PSC-MFA scholar and current Foreign Service Officer Goh Ru Lyn has expressed her delight at recording her thousandth folded napkin. She becomes the fastest ever officer to reach the milestone, a mere three weeks and four days after starting work at MFA. Ms Goh attributed her success to a deep commitment to the public service.
“Obviously holding the record is a huge honour, but I didn’t fold those napkins for the recognition,” she said. “When you’re folding your fiftieth napkin of the day, and your fingers are blistering and your nails are cracking, external rewards won’t motivate you. What kept me going was the knowledge that every crease, every point, and every fan was crucial to maintaining good diplomatic ties with our neighbours. At the end of the day, I could look at all my little Bishop’s Hats, and count the good I did for our country. How many people can say that?”
Notwithstanding Ms Goh’s remarks, sources indicated that external rewards would indeed be forthcoming. “Her performance grade for this year will definitely be an A,” commented one senior MFA insider, who declined to be named. “She’ll probably get six months’ bonus in December. And you have to admire her dedication – we’ve all been there, we know how difficult it is to get the Fleur-de-lis to sit just so, but she’s managed it on every single one. Her Current Estimated Potential’s probably been bumped up two grades.”
The record also vindicated MFA’s much-maligned HR department. Prior to her final year of studies, Ms Goh got into a heated argument with her scholarship officer over where she would do her Master’s. She eventually gave in to HR’s demands and pursued an MA in Global Thought at Columbia University, instead of joining MIT’s prestigious Security Studies programme. Despite her unhappiness at the time, Ms Goh has since graciously admitted it was for the best.
“I was convinced MFA only wanted me to go to Columbia because of the group discount PSC has on Master’s degrees there,” she admitted. “But they’ve always had the country’s best interests, which are of course also my best interests, at heart. I had so much time in New York to host dinner parties and practise folding napkins. If I’d gone to MIT, I’d have been much too busy writing papers, trawling databases, and generally becoming an expert on Southeast Asian security issues to learn the skills necessary for a Foreign Service career. It’s not like knowing the difference between Subic Bay and Fiery Cross Reef is going to help me decide between a Rosebud Fold or a Triple Pocket.”
Despite her achievement, Ms Goh has no intention of resting on her laurels. “I can’t fold napkins forever,” she said. “MFA has so much more to offer. For now, I’m still learning the ropes through different kinds of ground operations, but as I gain experience, I’ll mostly be doing strategic and policy work. One day I might even get to decide the table layout, instead of just following my supervisor’s plans.”
By press time, Ms Goh had updated her LinkedIn to include her latest triumph: “Facilitated summit-level meeting between the thirteen ASEAN + 3 countries. Singularly responsible for arrangement on pork between China and Vietnam.” Delegates confirmed that the garnishing on the char siu was, indeed, perfect.