As part of its 25th Anniversary celebrations this year, the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information unveiled the inaugural WKWSCI Impact Awards. The awards were given out on Nov. 3 at the 25th Anniversary Alumni Recognition dinner, held at the National Gallery. Faculty members, alumni and guests gathered to network and catch up with one another at the event.
Nur Syahidah Alim (M.Sc’13) and Wei Liang Chiang (CS’12) received the Emerging Star Award, while Tiffany Ang (CS’07) and Au Kheng Sheng (Clarence) (CS’01) won the WKWSCI Impact Award.
The Emerging Star Award recognises meritorious alumni in the early stages of their career. The WKWSCI Impact Award is given to alumni who have made a difference in their industry or society through their achievements and leadership abilities. The awards were presented by Professor Ang Peng Hwa and Associate Professor Benjamin Detenber respectively.
WKWSCI Alumni Magazine spoke to two winners of the inaugural awards.
Nur Syahidah Alim, Recipient of WKWSCI Emerging Star Award: Pushing Boundaries
Amidst a line of archers standing poised with their bows, one shoots with equal precision — from a stool. She is Nur Syahidah Alim, a Team Singapore para-archer. Despite being born with cerebral palsy, the 32-year-old believes that is not a reason to limit oneself, and pushes herself in all aspects of her life.
“I got bullied a lot as a child, but after I graduated from secondary school I changed my outlook in life and started picking up sports like swimming and archery,” she said.
The ASEAN Para Games archery champion first tried her hand at the sport at a disability expo when she was 18. “I was just shooting recreationally on the weekends, until my mum suggested I try out for the national team in 2014,” she said.
Syahidah is one of two winners of the Wee Kim Wee Emerging Star Award. The other award went to Wei Liang Chiang, an independent filmmaker.
After secondary school, Syahidah held leadership roles in co-curricular activities and picked up French at Singapore Management University, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Sociology. She then applied for a spot in the Masters in Science and Knowledge Management programme at WKWSCI.
She cites her mother as her greatest inspiration. “She always tells me that I shouldn’t care about what others think. Just do what I’m supposed to do,” she said. “This keeps me motivated every time I want to do something big or go out of my comfort zone.”
Her ultimate dream as an athlete is to be on both the Paralympic and Olympic podiums. And although she qualified for the 2017 SEA Games, her application to compete alongside able-bodied archers was rejected in March. According to the SEA Games Federation, shooting while seated on a stool was an unfair advantage to other athletes.
However, she has since put that setback behind her and has now set her sights on a podium finish at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
“My mum always tells me that I shouldn’t care about what others think. Just do what I’m supposed to do.”
Team Singapore Para-archer
As part of her training, Syahidah chooses to train alongside able-bodied archers. For her, the greatest obstacle she faces in sports is the society’s perception of disability. There will always be those who look down on those with disabilities, she said.
“But once people give me a chance, I will definitely prove myself. I don’t need to tell them that I can do it, I’ll just show them.”
To Syahidah, winning the Wee Kim Wee Emerging Star Award is more than just another shiny medal.
“Not many para-athletes are recognised for the impact they have on society, so it’s a real honour to me,” she said. “Hopefully, getting this award can encourage others with disabilities to do something they’re passionate about, and to do it with purpose.”
WKWSCI Alumni Advisory Board
The board was unveiled at the Alumni Recognition Dinner as well.
With a rapidly changing digital landscape, WKWSCI wants its students to be fully prepared. Members on the Board members are alumni who have become thought leaders in the communications and information field in Singapore and overseas.
Board members are: Wong Voal Voal (CS’97), Chua Chin Hon (CS’98), Angeline Poh (CS’99), Eugene Wee (CS’99), Joanne Yap (CS’02), Linda Lee (CS’04), Adrian Yeap (CS’07), Sam Kang Li (CS’09) and Sarah Thiam (CS’15).
They will serve for a minimum period of two years, and new members will be invited to join the board annually.
Tiffany Ang, Recipient of WKWSCI Impact Award 2017: Exploring the International Reporting Stage
Tiffany Ang was on her way to Bangladesh to report about the Rohingya exodus when she received the news in September that she was a winner of the inaugural Wee Kim Wee Impact Award.
Ang is one of two winners of the WKWSCI Impact Awards this year. The other recipient is Clarence Au, Special Assistant and Press Secretary to Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.
In her speech at the alumni dinner, Ang said that she was honoured to be the only journalist out of the four winners, and that the award came at a time where “strong and impactful journalism is under threat”.
The 33-year-old is based in Kuala Lumpur and currently works for Al Jazeera Media Network’s weekly current affairs programme 101 East as a producer.
She scours social media for story ideas while in the office but swaps her high heels for boots when chasing a story, which typically lasts from dawn to dusk.
Ang’s most rewarding story to date is “The Gift of Sight”. Along with renowned Nepalese eye doctor Dr Sanduk Ruit, her team trekked into the Himalayan mountains in July to film him performing cataract surgeries free of charge for the poor.
In one particular case, a blind elderly lady had her eyesight restored following a procedure performed by the doctor. “She went from a frail and quiet woman to a feisty grandmother,” Ang said. “I’ll admit — I cried in that moment.”
Prior to working at Al Jazeera, Ang was a producer at Channel NewsAsia, where she covered dialogue sessions by former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and other current affairs documentaries. After three years at CNA, she was eager to step up to the international reporting stage and learn more, she said.
Ang then wrote to the Executive Producer of Al Jazeera, who remembered her from 2006, the year she shared with the news network a video she had made in Nepal as part of the Going Overseas For Advanced Reporting team.
“The biggest struggle is that I’m constantly exposed to people’s pain and sometimes it’s not easy to leave it at the door.”
Producer at Al jazeera
It was a happy coincidence for Ang that the producer was looking for a new member in the 101 East team, and she has never looked back since.
But work is not always a bed of roses. Ang often meets victims of abuse and must strike a balance between being professional and empathetic.
“The biggest struggle is that I’m constantly exposed to people’s pain and sometimes it’s not easy to leave it at the door,” she said. One such case was when she was covering a story on clergy sexual abuse in the Philippines in February earlier this year.
The victims were afraid to report an errant priest because the church was very powerful there, she said. She juggled chasing stories and protecting their identities, which saw her buying new clothes for each interview or filming in obscure locations to avoid detection.
Ang strives to create impact with every story, one of which is a 2014 expose of a Cambodian shoe factory that used child labour to produce Asics running shoes.
“After days of trying to get in touch with Asics, the head office finally responded and offered to take care of the affected families until their children were old enough to work,” said Ang.
She initially kept her parents in the dark about her career plans to be a film or television director — she told them she was studying to get a career in public relations instead.
“They thought [public relations] paid well and was less dangerous. But they figured out what I was up to quite quickly when I came home with cameras and audio equipment,” she said.
She hopes that her career can highlight the role of Asian journalists in the media industry.
“I’ve noticed a weak representation of Asian role models. The faces and accents we see on television are often white or Western-educated, and I would like to change that.”