Master’s Degree in Public Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Bachelor's Degree in Political Science, Barnard College, New York, United States


Malay, English

The United Nations is a form of living history, and my writing preserves that history. I love reading the news and knowing that sometimes our work is the news. The issues we deal with are relevant to everyone, and span all fields: human rights, economics, politics, governance, war and peace, agriculture and industry, social services, climate and the environment. I feel like I am being of service to the world.

My prior professional background was eclectic: I once worked as an oil surveyor, inspecting cargo arriving at the port of Singapore. I traveled around Malaysia studying the handicraft industry to write an analysis for the Malaysian Handicraft Development Agency. In the United States, I worked at a public opinion research firm, analyzing American opinions on such issues as crime and taxes; our clients were often state governments. In London, I worked for the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management, an international organization that plans conferences attended by presidents, prime ministers, business leaders, and grass roots groups. I also did freelance writing, authoring reports for watchdog organizations that monitor large industries.

Having enjoyed my work with a branch of the Commonwealth Secretariat, I saw great potential for multilateral organizations, and in 2004 I applied for a job at the United Nations—the biggest public policy organization in the world, and a place where I could put my public policy master’s degree as well as my writing and research skills to good use. On a personal level, the Organization appeals to me because my childhood was steeped in international relations; my father served in the Malaysian foreign service, and I grew up in Japan, Libya, Los Angeles, London and Brunei.

I was hired as a Press Officer to cover meetings at the United Nations Secretariat. External journalists are not allowed to do this - so our summaries are one way for them to learn about what happens in these meetings. We report on General Assembly sessions where heads of state and government, ministers and representatives of permanent missions to the United Nations speak and elaborate on their various country positions on a variety of global matters; on the meetings of the various committees of the Assembly and the other substantive bodies of the organization; as well as on Security Council deliberations which address the various threats to world peace, development and stability on a daily basis. Every morning, I read the news online and check the United Nations Journal to see what is happening for the day. We work in pairs, and on an average day my partner and I spend six hours in a room full of diplomats, writing real-time reports about what they are saying on critical global issues. At the end of the day, we publish a news summary on our website.

In my first year, I covered the 2005 World Summit, including meetings of the Second Committee of the General Assembly (Economic and Financial). Bill Gates, the Chairman of Microsoft, addressed the committee on why it was imperative for donors to keep financial aid flowing to developing nations in order to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, especially those which address eradicating extreme poverty and hunger as well as combating HIV and AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. It was interesting how the United Nations brought together government representatives and an affluent, private-sector figure to talk about the nitty-gritty, and not just abstract principles. I also covered the first meetings of the Peace-building Commission, which reinforced my sense that the United Nations was a forum for achieving practical things.

In 2009, I was part of the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team. We asked governments to submit video statements about a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. It was a groundbreaking idea, and we received videos from countries large and small; even the Pope sent a video. You can check them out on the Summit on Climate Change Website. Being part of this summit, at which Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao made their first appearances at the United Nations, was important because climate change affects us all, especially young people who will inherit the earth.

Outside of work, I am always pleasantly surprised by the number of people I meet that are really interested in the United Nations. They always want to know more and ask a ton of questions about who I have met and what issues are hot. It is an Organization that a lot of people admire.

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