A Singaporean born and bred

After she appeared at a Pasir Ris- Punggol GRC grassroots event earlier this month, People's Action Party candidate Sun Xueling, 36, was targeted by xenophobic netizens who thought she was a Chinese national because of the hanyu pinyin spelling of her name.

The third-generation Singaporean, who is also known as Soon Sher Rene, was born here and raised by her grandmother who encouraged her to volunteer and help the needy. She met her Beijing- born husband while studying in London. He became a Singapore citizen six years ago.

Soft-spoken and articulate, she said: "What's important is he took an active step to become a Singaporean. He was attracted to the values and dynamism we have here."

She hopes to change the minds of those who are less than welcoming of new citizens, saying: "They want to become Singaporeans because they love this place and want a role in building the country."

The investment banker has a young daughter and hopes to push for more support measures for parents. Her political career has been more than a decade in the making.

As an undergraduate, she started volunteering at Buona Vista and, in 2004, aged 25, she spoke at the PAP's 50th anniversary rally.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean revealed the party considered fielding her in 2011. But she was working in Hong Kong and thinking of having children.

Ms Sun said she was engaged in party activities even before 2011. Of her time in grassroots activities, she said: "It has made me a much better person. When you try to solve other people's problems, your own dim in significance."


Give families adequate support: It has real impact on productivity

Sun Xueling, 36

Occupation: Investment director at Temasek Holdings

Family: Married to an IT entrepreneur, 37. They have a daughter aged two.Education: Bachelor of Social Sciences (Upper Honours) in Economics from the National University of Singapore and a Master of Science from the London School of Economics.

Hobbies: Reading and swimming

Why politics?

Being involved in the community puts you in touch with local issues, which is important. But politics is a way to do more, because you have the arena and ability to debate issues, not just for the constituency, but also on the policy-making front.

Why you?

Grassroots work taught me compassion and how to see the world through my fellow man's eyes.

What issues will you focus on?

I want to ensure families have adequate childcare and eldercare, and help young mothers sustain fulfilling careers. I understand what many families go through.

It's not just about putting more infrastructure. Knowing that your child is taken care of gives working mothers confidence to pursue their career and passions. That has real impact on productivity.

Favourite spot in Singapore?

Changi Airport. It represents adventure. When I return, it reminds me of home.

This article was first published on August 23, 2015.
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