Issue 3 | JULY 2012
Keeping the Public Safe… with a Smile

We speak with Tan Hwee Eng (HE) and Wong Teck Boon (TB), two colleagues from EMA’s Electricity Inspectorate Branch responsible for enforcing technical codes and performance standards. They also ensure a reliable supply of electricity, regulate electrical installation practices and issue licenses to qualified persons for electrical and cable detection work to ensure safe use and reliable supply of electricity.

Q: Hwee Eng, congratulations on winning the prestigious Public Service 21 Star Service Award! How do you feel?

HE: Surprised! I did not know I was nominated for it! But I am happy to be recognised for my good service.

Q: Tell us about the work you do here.

TB: We safeguard consumers’ interests by ensuring the safety of their electricity supply. We do this by licensing electrical installations to ensure owners engage only Licensed Electrical Workers (LEWs), and have their equipments tested regularly. LEWs are assessed before they are issued with an appropriate licence. We also license Cable Detection Workers – people who detect SP PowerGrid’s underground cables and provide the necessary safety measures before commencement of earthwork to prevent the cables from being damaged and causing power disruptions. Spot checks on worksites and conducting festival lighting surveillance to ensure compliance with the Codes of Practice are also a part of our work. We investigate electrical accidents and feedback from members of the public and promote safe use of electricity supply by preparing and distributing handbooks during inspection of worksites and conducting safety talks.

HE: We handle many licence applications and queries from LEWs daily. For their convenience, we have gone online with the e-Licenses Information Services portal (ELISE). Applicants may also use our Internet kiosk at EMA where we are on hand to guide them.

Q: What difficulties do you face in your work?

TB: Dealing with the public can be challenging at times, especially when some of them get impatient or frustrated. But the up side is that many appreciate our efforts in making their premises or neighbourhood safe or explaining policies to them.

HE: As an Administrative Executive, my job requires me to attend to public enquiries over the phone, through email and at the Internet kiosks. As Teck Boon pointed out, it is challenging but I am quite comfortable with it now. Most people are okay, but at times, we do encounter one or two consumers who can be quite difficult to handle. You have got to be patient and explain the procedures to them. People respond well when they see you are trying your best to help. We share our experiences and exchange ideas during regular meetings and we found the exchanges very useful to us.

Q: Do you feel the work your department does is important for Singapore?

TB: Oh yes. EMA regulates electrical safety which keeps our consumers safe.

HE: Definitely. This concerns the safe usage of electricity. We have to be serious about it.

Q: How long have you been with EMA? What made you stay here for so long?

TB: I have been with EMA for more than 36 years. The work environment here is good. There is good work-life balance and over the years, I built up such good friendships with my colleagues. It would be hard to imagine working with a different set of colleagues.

HE: Over 36 years too. Before joining PUB, I used to work long hours in the private sector. The working hours in the public sector are better and the job is more stable, and my husband encouraged me to stay on after having kids. My colleagues are like family to me; they help me go through difficult times. Bonding with them over badminton, squash and carrom is always fun.

Q: How do you take your mind off work in your leisure time?

TB: I exercise, play some badminton and catch up with old kakis. I also enjoy going to the market on weekends to eat and buy groceries.

HE: I love to exercise! I do Liu Tong Quan, which is usually a full body workout done in a group setting and line dancing to keep fit and meet people. I also go shopping on weekends.

Q: What advice would you give to your fellow EMA colleagues?

TB: We must be happy with what we have.

HE: I believe in loyalty to the company. In life, you must be patient. If you do your job well, people will recognise you eventually. When times are hard, I think of my family. The people around you also help to keep you going. I feel like a parent to new colleagues. If they need assistance, I will try to help. Problems are here to stay; we just have to face them with a positive attitude.