A Singaporean born and bred

New PAP candidate for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Sun Xueling speaks to the media on Aug 22, 2015.
New PAP candidate for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Sun Xueling speaks to the media on Aug 22, 2015. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

After she appeared at a Pasir Ris- Punggol GRC grassroots event earlier this month, People's Action Party candidate Sun Xueling, 36, was targeted by xenophobic netizens who thought she was a Chinese national because of the hanyu pinyin spelling of her name.

The third-generation Singaporean, who is also known as Soon Sher Rene, was born here and raised by her grandmother who encouraged her to volunteer and help the needy. She met her Beijing- born husband while studying in London. He became a Singapore citizen six years ago.

Soft-spoken and articulate, she said: "What's important is he took an active step to become a Singaporean. He was attracted to the values and dynamism we have here."

She hopes to change the minds of those who are less than welcoming of new citizens, saying: "They want to become Singaporeans because they love this place and want a role in building the country."

The investment banker has a young daughter and hopes to push for more support measures for parents. Her political career has been more than a decade in the making.

As an undergraduate, she started volunteering at Buona Vista and, in 2004, aged 25, she spoke at the PAP's 50th anniversary rally.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean revealed the party considered fielding her in 2011. But she was working in Hong Kong and thinking of having children.

Ms Sun said she was engaged in party activities even before 2011. Of her time in grassroots activities, she said: "It has made me a much better person. When you try to solve other people's problems, your own dim in significance."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2015, with the headline 'A Singaporean born and bred'. Print Edition | Subscribe