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Exclusive Interview with MP Sun Xue Ling: Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

sunxueling

(image courtesy of Sun Xue Ling)

1) Share with us the activities you took part in while studying economics in NUS.

While studying economics at NUS, I was also in the publications team for NUS Political Association. I enjoyed interacting with other students, reporting on student activities as well as conducting interviews with interesting personalities.

2) What made you decide to pursue a Master of Science in International Political Economy with Merit from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)?

I decided to do a master programme in London as it is a bustling international city and I wanted to see the world. I decided to do a degree in International Political Economy as I thought it was a good complement to the Economics and Statistics focus I had in NUS.

3) What is the greatest takeaway from your education years?

Now looking back, my greatest takeaway from my time in London was making friends with people from different backgrounds and gaining different perspectives to issues.

4) Why did you choose to start your career with the Economic Development Board (EDB)?

After I graduated, I joined the EDB as the EDB then was a very critical economic development agency. I was interested in the Singapore Inc model and had grown up intrigued by the development models of the then Asian Newly Industrialised Economies. I was keen to be part of the work that the EDB did.

5) How was it like heading Business China? What did you learn from your overseas stint in Hong Kong and China?

Subsequently, I wanted to develop greater skills specialisation and hence branched out into the private sector and spent most of my working career in banking, in Hong Kong and China. I developed a greater understanding of business dynamics in the region.

6) What are your hobbies?

My hobbies include swimming and reading. But whenever I have spare time now, I would choose to spend it with my two young children. They are my life. I am so happy being with them.

7) How and why did you start to volunteer at grassroots events? (what was the motivation or inspiration behind it) Why are you so passionate on advocating for women and mothers’ rights?

I started volunteering at grassroots events at about the age of 20. I was doing an interview for the NUS Political Association back then and was invited to drop by a grassroots event.  There were several young people there then who were all passionate about what they were doing. They came from all walks of life – some from the private sector, others were in the civil service. I made many friends and I think it was the friendships forged that encouraged me to continue going back.

There are many young families in my Punggol ward. I spend a lot of time with them and got to know their needs and focus areas. As these are young families, just starting out with owning their first home, straggling both a career and young children, they are concerned with school options for young children, childcare arrangements, cost of essentials such as infant milk formula etc… Being of a similar demographic as them, it is easy to relate to them. I want to help solve their issues.

I am very happy doing what I am doing. I cannot think of doing anything else, other than what i am doing now. I work with people, I listen to them, understand what issues they face, what problems they have, and I have a platform and some level of resources to help them. Sometimes i wish there were more hours in a day, because to be honest, so many people come forward seeking help. Some really require help, others cannot think of a way out of a problem they may have inevitably put themselves into and they need someone outside in to help advise them. I do not have the answers to everything, my resources are also limited, and there is always a need to balance the need of the individual with the needs of society. But I do try. In fact I really try very hard. Sometimes, I am so physically tired that my brain is numb and my eyes can barely stay open. But to be put in a position where you can help others, I think it is a blessing and a privilege and since I have such a privilege, I really ought to do my very best.