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Research Intern Blog: Catherine Ooi Zi Min

Catherine recaps her research experience at Sinar Project as a research intern


Sharing my working experience with Sinar Project just in case you are unsure whether or not to apply for an internship here in Sinar, or you’re simply curious.

As a law student, generally, one would firstly think of applying for a law firm internship as opposed to an internship at NGOs because one thinks that internships for a law student has to be directly related to the legal profession to have an edge over those who have not done any internships. Well, I thought I should embark on something out of my norm and comfort zone. On the side note, I have to admit that I was slightly hesitant to apply to this organization after being introduced by a friend of mine.

Sinar Project is like a fresh air blown at me with the major flood of new jargon in a computer geek’s dictionary with their passion to propel open governance and enhance government’s accountability. What they do may not seem important to the public, but they are the pioneer of "open government" movement in Malaysia as a result of the political climate in the recent decade. Despite my involvement with Sinar as an intern for a month, I have garnered so much valuable knowledge and insights of the operation of an NGO too.

The main project I was involved in was the Representatives where I keyed in basic details of Member of Parliaments (MPs) after conducting basic online research. Besides that, I have entered memberships of MPs in the House of Representatives of Malaysia into the Popit database, which was created for the purposes of allowing the members of the public to utilise a standardised yet simple format of data compiled for any research purposes. Throughout the research, I got more familiar with MPs who are not often mentioned on the media and even discovered interesting background of some of them including their contribution to the society or state, and their stand on certain causes. It is also intriguing to find out that some politicians are initially religious leaders, lawyers, businessmen and even lecturers.

When I began working alongside enthusiastic computer geeks, it is no surprise that they have introduced me to online applications, which I have not heard before. Aside from the infamous Google applications, this includes HackPad, Trello and Slack, which we respectively used to store e-notes, organise on-going tasks and a common instant messaging interface. I was able to quickly adapt to these applications and I’m considering it to be one of the best inventions ever made! Work became easier and productivity is no doubt more efficient.

Perks of working remotely with Internet connection available gave me a fresh perspective of an unconventional yet effective working environment, unlike the standard five days a week, nine to five clock in system where traffic jams during rush hours leads to wastage of time. I think this could be the next big thing, and so many would flood hipster cafes with working tables and chairs with plug points. It’s possible, why not?

MyMP ProfileAs internships comes with the privilege to interact with the people behind Sinar Project, I learned more about future projects they are currently working on such as training workshops for people who wishes to utilise the database for students who wish to conduct a research, building another website known as MyMP based on the Popit database and MCCHR MP Survey , Bill Watcher initiatives and also producing e-Papers (white papers). The people behind this organisation are passionate. Working with them is easy as they are accessible via Slack, an instant messaging interface and they are approachable with easy going and eccentric personalities despite the solemnity of the cause they are working on.

Although I could not be involved in other on-going projects, you will be interested to partake in one of these projects if you have the passion in the area of open governance and freedom of information.

If anyone of you is still contemplating whether to send in your application for an internship with Sinar, well, honestly, as much as the work could get dry and dull, the journey is fruitful and you will be introduced to a different approach towards change for the country’s future. Maybe one day you will become one of the key individuals in the worldwide open data movement? Just give it a shot and you won’t regret it.

Signing off as a Sinar intern and, to infinity and beyond!

About the Author

Catherine OoiOoi Zi Min a.k.a Catherine [LinkedIn]. An intern with Sinar Project for June 2015. A full time law student who will be completing her final year at University of the  West of England, Bristol this coming fall in hopes she will be a lawyer and even an arbitrator once she returns home. Her main interest comprises of medical law, employment law, international law and human rights. She dreams of owning a dainty hipster café with a work station and a mini library if she decides to quit her legal career. Her free time includes lounging at cafés, evening cycles, photography, watching YouTube beauty videos and reading romance fictions or self-development books.


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