Jewel Philemon /
The 2011 General Elections has surprised many in Singapore with the emergence of well-qualified opposition candidates. Taking the Mountbatten battlefield is Mrs Jeannette Chong Aruldoss, a contender for the Single Member Constituency (SMC).
In fiery speeches that worked up the crowd on each successive occasion, Mrs Jeannette proved to be an eloquent speaker, throwing carefully constructed, well-aimed criticisms at the policies implemented by the ruling party, the Peoples Action Party (PAP). She bravely challenged her opponent and inspired people with a profound determination born from a passion to serve. “The PAP likes to say: ‘Opposition got no credible candidates.’ Well standing before you is a credible candidate”. She adds, “In fact, my credentials are even better than my counterpart, Mr Lim Biow Chuan. How dare the PAP say that Singapore does not have enough talent? Maybe PAP doesn’t have enough talent”.
She criticized her opponent for not being the people’s choice and emphasized the fact that he did not have to fight to win the peoples hearts over. “But NOW people of Mountbatten,” she told the crowd, “now you have a choice. Now Mr Lim Biow Chuan has to do walkabouts, he has to go door to door, he has to stand at the MRT station to distribute his flyers. Mr Lim Biow Chuan never had to do that in GE 2006. But he has to do so because I have come forward to contest in Mountbatten”.
As a political figure, she is fiery and passionate personality. Under the radar, she leads a different life, normal life. A mother of four children – three boys and one girl – Mrs Aruldoss took great pains and sacrifice in raising her children. In 1991, Mrs Aruldoss quit the prestigious Allen and Gledhill Law Practice to stay home to care for her first child. She set up her own firm and continued practicing law. Upon having three more children, she had to juggle between balancing her family circumstances and the progress of her career at her law firm.
We caught up with Mrs Jeannette Chong Aruldoss (JCA) on the last day of the elections, the day before cooling off day, and found out more about her life at home. In an interview with The Online Citizen, we asked a few questions.
TOC: Hi Jeannette, how are you doing, with all the election excitement surrounding you?
JCA: Well, it has been a long journey and finally it’s the day before cooling off day. I am pretty excited myself and I am sure there are many of those out there also sharing my excitement.
TOC: Tomorrow is cooling off day. This means an end to all election activity. Any plans for tomorrow?
JCA: Well I do look forward to cooling off day. In fact, after tonight, my mind can finally take a rest. I also plan to spend the day with my family and catch up with my kids.
TOC: Any specific plans? Going to the beach? Lunch with the family?
JCA: My kids want to see the latest movie in town titled ‘Thor’. We also have a dinner planned as a family. Other than that, it’s a day for me to relax and spend time with my family, who I am grateful for supporting me faithfully all throughout the elections.
TOC: How do you manage your kids, your job as a practicing lawyer and at the same time, delve deeply into politics?
JCA: (Laughs) I often ask myself that question. I am not sure how I do it really. However, I must say my first priority is my family. To say that it is not tough juggling all the different spheres of my life would be entirely untrue. My (law) practice is still intact. I go back regularly to check and receive many updates from my partners on the progression of cases etc. Also, my family has been very supportive of me during this election period. They have given me no trouble at all.
TOC: What do you mean, your family is your first priority? Could you elaborate on that?
JCA: Well when I was still contemplating the possibility of going into politics, I realized that there would be, or could be, heavy implications for my family and I. How could I go into politics without earning their approval? Therefore, I had to first seek approval from my children and this was not an easy task. Perhaps the most challenging task was getting my husband’s approval. But I must say once I had earned his approval, he has been behind me all the way. In fact, my family has given me full support.
TOC: That’s great to hear. In what ways does your family show support for you?
JCA: Well, for starters, my husband has been by my side this whole week. He has been present at all my rallies, meetings and walkabouts and gives me his full support. He is also like the food manager and buys all the food and drinks for all my meetings and party events. He makes sure we are well-fed. (Laughs) My eldest son, Elliot, who has just finished NS (National Service), also takes time off from work to help me in my walkabouts and I also bounce ideas for my speeches off him. My 2nd, Ellery, is still in NS, and cannot take part in election activities nor be associated with them by law, which is most unfortunate. My 3rd, Elisabelle, has flown back from Australia to help me personally with my walkabouts too. She has chosen to stay back longer than her due flight back to Australia and I am quite touched by this. My youngest is too young to be involved in politics but I do hope he gains awareness in the course of the General Elections.
TOC: The Mountbatten incumbent, Mr Lim Biow Chuan, has said that he has the support of “300-over grassroots leaders” supporting him and backing his cause. He therefore questions your capability and capacity as a future Member of Parliament.
JCA: Mr Lim Biow Chuan may have his own people. However, I myself have my own armada of resources behind me. How do you think we have constructed such a comprehensive manifesto with policies of depth and resonance? We do not “”anyhow” come out with policies. We have scholars, researchers and well-accredited analysts and individuals behind me. They are all ready to work and plan the next step. In fact, they are the ones who should be given the credit. My 5-year plan is thoroughly researched and well-crafted by them. Mr Lim may have his grassroots leaders. I will have my own more-than qualified, ever-ready team of people to serve the people of Mountbatten to the best of our abilities.
TOC: Just a last question Jeannette. If elected, you will be very busy with serving the needs of residents in Mountbatten Constituency. How then, will you manage your already very busy life?
JCA: I am definitely going to be more busy and I have pledged to serve the Mountbatten Community to the best of my abilities. Don’t get me wrong, I am no superwoman. I will still have to find a way to juggle my practice, though serving Mountbattenites will take presidence over my law career. My family has given me full support in this.
TOC: Anything else you would like to add?
JCA: To voters out there, I would like you to vote wisely and choose carefully who can best represent you, the people of Mountbatten. Send me into Parliament and I will most definitely be your voice! Thank you!
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