updated 8 Jun 2011, 04:38
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Wed, Jun 08, 2011
The Straits Times
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Room for more women in politics
by Shuli Sudderuddin

Singapore's soon-to-be first woman minister, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, has been receiving a stream of congratulatory messages - via e-mail, text messages and even Facebook.

'I'm very overwhelmed, it has actually extended far beyond what I expected,' said Mrs Lim, currently Senior Minister of State in the Finance and Transport ministries.

Come April 1, Mrs Lim, 50, will become a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, as well as Second Minister in both the Finance and Transport ministries.

In an interview with the press at Damai Secondary School, where she was the guest of honour at the Earth Hour community event for the North East District, she said that she hoped her appointment would motivate even more women to enter politics.

'I hope it will motivate even more women to really consider policy formulation as a responsibility and not just the duty of a small group of women.

'Just as we work to contribute to our families and the economy, policy formulation and looking after ourselves as a country should be part and parcel of our nation- building efforts as well,' she said.

Mrs Lim added that the appointment reflected the sort of thinking that Mr Lee has about the role that women play.

She said it was a good signal not only for women, but also for men to consciously consider how they can tap women's potential.

Referring to her stance against quotas, she said: 'I think it's demeaning to women to have quotas, so I would rather that women get selected as men do, on the basis of merit.

'I think it is very positive and encouraging to women but more importantly, to signal to the men that you are wasting the talent of the women if you don't give them opportunities,' she said.

She also talked about the challenges she would face in her new role, namely, building on Singapore's strengths in areas like manufacturing, the financial and business services and transportation and logistics in the changing economic climate.

She noted that while the global marketplace is fast changing, what have not changed are Singapore's adaptable, competent and committed people of integrity.

She said: 'This will continue to serve us even as we ride out the downturn.'

On a personal note, when asked how she would juggle her time between work and family life, Mrs Lim - who has three children aged 25, 23 and 17 - said with a laugh: 'It will continue to be juggled.'

The MP for Aljunied GRC added: 'It helps to have a very supportive family in terms of my husband and my children.

'I've been an MP for 12 years already, so I believe they've sort of adapted and they're quite used to juggling around different work schedules as well.'

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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