- 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)
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.