Will we see more women in the upcoming Singapore GE than in 2015?

PHOTO: The Straits Times file, leelilian.sg

Will there be more women contesting in the upcoming Singapore general election?

Although the polls have not been called, speculation has been rife over the candidates that will be fielded in the next election. And a fair number of names thrown up have been of women.

Mariam Jaafar, 43, a partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group in Singapore, has been rumoured to be a possible candidate to take over the reigns from MP Amrin Amin in his Woodlands ward. 

Gan Siow Huang, 45, who reportedly resigned from her position in the SAF, set tongues wagging when she was spotted alongside Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at a Bishan-Toa Payoh group representation constituency (GRC) walkabout in March.

Raeesah Khan, 26, has also been earmarked as one to watch, after she was spotlighted on Workers' Party (WP) deputy treasurer Lee Li Lian's Facebook page in April.

Most recently, it was reported that Ng Ling Ling, who was director of the Health Ministry's Office of Healthcare Transformation (MOHT) had left her post, which many took to signal her possible transition into politics. 

Earlier this month, the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) unveiled four new faces through a Zoom session to engage with residents living in the Western parts of Singapore that includes Gigene Wong, 53, a human resource specialist at Wison Offshore & Marine, in addition to lawyer Wendy Low who was introduced on May 21.

While it remains to be seen how many women will eventually be fielded this year, signs point to an increasing female presence in Singapore's political arena. 

In the 2015 elections, women contested more than half of the single-member constituencies (SMCs) at the polls, with eight in 13 SMCs having at least one woman running. 

This was a jump from the 2011 elections, when the number was five in 12 SMCs.

And of all the wards in Singapore, the Yuhua seat is all about that Girl Power.

Fun fact: The ward has been under a female MP since 1984 and has traditionally seen contests between women for the seat. 

PAP’s Yu-Foo Yee Shoon represented the ward until 2006 and was succeeded by party member Grace Fu from 2011.

Fu also happens to be the second woman in Singapore's history to hold the status of full Minister after former Cabinet minister Lim Hwee Hwa, and is the first woman to helm a ministry.

The ward has traditionally also been contested by members from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

In 2015, Fu successfully defended her seat with 73.5 per cent of the votes against SDP candidate, Jaslyn Go, a sales director of a construction firm. In 2011, former Internal Security Act detainee Teo Soh Lung from SDP also contested the seat, without success. 

Yuhua was a single-seat constituency until 1997, when it was absorbed into the now-defunct Bukit Timah GRC. It then became part of Jurong GRC from 2001 to 2011, before it was carved out as a single-seat ward and it will be contested as a SMC in the 2020 general elections. 

candicecai@asiaone.com