GE2020: PAP not the only party with female SAF officers - here's PSP's Kala Manickam

Progress Singapore Party's new candidate Kala Manickam.
PHOTO: Facebook/mjkala19, PSP

Looks like the People's Action Party's Gan Siow Huang and Poh Li San are not the only female Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officers contesting in the upcoming general election.

Kala Manickam has joined the political fray after being unveiled as a candidate during Progress Singapore Party's (PSP) press conference this morning (June 26).

The 52-year-old was in SAF's pioneer batch of female commissioned officers and became a platoon commander of the Women Wing in the Officer Cadet School.

After seven years in the military, she left as a lieutenant to become an adult educator for 15 years.

Her journey was far from smooth. Manickam recalled during the online event that her parents had wanted to stop her education at O-levels, but she pleaded with her mother to let her continue.

While there was the notion in a conservative Indian family that a woman's role is that of a homemaker, the upbringing by her parents instilled a different mindset in Manickam.

Out of the five siblings in her family, she was the one who placed a heavy emphasis on education. She struck a deal with her parents to let her continue school by working part-time to support her family as well as her studies.

Calling herself a risk-taker, Manickam had done five parachute jumps by the age of 17 as a member of her school's National Cadet Corps. Her experience in the organisation fuelled her passion for the army and after A-levels, she joined the SAF.

Apparently, it runs in the family. Her eldest brother is in the air force, her second brother is in the navy and her third brother is in the army.

In a Facebook post on May 21, she wrote that she is thankful to the SAF for grooming her to be strong physically, mentally and emotionally. It was a steep learning curve that prepared her to face the challenges in her career and personal life.

Today 21st May 2020. brings back memories way back to 30 years ago to 1990, when I joined the Singapore Armed Forces....

Posted by Kala Manickam on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Manickam said this sense of adventure made her leave the SAF after her bond ended to join the private sector to "see the world out there".

She later joined the Singapore General Hospital and the National Heart Centre during the Sars outbreak. It was this period that unlocked her compassionate side, seeing the struggles that people faced.

Manickam felt that there was a need for her to make a difference, and as an MP, the most important aspect is to serve the people with your heart.

"Singapore is my home. This is my home that I need to protect."