​Team leader Shaiful Bahri uses his many creative talents to bring joy and support for his colleagues who work mainly in the SGH underground.

“Baking is my way to connect with my colleagues and support them. Delicious desserts will inevitably lift their moods”, says Shaiful Bahri, who manages a team of 17 porters to handle patient transfers, blood and specimen collections.

“Our porters push patients on trolley beds or wheelchairs, and help with the storage and distribution of ward equipment, blood, other specimens or medication. For example, we have porters deployed at Inpatient Drug Management unit at SGH Blk 4, Level 2. Their primary role is to deliver ‘STAT’ (urgent prescription) to the different wards within 15 minutes upon being ordered. This can be quite stressful for them because of the urgency. They also spend much of their day on their feet with little opportunity to sit down. It can get tiring for any staff, young or old,” Shaiful adds.  

“I would bake cupcakes and muffins to share with them. At the same time, I also play the role of the counsellor, providing a listening ear such as when there are trying days or misunderstanding between colleagues. They enjoy my baking so much that some have even asked me to make custom cookies and cakes for their baby showers and birthday parties,” says Shaiful, 47, who learnt how to bake from his mother. 

Our SGH porters enjoying the yummy cupcakes baked with love by Shaiful.

Baking is also therapeutic for Shaiful who is part of General Services. “My phone is on 24 hours a day to handle any staffing or work emergency as the team works 24/7. Baking helps me destress from dealing with all these staff problems,” explains Shaiful, who has been working at SGH for six years.

This job is a far cry from his previous role as the operations manager of a cineplex and the F&B outlets. He left to become sole caregiver to his parents, managing all their medical appointments and therapy sessions for more than a year.  When their health conditions improved, Shaiful decided to apply for a position in SGH after being inspired by the care shown to his parents by the doctors and nurses.  

In SGH, he took charge of providing portering, as well as mailroom services to the hospital.  “My primary role was to ensure that our team of Healthcare Attendants transport the patients, equipment and supplies to various locations within the SGH campus on time.” His team also manages the delivery of 3000 to 4000 documents and parcels daily to and from the SGH mailroom.

Shaiful working with his mailroom colleagues to sort and deliver 3,000 to 4,000 mails and parcels daily.

His first day at work was an eye-opener as his supervisor brought him to the SGH tunnel - the ‘highway’ used by the various departments such as kitchen, facilities, sterile and linen supplies units, and the warehousing team to serve the hospital. “We walked the entire 2.5 km network twice. I discovered that it links the entire hospital campus together, including the National Heart Centre and the former National Cancer Centre and Academia. It was busy with tow trucks and bicycles zipping in and out,” he adds.  Today, the tunnel also connects to Outram Community Hospital, which is the main operations centre for these support services. 

After getting over the initial shock of working underground, Shaiful grew to love the tunnel. He especially loves the friendships he developed with colleagues who work there. Fluent in Malay, Chinese, Tagolog and some Tamil, which he picked up during his cinema days, Shaiful is able to engage and connect well with the multi-racial community.  "When you make the effort to speak to someone in their native tongue, people are so grateful and friendships often follow,” he says. 

Hard at work...Shaiful designing a bespoke wedding gown to make every bride’s dream dress come true.

One such friend is a Filipina colleague who asked Shaiful - who has sewn over 300 dresses in the last 15 years – to design a wedding dress for her. “She wanted a champagne-colored dress with lace appliques and intricate beading which took more than three months to produce.  I flew to the Philippines to personally present it to the family two days before the wedding. I was very nervous because this was my first wedding dress. When I took it out from the garment bag, both mother and bride burst into tears. Thankfully, it was tears of joy,” says Shaiful with a smile.

Shaiful had learnt how to sew from his mother and would use scraps of materials to sew simple blouses for his sister.  ‘’My grandfather was a tailor who taught my mother who then taught me,” he adds with a grin. “I upgraded my skills by attending master classes overseas and moved from designing simple baju kurung (traditional Malay dress) to bespoke wedding gowns.”  

Shaiful does Zentangle to relax his body and mind.

Not contented with being a baker and tailor, Shaiful has taken up a new hobby. Zentangle is form of meditative doodling art where one creates repeated patterns, known as tangles. “Doing the patterns helps to relax my mind as it requires you to be spontaneous unlike tailoring and baking where I have to be precise when cutting the fabric or measuring out the ingredients,” explains Shaiful. 

“So far I’ve completed over 30 pieces of paper tiles, which I gave away as presents to my colleagues,” he shares.     

A multi-talented Shaiful indeed has many things up his sleeves to bring joy to his colleagues - to lift their spirits when they are feeling down in the tunnel.