Lawyer, doctor join PAP team in Jurong GRC

The five-member PAP team in Jurong GRC comprises (clockwise from left) Mr Tan Wu Meng, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ms Rahayu Mahzam, Mr Desmond Lee and Mr Ang Wei Neng.
The five-member PAP team in Jurong GRC comprises (clockwise from left) Mr Tan Wu Meng, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ms Rahayu Mahzam, Mr Desmond Lee and Mr Ang Wei Neng.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Lawyer Rahayu Mahzam and doctor Tan Wu Meng are two professionals who see politics as a platform to further champion the causes that have become their passion at work.

Ms Rahayu, 35, a specialist in civil litigation and family law, wants to help troubled families and at-risk youth.

Her mission is sparked by the many encounters she had with such families and people who struggle to make ends meet when she was deputy registrar of the Syariah Court the past two years.

Dr Tan, 40, an oncologist in private practice, believes a patient's health is not just about medicine, so he is a friend to his patients as well.

If they cannot find a job, he would write letters to employers supporting their job hunts.

In one instance, he successfully convinced a boss to let a patient's daughter take leave frequently to help look after her father.

"Life can be very short and very unpredictable. So it's about leading a meaningful life and helping others," he said yesterday at a People's Action Party (PAP) press conference to introduce the line-up that will contest Jurong GRC.

Dr Tan lost his father, a cardiologist, to cancer about three months ago. His father was his inspiration: "He made time to help folk who were disadvantaged or of limited means. For many years, he helped run a subsidised clinic as a visiting consultant."

Like Ms Rahayu, he is a new face in the five-member team led by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Ms Rahayu, married to a legal officer, left the Syariah Court earlier this month as a prelude to entering politics. She is back in private practice. If elected, she wants to focus on the laws relating to families and youth, as well as improving programmes for broken families, especially in housing.

Providing more opportunities for young people is another hobbyhorse of Ms Rahayu, who started volunteering with the Malay Youth Literary Association and has helped at youth debates since the age of 17.

There are funds that help the youth pursue extra-curricular activities, such as how to build networks and getting a mentor. She plans to enhance and extend the scope of such funds, she said.

Similarly, Dr Tan has been doing grassroots work for 10 years, helping at the Senja-Cashew ward in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

If elected, he wants to lobby for ways to better integrate hospital care and medical care in the community for the Clementi ward, which would come under his charge. In short, bring healthcare closer to patients' homes.

His ambition dovetails with overall plans for Jurong GRC, which Mr Tharman plans to make a model of such help.

Work has started to build "a network on the ground to make care available close to home and at home", the minister said.

It will involve active participation by the community, including doctors and nurses, voluntary welfare organisations and volunteers who would visit elderly residents to make sure they receive the care they need, he added. "We make sure help comes to them... providing quality care in the most friendly way, close to home and at home."

Ms Rahayu will represent the Bukit Batok East ward, taking over from Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who is moving to Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

They are very big shoes to fill, she said, but Madam Halimah has helped with tips: "Just be yourself, be on the ground and really understand and listen to people's problems... It's not a show of walking, not wayang. It's really about finding out what their needs are."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2015, with the headline 'Lawyer, doctor join PAP team in Jurong GRC'. Print Edition | Subscribe