Maintaining the World’s Top Maritime Centre

Scholarship Guide MPA Scholar Damien Ng

MPA Overseas Scholar Damien Ng hopes to explore the opportunities to keep the Singapore port competitive.

I must admit I did not know much about the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) as it is less related to heartland residents as compared to agencies such as LTA or HPB. However, as I explored the organisation further I became more intrigued by it. I have always known about the port and the maritime sector being an important pillar of our economy, but I would have never expected it to contribute as much as 7 percent to our GDP.

Furthermore, at the time of my application, there were new challenges popping up in the horizon, such as the proposals to construct the Kra Canal in Thailand, competition from neighbouring ports and the increased use of information and communications technology.

I am an individual who loves to solve problems, and am enticed by opportunities that allow me to contribute to the betterment of society. ‘Leave this world a little better than you found it,’ Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement once said. Having been a scout since secondary school, this quote is a principle I live by. Learning about the potential threats our port faces and also about the new projects in place such as the Tuas Next Generation Port, further excited me and it led me to accept the MPA Overseas Scholarship.

A year later while studying at Rice University, I was down at MPA for a summer internship and was assigned to the Next Generation Port Project Office. My main task included creating detailed presentation slides and drafting minutes for meetings with various stakeholders of the Next Generation Port, such as individuals from high-level management, to technical experts and to overseas consultants from other ports. I was very grateful to have had the chance to see first-hand how a multi-million dollar project was managed. I managed to pick up key principles on systems engineering and project management skills with which would certainly be beneficial to me in the future.

Besides my role in this department, I also worked with the HR department to organise WOW Week, which was a week of events for the welfare and bonding among MPA personnel. I was also attached to the Marine Environment and Safety Department for a week. During that time, I was mainly in the control centre learning operating procedures, asking the officers questions about their chain of command, organisational structure, and anything which they thought could be improved.

On my last day, I shadowed a port inspector through his day shift. I experienced many unique and interesting events, such as having lunch at a Tuas drydock, chasing off retirees fishing illegally in the main shipping channel, and testing ­surveillance drones which will potentially be implemented in the Tuas Port to enhance port security. From the insights I gained and the experience colleagues shared, I was able to compile reports on these with suggestions on how to improve the work efficiency. The variety of work I was exposed to during my time as an intern has allowed me to meet people from various departments, giving me a better understanding of what MPA does.

Growing up in Clementi, my family and I would frequent West Coast Park on weekends. While riding my bicycle down the coastline, I would always observe the vessels moored in the anchorages. The sight of these giants floating peacefully always induced a feeling of serenity in me. On my last day as an intern, I unknowingly gazed out of my office building and was greeted by the same sight. I saw countless ships positioned neatly in the anchorages like calculated brushstrokes adding details to the deep blue canvas. I spontaneously felt the same sense of serenity, but this time, there was also a sense of purpose and eager ­energy as I look forward to my next chapter with MPA.

The MPA Overseas Scholarship
Now: Third-year studying Mechanical Engineering at Rice University, USA
From: Hwa Chong Institution