Armed and ready for battle

SHE came armed with a battle plan, well-prepared answers and relevant statistics to defend her views.

She is Ms Low Yen Ling, the third and latest female candidate unveiled by the People's Action Party (PAP) yesterday at its headquarters. Until last week, she was a director with the Economic Development Board, where she worked to promote entrepreneurship and pioneered the development of a unit to attract global mid-sized companies to invest in Singapore.

A mother of two young boys, Ms Low was herself brought up by her maternal grandmother until the age of five, while her mother helped run her father's tailoring business.

If elected as a Member of Parliament, she wants to champion these causes: Create an environment that supports all mothers who need to juggle various roles; ensure that all kids have a shot at pre-school education; and provide better care for the elderly, not just financially but emotionally as well.

Currently, less than 1 per cent of all children do not get to attend pre-school, said Ms Low, but she wants to ensure that no child is left behind.

When asked how those goals could be achieved, Ms Low, who has been volunteering at the Meet The People sessions at Hong Kah GRC for the past two months, shared how her career background could help propel her ideas into fruition.

For instance, a "mums-in- business" platform, with lower barriers to entry, could help stay-at-home mums with a flair for business to network and share business expertise, she said.

When asked for one single policy that she wanted to improve, Ms Low answered almost without hesitation: Infant care and childcare subsidy for both stay-at-home and working mothers.

"The amount of childcare subsidy a stay-at-home mum can receive ranges from 50 to 70 per cent of that of a working mum... In today's context, there may be a case to review the discrepancy in the subsidy," she said.

On the topic of lukewarm response towards the two female candidates introduced over the past two weeks, Ms Low said: "Once you're genuine and sincere about service, actions will speak louder than words."

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng also introduced a guards officer, Brigadier-General (NS) Tan Chuan-Jin, and trade unionist Patrick Tay to the media.

Mr Wong, who is also the PAP's first assistant secretary- general, said "the backgrounds of all our candidates are diverse", with candidates hailing from both the private and public sectors.

"Many of them came from humble beginnings, and are now doing well as they have benefited from the meritocratic system that the PAP built and the economic opportunities we created," he said.

When the candidates were asked about the PAP's shortcomings, BG (NS) Tan - tipped to be an office holder - said that, from an overall governance perspective, one thing that was important to him was showing respect when engaging people and alternative views.

"There are many views, some a bit more vitriolic than others. But the fact is, (people) have the right to speak, even if we may disagree," he said.

Ms Low said that the party could have more members from the private sector, while Mr Tay said that it was challenging to attract younger members.

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