Name: Naomi Lin Jialin
Year Awarded Scholarship: 2015
Scholarship Scheme: AGD Accountancy Scholarship
Undergraduate University: National University of Singapore
Undergraduate Course: Business (Accountancy)
1. Why did you take up an AGD scholarship?
I came from a humble family background. Despite my parents’ modest salaries, my siblings and I never lacked anything because of their financial prudence. Government subsidies and bursaries helped too.
In my junior college years, I was especially interested in the issue of international aid to less developed countries. It occurred to me that international aid is not beneficial if a large part of the money is irresponsibly used to support bloated bureaucracies and sustain corrupt governments.
A career with the Accountant-General’s Department (AGD) was a good fit because I would be able to review financial policies to ensure the optimal allocation of resources. My family was a beneficiary of the system in the past. I hope to pay it forward to future generations.
2. What opportunities for development have you been given as an AGD scholarship holder?
I had opportunities to attend dialogues with experienced policy makers. It was interesting to hear the rationales behind existing policies and to clarify our doubts with them.
I also attended preparatory courses which taught me about the fundamentals of good governance in Singapore. A particular activity left a deep impression on me. I was playing the role of a low-income worker who had a family to feed. Throughout the simulation, I had to deal with unexpected events. My meagre monthly income and low financial buffer meant that I was unable to deal with the emergencies. I ended the game heavily in debt and even needed to borrow from loan sharks at one point! It was a sobering reminder that my in-game circumstances were everyday realities for some Singaporeans.
Other than these, I also got to attend some of AGD’s corporate events, where I mingled with and bonded withmy future colleagues. Additionally, AGD assigned a working mentor to me from whom I gained much invaluable advice. Periodically, AGD sends out newsletters detailing the latest developments in government policies and accounting standards, allowing me to stay updated.
3. Share with us a couple of highlights from your scholarship journey.
I enjoyed my hostel life in NUS immensely. I made many close friends from all walks of life and tried many new experiences. Some experiences allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and pushed the boundaries of what I thought I could achieve. In my hostel, I also had opportunities to attend exciting, and sometimes controversial, academic forums. These forums touched on important topics such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and religious extremism. We even had a mock US presidential debate and election.
Another highlight is the 6-month exchange programme to Beijing, which was an eye-opening experience. Over there, while I observed some aspects of Chinese society that made me appreciate Singapore even more, I also realised how much Singapore has to learn from other countries. For instance, Beijing boasts an almost cashless society. However, what is most striking is not the ubiquity of electronic payments, but how willing the population is to embrace the new and the unknown. In the span of few years, almost everyone, from young to old, has embraced the new system. For Singapore to achieve our vision of being a smart nation, we need to be less resistant to change, especially in a constantly changing world.
4. What is your burning ambition for your Public Service (or insert agency name) career and how would you go about achieving it?
I believe that our quality of life is intricately tied to the quality of our governance. Even with our internationally recognized governance practices, we must not rest on our laurels. I hope to contribute to maintaining and improving upon these standards when I graduate.
My focus as of now is to sharpen the skills required to be a professional, capable and people-centric accountant. I am also excited about the upcoming internship with AGD.