GE2020: Two lawmakers whose vote share rose

MacPherson MP keeps her focus on residents' needs

MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling (third from left) discussing the HappYouth programme with youth leaders from the Character & Leadership Academy at the 12th Global Youth Leaders Summit last Saturday. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling (third from left) discussing the HappYouth programme with youth leaders from the Character & Leadership Academy at the 12th Global Youth Leaders Summit last Saturday. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

When MacPherson resident Tan Meng Huat, 66, needed to file a claim with insurer NTUC Income, he did not know what to do.

The taxi driver, who lives in Geylang East Avenue 1, decided to seek the help of his MP Tin Pei Ling.

Within two days, Ms Tin replied with a set of instructions for him to submit his claims for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme.

Said Mr Tan: "A lot of people said she was too young in 2011, but she kept trying and proved herself because her heart is in the right place.

"Even though she didn't have much experience then, you can always tell she really wants to help."

Keeping a finger on the pulse of residents' needs has helped boost Ms Tin's popularity in the single-seat constituency with 28,513 voters.

In the most recent general election, Ms Tin secured 71.74 per cent of the votes against People's Power Party chief Goh Meng Seng.

The result - a jump of more than six percentage points from 2015, when she got 65.6 per cent - meant MacPherson gave the People's Action Party (PAP) its largest upward swing in the 2020 polls.

Ms Tin, 36, does not seem like she will rest on her laurels, and is racing ahead with a roll-out of plans for the mature estate.

Last Saturday, she teamed up with the social development enterprise Character & Leadership Academy to launch an initiative to help young people facing mental health issues in MacPherson.

The HappYouth programme aims to provide youth with an understanding of stress and depression as well as skills to mentor others who may suffer from these issues.


While the details for the programme in MacPherson are still being worked out, it is likely to entail a mix of virtual classes, support groups and block visits to address the mental well-being of young residents in the constituency.

Speaking to The Straits Times last Wednesday, Ms Tin said: "A lot of people think MacPherson is a mature estate, which is true, but we also have young people, and everyone has got their own battles to fight.

"So hopefully with this we can increase our outreach to go in deeper and build up a network of support for our youth."

HappYouth has seen more than four times its usual requests for coaching between April and last month - with the incidence of mental health issues among youth going up amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Mr Delane Lim, chief executive of the Character & Leadership Academy, said the main stress factor for young people now is securing jobs and providing for their families.

"We foresee that this impact will continue to worsen, but we are hoping that as we engage our youth in our programme, we can help them to see what other possibilities there are and how they can also be the eyes and ears for their own peers," he added.

Ms Tin said building a strong foundation from a young age is also seen as being pivotal to helping young people handle stress and depression.

She added: "When you have a strong sense of self, you're less likely to be affected by the comments of others.

"You're more confident. You're less worried about how other people see you or judge you."

Ms Tin herself was the subject of public scrutiny in 2011, when she was introduced as a new PAP candidate for Marine Parade GRC, which at the time included MacPherson.


During the election campaign that year, among other things, pictures of her posing with a Kate Spade bag - a gift from her senior civil servant husband Ng How Yue - drew criticism from some people.

When the PAP got 56.64 per cent of the votes in Marine Parade GRC, then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who anchored the team, cited the negative publicity surrounding Ms Tin as a "factor" in the results.

Last Saturday, Ms Tin declined to comment on the recent election results, but let her work speak for itself.

In the run-up to the July 10 polls, Ms Tin launched a scheme that will help 100 lower-income households in MacPherson pay only half of their electricity bills for one year, with the other half to be covered by licensed energy retailer Sunseap Energy.

The local firm, which is a subsidiary of solar energy solutions provider Sunseap Group, will also provide these homes with solar energy, as part of a social initiative to provide clean and affordable energy to households.

Also in the pipeline for residents are dialogues and workshops, where professionals, managers, executives and technicians and other job seekers can get advice from career counsellors.

Children from lower-income families also stand to benefit from a Coding For Children programme.

Last Saturday, Ms Tin said: "When you feel connected to a particular group of people, you will always want to do more for them. It's like you would for your family members.

"More so now with the crisis, I think there's a real sense of mission because a lot of people are going through a lot of pain... Sometimes you can't help everyone but even if you just help one person that is a really good thing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2020, with the headline 'MacPherson MP keeps her focus on residents' needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe