Ministry of Education: I served as a member of Curriculum Planning and Development Branch’s Literature Text Selection Advisory Panel, in 2006 and again in 2010.
I was Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Creative Arts Camp jointly organized by NUS Centre for the Arts and MOE’s Gifted Education Branch, in 2003 and 2004. In connection with the latter, I was also Editorial Advisor to the Eye on the World: Engaging Ourselves anthology that arose out of the Creative Arts Camp.
I was a Council Member of the English Language Institute of Singapore (ELIS), chaired initially by PS Education and subsequently by Director-General Education, from 2011 to 2013. ELIS was formed in 2011 with the task of overseeing English Language teaching in Singapore schools as a whole.
In addition to this invited and voluntary work, I was also the paid linguistic editor for Times Publishing’s Ministry of Education Social Studies textbooks used by all primary and secondary schools in Singapore (2001, 2005-2008)
I also served as a member of Advisory Committee for Programmes (English Language and Literature), Singapore Institute of Management (2005-2012).
My involvement with Arts Administration began largely through my serviee as Assistant Director, and subsequently Deputy Director, of NUS’s Centre for the Arts, under then-Director Edwin Thumboo. In addition to my regular responsibilities (at various times) of looking after specific NUS performing groups, and taking charge of literary programmes and publishing under the Unipress label, I also represented NUS in various projects and discussions with arts groups and agencies outside of the university.
I was a member of the National Arts Council Committee on Arts Education (1996-1997), and of the National Book Development Council (1995-1996). I was the Singapore Representative to the ASEAN Literature Workshop Planning Committee (Manila, 1994), where I was elected Vice-President by the other delegates. The Committee was responsible for planning the following ASEAN literature workshop, including matters such as the selection of writers, programme, agenda etc. I was also the leader of Singapore Delegation to the Second ASEAN Universities Arts Council Meeting (Brunei, 1997), leading a team of artistes and academics from NUS. I also led a tour of the NUS Chinese Orchestra to Romania, where I participated in talks on cultural collaborations with arts schools and Ministry of Culture representatives. I was also a member of the Singapore Nominating Committee of the SEA Write Award (2003, 2006), helping to nominate the appropriate Singapore writers for the award.
I worked with Professor Thumboo to set up the Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literature Awards, when we were approached by Montblanc Singapore. I subsequently served as chief judge of the awards from 1996 to1998, where we recognized leading Singapore writers in the various languages.
I worked with the Arts House (Old Parliament House) when they approached the Department of English Language and Literature to establish the NUS-Old Parliament House Writing Fellowship (2004-2010). I became a member of Judging Panel and Co-line Manager for the award, which selected Singapore writers to receive a year-long fellowship to support their creative writing.
I have also done a few things for the National Arts Council, including participating in a poetry reading event, and serving quite actively as a literary assessor for publishing grants.
My involvement with the YMCA movement began when I was invited to write a book on the Metropolitan YMCA in conjunction with their 60th anniversary. My friend Irwin Seet, whom I had known when we were students at NUS and who was a fellow Methodist, had seen my book Sparks of Grace (a history of Methodism in Asia), and had recommended me to the Board. I had a very good experience working with the Board and with the CEO and Deputy CEO on the book project, and had been impressed by the story of courage, determination and service-mindedness that the history of the Metro YMCA embodied. After the completion of the book project, I was surprised when the then-President Lim Kay Kok and then-CEO Phyllis Tan talked to me about serving on the Board. Although reluctant due to my other commitments, I eventually decided to join and see if I could contribute to the slate of very worthy activities that the Metro YMCA conducted, for the poor and elderly, in child care, and in support of youth and family life in Singapore.
I served as a co-opted member of the Board from 2007-2009, and subsequently was made a full member. At that time I was also asked to be one of the Metro YMCA’s representatives to the National Council of YMCAs of Singapore, working with representatives of the YMCA at Orchard Road. (In 2014 I was appointed the Honorary Recording Secretary of the National Council). In 2012, again to my surprise, I was asked if I would stand for the position of 2nd Vice-President of the Metro YMCA, an exco position, in which capacity I served from 2012 to 2016.
As 2nd Vice-President and Exco member, I participated not only in board meetings and decisions on all the activities and projects of the Metro YMCA, but also in strategic planning, finance committee deliberations, and with particular responsibilities for youth programmes.
The Metropolitan YMCA webpage, with more information on the organization and its work, is here.
In addition to my work with the Metropolitan YMCA, I have also done volunteer work in rural India with my former church, serving in a support capacity to doctors and dentists providing free medical services to the rural poor in Uttar Pradesh. When I was living in Chicago, I served in my church food kitchen, helping to disburse food to needy families in the neighborhood. I also took part in the Methodist Church in Singapore’s 125th anniversary project of providing financial aid to underprivileged families in Singapore, “adopting” a family in Bedok and visiting them for the 6-month duration of the scheme. I also regularly support a number of organisations financially, including the Salvation Army, Methodist Welfare Society and Kidney Dialysis Foundation, and of course the Metropolitan YMCA.