Launching a political career isn’t for the faint of heart. In recent weeks, several young and bright female professionals contesting in the upcoming General Elections 2015 have captured the public’s imagination with their spunk and heart. Read our short Brave Heart series of profiles for a snapshot of the candidates and what they stand for. Here is the fourth, on the People’s Action Party candidate Sun Xueling.
“Our journey was not paved by the talkers, the critics, or to men who just point out how the strong men stumble. Rather, it has been the path of the doers, the makers of things and the people who take responsibilities that have taken us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and stability.”
– Excerpt from Sun Xueling’s speech on Sept 3, 2015 at the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC rally
SUN XUELING, 36
Occupation: Investment director at Temasek Holdings
Background: Xueling is married with a two-year-old daughter. She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Upper Hons) in Economics from the National University of Singapore, and also has a masters degree in science from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She began her career in 2003 with the Economic Development Board, following which she worked for DBS Bank, and then moved to Hong Kong to work for Macquarie Capital Securities and Deutsche Bank there. In 2014, Xueling joined Temasek as a director.
Political Party: People’s Action Party
Contesting In: Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC
Why She Entered Politics: “My ah ma was actually the one who encouraged me to do it, as she had a hard life and she knew how important help was to the needy. I also realised that when you engage yourself in trying to solve the problems of others, your own dim in significance and you become a happier person. I see politics as a way for me to do more than just community service. I’ve come in touch with local issues but once you go into politics, you get a chance to affect policies on a national front.”
How She Started with PAP: In 2001, Xueling started to volunteer at PAP’s Meet-The-People Sessions in Buona Vista, as it was near to NUS where she was an undergraduate. She also served as the Assistant Secretary of the Youth Sub-Committee of the Buona Vista Community Club 2004 and Assistant Secretary of the Buona Vista Community Club in 2006.
Pet Issues: As a parent, she feels it is her duty be the voice of her peers and that of working mums. “I can understand pressures that (young parents) face. I hope to have the opportunity to see if I can help make their lives easier, happier and better, whether through the provision of quality childcare or eldercare facilities to make sure that there is support for the family unit, or to see how we can ensure that we all enjoy sustainable and rewarding careers.”
She also wants to contribute to the debate on growing Singapore’s economic pie, which she sees as a potential solution to the emotive issue of immigration. This issue resonates with her, as she is married to a 37-year-old Beijing-born new citizen who is an IT entrepreneur.
Her Experiences So Far: She faced a slew of online xenophobic backlash when she was introduced by her hanyu pinyin name as a PAP candidate (instead of her other name, Soon Sher Rene), as some netizens had mistaken her for a former China national. To this, she said: “When economic growth slows, the pie is a lot smaller. So when someone gets a slice at your expense, you feel robbed. I thought, there must be an underlying reason why netizens felt that way. They must be feeling that new immigrants were seizing opportunities from them. For me, the takeaway was that we should try to make the cake bigger and allocate the slices fairly.”
Interesting Facts: Xueling grew up in Ang Mo Kio, and was brought up mostly by her grandmother as her parents were working full-time. She shared the same room with her grandma from her childhood until the time the senior passed away. Xueling, who is a third-generation Singaporean, met her husband while studying in London. He became a Singapore citizen six years ago.
Information and quotes derived from Todayonline.com; channelnewsasia.com; The Straits Times; and the People’s Action Party website. Images taken from Sun Xueling’s Facebook public profile.