For The Record...
"In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore, Zainudin (Nordin, FAS President) reiterated that the S-league will not become a "poorer cousin" once the LionsXII start their Malaysia Cup campaign."

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Q & A with Mr Ammar Sachak (aka A S Dwight), formerly with TODAY

Mr Ammar Sachak served his six-month internship with TODAY, the local free daily, under the pen name - "AS Dwight".

During his time with the paper, the 19 year-old from Melbourne covered mainly S.League football and did some stories on the local sporting scene as well.

In this Q & A session, Ammar shared with us his insights and opinions on local sports scene during his time in Singapore.

(Picture) Ammar (left) with the blogger.

Ammar's Q & A

1)Please do tell us a bit of yourself like your background.
"I’m 19 years-old. I finished school in 2007 and in 2008 I completed the first year of my three-year Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) degree at RMIT University.

I have always wanted to be involved with the media and thought my personality would be suited to journalism but now I am starting to think about going into PR!"

2)How and why did you end up in Singapore to do your internship as we always thought Australian sporting scene are more vibrant and exciting as compared to the rather mundane environment in Singapore?
"You are right. The sports scene in Singapore cannot compare to Melbourne. But there are not many cities in the world that have the world class sporting events and facilities Melbourne has. I am lucky to have grown up in a sporting culture and my passion for sports can be partly attributed to where I grew up.

My mom was born in Singapore and I have a few relatives and friends in Singapore. I wanted to take a year off university.

There was an opening at MediaCorp and doing something related to my course was the logical thing to do. I had accommodation and because I had visited Singapore many times, I felt safe there. Plus Singapore has Nasi Lemak!"

3)How tough was it when you first arrived in a foreign land and what sort of preparation you had done prior making trip "Up Above" from "Down Under"?
"In terms of living arrangements and transport I didn’t have a problem.

But working full-time was tough. I only had a couple of part-time jobs in 2008 which I fitted around university so there was no way of preparing being a full-time journalist.

There was never a point that I felt uncomfortable in Singapore. I had enough money thanks to working last year and the transport is so easy to use and accessible so after a few weeks I got to grips with country. Service people are friendly and happy to help (just like Melbourne).

One thing you may not know is that the first two months (of a total six months), I was put on the sub-editing desk. I had no experience in sub-editing and designing pages. It was clearly the toughest two months of my eight month stay in Singapore.

I learnt a lot about the ‘back-end’ process of a newspaper but sub-editing is not something that I have any interest in. When I was asked to transfer to the sports desk, I didn’t even have to think about it."

4)How does this internship system works? is it an important part for your school curriculum?
"The internship was voluntary. In our last year at university, we undertake a compulsory internship but I thought I might as well do this since I have the opportunity and this sort of experience is invaluable."

5)What was your first assignment while serving your internship with TODAY?
"My first assignment at TODAY was probably designing some Foreign page to do with Barack Obama’s inauguration. The foreign pages are the easiest to do so I mainly did them.

My first assignment on the sports desk was covering Brunei DPMM’s historic first league match in Singapore.

It was on my second day working on the sports desk. For the first two days, I followed the other sports reporters around on covering various events and press conferences. Then out of the blue, the sports editor asked me to cover the DPMM v Young Lions S-League match. I couldn’t believe my luck.

Getting the first byline was such a good feeling. I have been to countless football matches but I will never forget this match. No one gave DPMM any chance and they went behind but in true Simunic fashion they scored a late equalizer and gave Singapore a glimpse of their fighting spirit. I was not confident writing the match report even though it was only 300 words but in the end it came together and the next morning I told all my friends.

Along the way, I did also several radio grabs for 938 LIVE radio which was a good experience."

6)Based on question (5), in what way did it help to shape your opinion on Singapore sports scene?
"I covered a lot of S-League. I had no prior knowledge of Singapore football so that one match alone did not give me a lot insight into the local sports scene. But after only four months, I consider myself a bit of an expert on Singapore football. After conducting countless interviews with the coaches, players and officials, it’s impossible not to be knowledge on the sports scene."

(Picture) Ammar at work - listening attentively to SAFFC's coach Richard Bok after the Warriors' semi-final win over Home United in the League Cup campaign.

7)What was the most challenging part during the stint?
"I only got a taste of journalism. I’m sure the journalism scene in Australia is very different but the fundamentals remain the same. It’s important to work with smart and capable people.

There were so many other aspects of the job that annoyed me. I learnt that coaches and players stuff journalists around all the time – especially if they don’t know the reporter. So many times, I had to change appointments at short notice.

There is a lack of consideration for the media in Singapore (in the sports scene anyway). I think athletes should treat reporters with more respect. Maybe they are not scared of the press?

In Melbourne, there are several sports writers whom I admire because they are not afraid to criticise and question athletes when they show a lack of respect.

As much as I enjoyed covering school sports (some of my favourite stories were on school sports), almost every school does not know how to deal with the media. I’m sure this isn’t just a Singapore thing.

Principals and teachers are scared of the press and there were a couple of uncomfortable interviews where teachers would butt in and make sure the students didn’t say anything possibly controversial or outside the box."

8)Based on question (7), how did you overcome it?
"It’s important to show thick skin and focus on the job at hand. I just try and make my interviews as interesting as possible. There were several times where I couldn’t ask the questions I wanted to ask which is very frustrating. As an intern, I didn’t care that much but if this happened in the future, I think I would be more firm and not allow to be pushed around as easily."

(Picture) Ammar's "farewell" story - Bryan Soane's affair

9)You broke your last story - Young Australian striker Bryan Soane's contractual dispute with Balestier Khalsa, given its controversial nature and being a intern chasing this story, how intriguing was it and what have you gained in terms of experience throughout the whole incident?
"That was a good story. I knew I had to do a follow up and I was hell bent on writing the story before my internship finished. It was somewhat fitting that it was my last published story.

It is unfortunate that this sort of thing happens in Singapore football. There are many things that were said during my interviews that I was disappointed to hear.

The story was current and needed to be published. A young kid cannot just leave Singapore without telling his employer. Allegations about mistreatment from his teammates and not being paid wages and airfares only added to the situation. I feel sorry for Bryan Soane and I wish him all the best in the future."

10)Are you likely to come back to Singapore for any career advancement opportunity in the near future, if being offered to do?
"Singapore is definitely an option.

Probably not as a journalist however. I have seen the lifestyle the ‘Ang-mos’ live and it is something I would carefully consider.

I like Singapore but I am not sure I want to move there when I am still young.

I’m afraid to say it is not a very exciting place. There are a lot of reasons to move when I’m a bit older – but not now."

11)Was it a fulfilling outing for you, during your stay in Singapore?
"I enjoyed an incredible eight months! No regrets. I met some fantastic people (including the writer of this website) and I can’t wait to come back and visit."

Many Thanks to Ammar for his time to share with us his insights and views on local sports and journalism scene.

Let's wish him well and all the best in his studies and hope he can contribute in a way or another to local journalism in the near future.


  1. great interview pohui! btw happy birthday!
    ammar if you are reading this... we will all miss you!

  2. Hi "Cloud"...

    Thanks for both birthday and compliment for the Q & A

    With Regards

  3. ammar! i was wondering where you had gone.. so you've gone back!! come back and join us if you have the time to do so!


  4. Excellent interview Pohui...can see that you are going places with great progress of your blog over the last few years...

    Did talk to Ammar recently on Facebook chat, and I do look forward to seeing him again in Singapore, or meeting him in Melbourne (whichever come first). He is certainly a great lad to be with.

    Meanwhile, Happy birthday!

  5. Good one Pohui...I never knew who is this A.S Dwight till today....And happy birthday.

  6. Thanks guys... I felt someone like Ammar would gave us a slightly different perspective and glad he did :)


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