PAP65: Quick chat with Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon

18 Nov 2019 3 min read

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人民 行动党65周年庆:与符喜泉面对面

配合人民行动党庆祝成立65周年,我们特别访问了几名退休的国会议员,邀请他们分享担任议员的点滴。

这一期,我们与前社会青年及体育部政务部长符喜泉面对面。符女士刚在行动党65周年党大会及常年服务颁奖典礼上获颁功绩奖章,以肯定她多年来对党和国家的贡献。在访谈中,她分享了身为女议员面对的挑战。

符喜泉,69

  • 裕华单选区议员(1984 – 1997)
  • 武吉知马集选区(裕华)(1997 – 2001)
  • 裕廊集选区(2001 – 2006)
  • 荷兰-武吉知马集选区(裕华)(2006 – 2011)
  • 西南区市长(2001 – 2004)
  • 社会发展青年及体育部政务部长(2004 – 2011)

1 请你分享你在担任国会议员期间所面对的一些挑战。

符喜泉:1984年,我和简丽中博士及李慕真医生出任国会议员的时候,人们不大能够接受女性作为国会议员代表他们,很多男生都会避开我们。

我得花很多时间跟选民建立联系。不过要跟不同阶级、不同背景的人民交流沟通,其实不是简单的事。帮助我的基层有巴刹代表,我原本不大能够接受他们的穿着。可是,他们能够跟居民打成一片,从而拉近了我和居民的距离,帮了我很大的忙。我也从中学到:每个人不管是什么阶层,只要你能够让他们信任你,觉得你是真诚的,他们都会愿意跟你一起打拼。

除了得到人民的支持,我也得争取同志和党领导的支持。如何让领导觉得我在国会上提出的建议有分量。我在讨论课题的时候,会引述相关的数据。作为国会议员,我们发表课题的时候,一定要有所根据。

2 请你分享你的政治生涯中,印象最深刻的时刻。

符喜泉:让我印象深刻的是1991年由总理吴作栋领军的大选。人民行动党在那届大选中失去了四个国会议席。我当时在裕华单选区胜出。大选后,行动党举行了一个聚会。已经任内阁资政的李光耀跟我说了一句:欢迎你回来。我记得当时我听了那句话很感动,仿佛我们去了远征,打了一个硬仗,好不容易凯旋而归。那一幕,我一直记到现在。

3 是什么推动你继续担任议员,一做就做了六届?

符喜泉:领导鼓励我继续担任议员,或许是因为我在职工方面算是比较资深;第二,我是少数的女议员,愿意从政的女性并不多。我也参与多个政府和非政府机构的董事部。当你有机会参与决策、影响政策、建议得到认可,真的帮到人民,你会很有满足感。

无可否认,担任议员,有收获也会有牺牲。牺牲的是个人时间,没有时间陪家人。我曾经跟我的丈夫说,如果我可以出席家庭聚会,那算是一个“红利”。要做一个公众人物是要付出的。要担任议员,就得做好准备。

4 谁在你从政之后,让你印象最深刻?

符喜泉:建国总理李光耀是我从政之后,让我印象最深刻的人。很多人不了解,以为他只关心国家大事,其实他是个很有心的人,会关心我们的情况。他曾经跟我们女议员说:“你们的路还很长,要照顾自己。

另外一名让我印象深刻的领袖是已故的拉惹勒南。我向他学习到坦诚的重要性。70年代,我国面对严重的失业问题。当时担任劳工部长的拉惹勒南同工友对话。他告诉工友,他知道他们在薪金方面被剥削,不过新加坡需要依靠外来投资来制造就业机会。他对工友承诺,政府会通过提升他们的技能,确保他们不会被淘汰,他们不会永远被剥削。

从拉惹勒南的肢体语言,可以看出他很诚恳。他没有讲大道理,而是以浅白易懂的方式解释,工友听了觉得有理由,就愿意接受。我很幸运能够跟这些领导学到很多。

5) 在人行动党庆祝成立65周年之际,你对行动党有什么期许?

符喜泉:在行动党庆祝65周年的时候,我们不禁会问:行动党会不会继续执政下去?我很有信心的说一定会。

这60年的执政,行动党跟人民紧密合作。总理李显龙领导的政府显著的改善了人民的生活,我们在就业、教育、住屋方面获得提升。我特别感激政府增设托儿所和提供托儿津贴,给予职业妇女协助,以及让我国的教育去除标签。在他的领导之下,我们有更多的女部长,妇女的地位也提高了。

如今,总理李显龙培养了第四代领袖。在副总理王瑞杰的领导下,我们继续遵循党的理想,那就是:保持廉洁、公正、透明和以人为本。

过去,人们认为新加坡是一个奇迹。我希望第四代的领导团结一致,团结各族群宗教,在人人平等的情况下,创造另一个奇迹。

To celebrate the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) 65th anniversary, we interviewed several retired Members of Parliament (MPs) for their insights.

Here’s the seventh part of our series. Former Minister of State of Community Development and Sports Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon shares the challenges she faced as a politician. She recently received the Meritorious Service Medal for her selfless contribution and dedication to the Party and the nation.

  • Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, 69
  • MP for Yuhua SMC (1984 – 1997)
  • Bukit Timah GRC (Yuhua) (1997 – 2001)
  • Jurong GRC (Yuhua) (2001 – 2006)
  • Holland-Bukit Timah GRC (Bukit Timah) (2006 – 2011)
  • Mayor of South West District (2001 – 2004)
  • Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports (2004 – 2011)

1. Can you share some of the challenges that you have faced when you were an MP?
Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon: In 1984, when I first started as an MP, together with Dr Aline Wong and Dr Dixie Tan, people were not receptive to female MPs – many male residents avoided us.

I spent a lot of time reaching out and interacting with residents in order to build a relationship with them. But with people coming from a diverse of background, that added to the challenge. Despite that, I’m thankful for my grassroots leaders. They were the bridge that linked me and my residents back then.

Other than garnering the support of residents, I had to gain the support of comrades and Party leaders. In Parliament, when I spoke, I made sure to use relevant statistics to support my arguments. As an MP, it is important to support your arguments with facts. 

2. What was the memorable moment of your political career?
Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon:  Right after the 1991 General Election (GE) that was led by former Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, we had a post GE gathering. At that time, I had just won in Yuhua SMC. At the gathering, when I saw then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, he said, “Welcome back.” I was touched by what he said. It felt like we had fought a hard battle and came back triumphantly. I still remember that moment vividly.

3. What motivated you to continue as an MP, and be an MP for six terms?
Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon: The leaders encouraged me to continue to serve as an MP. When you have a chance to be involved in formulating policies and decision making, when your suggestions are accepted and the policies in turn benefit people, it brings you immense satisfaction.

4. As an MP, who was the most interesting person you have met?
Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon: Our founding Prime Minister was the most interesting person that I have ever met. Many people would assume that he was only concerned with national issues. But he was someone who cared.  He asked about our well-being, and once told a few of us, the female MPs: “It is a marathon, you must take care of yourselves.”

Another leader who left a deep impression on me was S. Rajaratnam. I learnt the importance of being honest.

In the seventies, Singapore had a high unemployment rate. Back then, Mr Rajaratnam, in his capacity as the Labour Minister, had a dialogue with the workers. He told them frankly that he knew they were being exploited in terms of wages. But Singapore needed to attract foreign investments to provide job opportunities for Singaporeans. He assured the workers that the Government would help them to upgrade their skillsets to secure their jobs, they would not be exploited perpetually.

When Mr Rajaratnam spoke, you could tell that he was sincere. He explained in simple terms and the workers understood where he was coming from and accepted his reasoning. I am very fortunate to have been able to learn from these leaders. 

5. As PAP celebrates its 65th birthday, what is your wish for the Party?
Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon: As PAP celebrates its 65th birthday, we are likely to ask: Will PAP continue to govern the country? I am confident that it will. Over the past 60 years, the Party has worked closely with Singaporeans.

The government, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has improved people’s lives – providing more job opportunities, better education, and fulfilling their housing needs. I am grateful that the Government is building more childcare facilities and providing additional childcare benefits for working mothers and doing away with secondary school streaming.

Under PM Lee’s leadership, we have more women ministers, and the social status of women has been raised. PM Lee has built a strong fourth-generation (4G) team. Under Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s leadership, we will continue to abide by the Party’s values – to be incorruptible, just, transparent and always represent the people’s interest.

Many regard Singapore a miracle in modern history. I hope that the 4G leaders can remain united, unite people of all races and religions, and with all being equal, create another miracle.