Changi Airport Group vice-president Poh Li San willing to enter politics if given the chance

Changi Airport Group vice-president Poh Li San joined the PAP Sembawang branch in October 2018, and is now the vice-chairman of the branch.
Changi Airport Group vice-president Poh Li San joined the PAP Sembawang branch in October 2018, and is now the vice-chairman of the branch.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Addressing rumours that she might be fielded as a People's Action Party (PAP) candidate in the next election, Changi Airport Group vice-president Poh Li San said that if she is given the chance to serve Sembawang residents at a deeper level, she would gladly do so.

But it is still too early to tell if she will be offered the chance to take part in the next polls, Ms Poh told the media on the sidelines of the inaugural Women's Festival 2019 at Kampung Admiralty yesterday.

The next general election must be held by April 2021.

"If there is an opportunity for me to serve residents at a deeper level, I will be most honoured to do so, and I will do my best as well," said the 44-year-old. "At this moment, it is still uncertain and is really... anybody's guess.

"Right now, I am focused on making sure that I do my job well, run my events well in Sembawang and contribute to the community."

Ms Poh first came to prominence as a female helicopter pilot in Singapore's air force, conducting search and rescue operations in a Super Puma helicopter. She was later the first woman to be appointed full-time aide-de-camp to the late President S R Nathan.

She then joined Changi Airport Group and helped conceptualise Terminal 4. She is also involved in the plans for the upcoming Terminal 5.

She was an active grassroots leader in Gambas ward, helping MP Ong Ye Kung in his Meet-the-People sessions every Monday.

In October last year, Ms Poh joined the PAP Sembawang branch and has been making frequent appearance on the Facebook pages of Sembawang GRC MPs Khaw Boon Wan and Vikram Nair. She is the deputy chairman of the branch.

All five Sembawang GRC MPs were yesterday at the festival, which was organised by Ms Poh and five People's Association women's executive committees in Sembawang GRC.

Around 2,000 women took part in various activities at the day-long festival, including fitness classes, health talks and self-defence demonstrations.


Asked whether the current slate of Sembawang MPs - all of whom are male - needs the female touch, Ms Poh said there are many benefits to having a woman as an MP.

"Women may be sensitive to certain issues that they feel uncomfortable to share with a male MP. Having a women's voice amongst the team will (help us) focus on more women-oriented issues," she said.

Singapore has done well for gender equality in the past two decades and the culture is respectful of women, Ms Poh added. They have good access to education and working opportunities, and have taken on leadership positions in business and government, she said.

But more needs to be done, especially in the political arena, to expose women to opportunities in leadership, Ms Poh added. Describing her own career as an unusual one, she said she seized whatever opportunities came her way and encouraged other women to do the same.

She fully endorsed the views of Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who chairs the PAP Women's Wing. Earlier this month, Ms Teo called for a concerted effort to encourage women to join politics.

Ms Poh said: "It is a great call and a great way to get women to step forward and contribute to the community and country... We need to bring more women on board together, because it will be more powerful to work as a team of women leaders."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2019, with the headline 'Changi Airport Group V-P willing to enter politics if given the chance'. Subscribe