How do public service officers keep their passion strong?

Posted on Oct 16, 2015

SINGAPORE: These public officers held different work functions, but they have one thing in common – a passion to serve the public. This is what keeps them going. 

“I’ve been working in PUB since 2001,” said assistant engineer Mohammad Marhan Mohd Hanef. “It’s been 14 years. We take samples and maintain the cleanliness of the reservoir.” 

The 37-year-old started as a technician in the Pollution Survey Unit when he joined the Public Utilities Board, now known as PUB. Under its sponsorship, he completed a diploma in water technology and was promoted to his current position. 

“In public service, you have good colleagues,” said Mr Mohammad Marhan. “They always ask you to upgrade yourself.”

His journey of lifelong learning was also inspired by his father, who became section head and senior technical officer at PUB after joining as a despatch rider at the age of 15. He delivered records and water samples from the three reservoirs – Seletar, Pierce and MacRitchie – to the head office at City Hall.

Mohd Hanef Fadel having a friendly chat with a member of the public at the fishing zone of Lower Seletar Reservoir. (Photo: Yeo Kai Ting)

“I stayed for so long because it was quite interesting,” said Mr Marhan’s father, Mr Mohd Hanef Fadel. “They posted me from one reservoir to another reservoir. There’s a lot of experience that I gained from there.”

Now retired, the 67-year-old recalls his secondment to PUB’s British engineering consultant, Binnie and Partners, where he assisted engineers who were building earth dams here. Along with pollution, water hyacinths were also a problem then. Mr Hanef and his colleagues had to clear masses of aquatic plants, which grew quickly in hot weather.

Being part of the team transforming the estuary into a clean reservoir gave him great satisfaction, something his family shares. Mr Hanef’s five brothers also joined PUB, inspired by their grandfather, father and uncle, who worked with the Singapore Municipal Council and Singapore City Council, PUB’s predecessors. Now, his son Mr Mohammad Marhan and several of his nephews are fourth-generation PUB employees.


“I’ve made models for the landscape of Singapore for the last 50 years,” said a former model maker at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Mr . “We do models, we do the concept planning for the architects and planners. Sometimes in the mornings, we have to go for site visits to look at the area and take pictures.”

Mr Cho worked at the then-Urban Renewal Department when he was 19. Since then, he has been making architectural models and witnessed first-hand changes in Singapore’s urban landscape.

Mr Cho Sai Chee looking at some architectural models he had helped construct . (Photo: Yeo Kai Ting)

“They assigned me to do the model of the central area, then we have to do the concept planning – that was the most challenging one. For those detailed ones, we have to really study all the drawings, the buildings and how we can do it in different parts, like the podium, ground floor, tower block and so on.”

Over the years, he has created over 1,000 of these models. He was re-employed with URA after reaching retirement age in 2006 as he wanted to continue pursuing his passion.

A model of the Singapore masterplan at URA Gallery. (Photo: Yeo Kai Ting)

“When I joined URD and started to build models and see how architects and planners do their planning, that really inspired me to carry on to see the whole Singapore develop till today,” said Mr Cho, who finally retired for good just four months ago, at the age of 70.

watertechnology – Bing News