

I also got the opportunity to be seconded to the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) in 2015 to coordinate whole-of-government communications, a natural extension of my previous roles in media relations at MHA.

While I am now undertaking a new portfolio in policy development, my varied postings in MHA have helped me appreciate the issues we face and better understand some of the considerations behind our decisions.

As part of my growth and development, I was placed in the pioneer batch of the Home Team Leaders-in-Development Programme in 2017. This programme aims to develop future leaders for the Home Team. I was also offered a postgraduate scholarship in 2019 to pursue further studies, where I did my Masters in Political Communications at Goldsmiths College in London.

Q: What is it like to work at MHA?

Even though things can get hectic, there is camaraderie and people help each other out. We have also been blessed with good leaders who set a positive and empowering work culture.

For example, at regular Town Hall sessions, the senior leaders even participate in performances and send organisational messages in a fun way while interacting with staff at all levels.

Q: What advice would you give to interested students?

Do not be afraid to try something new. By embracing opportunities, life can surprise you and help you discover the right career.

Visit mha.gov.sg/careers/scholarships/mha-scholarships/mha-merit-scholarship-(mms) for more information.

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