Minister Josephine Teo: My mother an ex-policewoman who can look after my kids

Yesterday (2 Mar), at a police event which celebrated 70 years of women in policing, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo revealed that her mother was also a woman police officer.

Ms Teo took the opportunity to cite her mother’s police service when she paid tribute to the achievements of the female police officers in Singapore.

She told the audience gathered at the Home Team Academy that she had learnt first-hand what it takes to be a woman police officer and the sacrifices they make by seeing her own mother Madam Leow Chee Chu going out on duty.

Addressing the many female police retirees in the audience, Ms Teo said, “Your work often requires sacrifices; such as weekends with loved ones that you cannot be part of or key events at home that you missed because you’re on duty.”

She revealed that her mother, who is 77 this year, had served in radio, traffic, and the CID during her time with the Singapore Police Force (SPF). She had also served with the ISD.

Ms Teo said she found the courage to enter public life because of her mother, who had served as a police officer for more than 20 years. “It was my mother’s first and only career,” she said. “If you have ever wondered where I found the courage to enter public life, look no further than my mother. Her feisty character and resilience must have rubbed off on me.”

“As to what moulded my mother’s character, I’m inclined to believe the police and the Old Police Academy had a lot to do with it because when she started her police career, she was not yet 20,” she added.

Ms Teo also revealed that her mother, presumably after her retirement, was willing to “sacrifice her own leisure to help me look after my children when they were young”. She said this was critical as it gave her the peace of mind to focus on her career.

Josephine Teo’s flying career in public service and politics

Indeed, Ms Teo has done very well for herself in her career, for someone who advises Singaporeans that they don’t need much space “to have sex”.

Ms Teo started her career in EDB (1992 to 2002). She began her career in EDB’s enterprise development and later became EDB’s Head of Human Resources. She then went over the A*STAR to become its Head of Human Resources (2002 to 2006), before she was “discovered” by PAP. She entered politics in 2006 and was elected as MP in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. She then moved to NTUC and served as its Assistant Secretary-General (2007 to 2011).

Following the 2011 election, she was appointed a Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport. She was later promoted to Senior Minister Of State at the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport in 2013. After 2015 election, she was promoted to full minister and appointed as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). She later succeeded Lim Swee Say to become Manpower Minister. She is said to be the second female minister to helm a ministry in Singapore.

Certainly, Ms Teo is very lucky to have a mother willing to look after her kids while she went on to build her career. Unlike the many financial issues faced by many Singaporean elderly these days, which force them to continue to work, Ms Teo’s mother did not appear to have such issues and could spare time to look after Ms Teo’s kids. As what Ms Teo said, her mother only “sacrificed her own leisure” time.

Pension scheme for old police officers

Note that Ms Teo’s mother was a police officer before Singapore gained independence, which means her mother would be eligible under the old police pension scheme. In those days, policewomen retired at 45, which explains why her mother only served in the police force for more than 20 years, starting from the age of about 20 years old.

So, under the police pension scheme, for a retired policewoman at the age of 77, she would still be receiving her monthly pension. However, for the rest of the Singaporean elderly on the CPF Retirement Sum Scheme (RSS), take note that payouts are computed to last a CPF member for only about 20 years.

In any case, even if Ms Teo’s mother left the SPF earlier and as such, forfeited her pension, Ms Teo’s high salary earned in public service or as a PAP politician would have ensured that there is more than enough money for her mother not to work and to just take care of her kids. As for the rest of Singaporeans, say, who are driving Grab, it’s not known if they can earn enough to feed their own family, let alone their parents.