Foo Mee Har

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Foo Mee Har
Member of the Singapore Parliament
for West Coast Group Constituency
Incumbent
Assumed office
7 May 2011
Preceded by S Iswaran
Majority 36,070 (33.1%)
Personal details
Born (1966-01-10) 10 January 1966 (age 48)
Malaysia
Nationality Singaporean
Political party People's Action Party
Children 2
Alma mater University of New South Wales
Occupation Politician
Profession Banker
Religion Free-Thinker
Website http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001805532310
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Foo.

Foo Mee Har (Chinese: 胡美霞; pinyin: Hú Měixiá, born 10 January 1966) is a Singaporean Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC.[1] She is a member of the Government Parliamentary Committees of both: 1) Finance and Trade & Industry; and 2) Manpower.[2] She is also a member of the Public Accounts Committee.[3]

Foo was elected MP in May 2011, standing as one of the five People's Action Party (PAP) candidates for the West Coast GRC, which garnered 66.6 per cent of votes, winning by a majority of 33.1 per cent or 36,070 votes.[4][5]

Foo has twenty over years of experience with leading international firms, held senior leadership roles across businesses and geographies. She led an international career, lived and worked in 5 countries: Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. She stepped down as the Global Head of Priority & International Banking for Standard Chartered Bank on 1 Jan 2013 to focus on constituency work and to pursue other interests. She had a long standing career at Standard Chartered Bank spanning 19 years covering Asia, Africa and Middle East markets.[6]

Politics[edit]

Foo joined the PAP in 2010, and was unveiled as PAP's first new female candidate for the Singapore general election, 2011.[7] During her introduction, Foo said that living abroad gave her the opportunity "to really reflect on Singapore, its government, systems and its processes" and appreciate its unique strengths[8]

Foo spoke on women’s issues in Parliament, calling for better support for women at work. She charged that the lack of attractive flexi-work opportunities is a big barrier to getting women and older workers back to the workforce. She urged the government to take the lead to make the integration of family and work a national concern, and not left to the best efforts of individual companies (Budget 2013).[9] Foo suggested a special grant from the government – Re-entry Scheme – to encourage employers to rehire women returnees to the workplace (Maiden speech 2011).

Foo urged the government to strengthen the Employment Pass system for foreign professionals, managers and executives to ensure employers show clear evidence of efforts to employ Singaporeans first before hiring foreigners, and are obliged to put in place a plan to invest in the training and development of Singaporeans to fill jobs that they are not qualified yet.

During the Population White Paper debate in Parliament, Foo called on the Singapore government to do more to build a stronger Singaporean core: (1) take bolder steps to improve Total Fertility Rate and (2) tap on economically inactive women and older workers.

During the 2012 Budget Debate, Foo Mee Har said that the Budget achieved a “good balance between fulfilling the social needs of the country and addressing the longer-term economic competitiveness of Singapore” and was particularly “heartened by the range of schemes intended to help 3 important groups of Singaporeans: the elderly, the lower-income and the disabled.”[10]

To maintain a strong and vibrant SME sector, Foo appealed to the government to maintain flexibility in applying policies.[11] She added that SMEs were the backbone of Singapore’s economy and Singapore’s future depended heavily on the establishment of a strong and vibrant SME sector. Foo said that SMEs “provide 60% of the jobs, they create value, and they fulfill the dreams of many Singaporean entrepreneurs.”[12]

She also suggested streamlining the various government schemes that support productivity, making it easier for SMEs to tap into them. As such, she called on the government to reach out to SMEs with tailored sector-level interventions and support and be able to replicate best practices quickly within each sector. She said: "I would like to suggest to the government to align all the productivity schemes to be company-centric, organised along the lines of the 16 priority sectors identified by the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council (NPCEC), such as Electronics, Retail, Hotels, Construction and Manufacturing."[13]

During the 2013 Budget Debate, Foo spoke about economic restructuring journey that Singapore companies, especially the SMEs, need to undergo to emerge stronger and leaner, and in the process create better lives for Singaporeans. She praised the Wage Credit Scheme as innovative and ‘provides the twin benefits of helping businesses cope with higher wages in a tight labour market as they upgrade, as well as encouraging firms to prefer Singaporeans and pay them better’.

Foo also championed other causes – housing, social support and labour – during the 2012 Budget debate. On housing, Foo spoke about taking active interventions to help Singaporeans better understand financial planning and the value of their homes.[14] Subsequently, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that HDB will be taking up Foo’s suggestions to tighten financial counselling and step up checks on prospective sellers.[15] She also called on the government to help seniors unlock the value of their flats by improving the attractiveness of existing schemes and making them accessible to a wider group of seniors, help them be self-reliant and live a fulfilling life in their retirement years.

Foo cautioned the government on the risk of formation of foreign workers’ enclaves in HDB estates and called on subletting rules for foreign workers to be reviewed, proposing ‘a limit of not more than 10% of flats in any particular block be allocated for rental as hostels for foreign workers’. Minister for National Development agreed with her and announced that HDB would immediately cap approvals for all new and renewal of HDB tenancy agreements involving non-citizens to one and a half years.

On social support, Foo called for better coordination and integration in the delivery of social services, which was acknowledged by MCYS Minister of State Halimah Yacob.[16] Foo suggested a localised help center for each constituency as a ‘one-stop shop’ to advise residents as well as to work in close partnership with the local community and grassroots to proactively reach out to those at risk.[17]

Foo championed a host of estate upgrading projects and launched numerous community assistance programs.

In March 2012, Foo launched the Ayer Rajah Community Hearts Program, or ARCHearts, to provide support to the less privileged in the community. ARCHearts include monthly food programmes, bursaries and home improvements for the elderly. She also launched a pro-bono fortnightly legal counselling service.[18]

People’s Action Party (PAP)[edit]

PAP Women's Wing

Foo is the Treasurer to the PAP Women's Wing Executive Committee. She is also a member of the Advocacy Subcommittee.She led a position paper urging the government to put in an enhanced level of resources in order to effect the necessary change in the workplace to make it pro-family and called by flexi-work legislation.[19]

In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, she said, "As a professional woman, I'm hoping that I can contribute to the women's agenda in Singapore. I'm a banker by profession, so hopefully this network can help me reach out to women, especially the professional women, and understand their issues."[20]

On the WW’s website, Foo said that "women bring a unique set of capabilities that complement those of men. Fully accessing women's unique talents, experience, ideas & perspectives will help achieve exceptional outcomes for our society & nation”[21]

Petir

In a commentary from PAP’s Petir magazine, Foo reflected on her first 100 days as an MP and provided her analysis on the “new normal” in Singapore politics.[22] She said that the new normal in Singapore politics was to “understand the social evolution in Singapore”, where Singaporeans were now more engaged in national issues. She added that it was about “renewing the PAP’s relationship with fellow Singaporeans, to forge a new social compact that considered shared values and Singaporeans’ aspirations” and said that there was no better time to serve Singapore.[23]

Education[edit]

Foo was educated at Ava Maria Convent School, Ipoh, Malaysia (1973–1982) and Loreto Normanhurst, Sydney, Australia (1983–1985). In 1989, she was awarded with a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) degree by the University of New South Wales, Australia, graduating with First Class Honours.[24]

Career[edit]

Foo is the Global Head, Priority and International Banking, Standard Chartered Bank, PLC[25]

Standard Chartered’s Priority Banking has a presence in 26 markets across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, providing a total banking relationship programme to cater to the financial needs of affluent individuals.[26] Foo noted that “by taking a customer-focused approach”, Standard Chartered is “seeing customers voting with their accounts”.[27] Under Foo's leadership, Priority Banking relaunched in 22 markets with enhanced proposition, Wealth Management income grew 20% annually, and loans grew at 31%.[28]

In March 2011, Foo was featured in Sunday Times’ Women At The Top series, an eight-part weekly series on successful women in Singapore.[29] In the interview, Foo revealed how she handled different roles with equanimity, with the writer noting that she had handled at least 10 different portfolios - from human resource to consumer banking to being chief executive officer (CEO) of the bank's operations in Thailand from 2006 to 2008.[30]

In the same interview, Foo spoke about her idea of leadership, which is 'having a vision, making people believe in that vision, and directing their energy into making that vision happen'. Foo added that “good leaders help people achieve what they want, great leaders bring people to achieve what they thought was not possible” and said she preferred the adjective 'achievement-oriented' over 'ambitious' to describe herself.[31]

From 2006-2008, she was President & CEO of Standard Chartered Bank (Thai) pcl with overall responsibility for the Bank in Thailand.[32] In the bank’s Annual Report for 2006, Foo mentioned that Standard Chartered Bank (Thail) had delivered a set of robust results, with a net profit of Baht 3,008 million, a 63 per cent increase from Baht 1,848 million. She built a strong balance sheet and capital base, achieved rating upgrade by Fitch, and rated second strongest bank in Thailand by Asian Bankers in 2007. Foo also oversaw the successful integration of Standard Chartered Bangkok Branch and Standard Charted Nakornthon Bank to better serve its customers.[33]

From 2003-2005, Mee Har was appointed the Country Head of Consumer Banking in China, spearheading the growth of the Consumer Banking franchise in China.[34]

Mee Har started her career in 1990 as a Management Consultant with Coopers and Lybrand Management Consultants (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) and PA Consulting Group. She later joined Jardine’s shipping group as the Head of HR.[35]

Foo has been an active champion of employee volunteerism, spearheading participation in a wide range of community programs, including advocacy, outreach and fund-raising for causes such as avoidable blindness, HIV/AIDs and healthy living. She started the inaugural “Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon”, which has become one of the largest sporting events.[36]

Personal life[edit]

After university graduation in 1989, Foo moved to Singapore as a permanent resident and married a Singaporean. She has 2 sons, ages 20 and 18 years.[37] She became a Singapore citizen in January 2008 after her stint of overseas postings (2003–2008), when she was eligible to apply for citizenship.[38] Foo spoke about 'Singapore being home for the last 21 years' and that she 'want to make a difference to the lives of Singaporeans'.[39]

In an interview with The Straits Times on September 8, 2008, Foo mentioned that taking up overseas postings in her job was "always a family decision". When Foo was offered the China position in 2003, her husband, then a general manager of a multinational company, quit his job to take up a China post with another company so that the family could relocate together.[40]

Being a firm believer that the family should be together for overseas postings, Foo made it a point to help her subordinates when they relocate. Foo added that “given the growth of the business in China, there were many occasions while I was in China where I successfully placed spouses within the bank's China operations."[41] When Foo was offered the CEO post in Thailand, her family rallied behind her again.[42]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.parliament.gov.sg/mp/foo-mee-har?viewcv=Foo Mee Har
  2. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIMEDIA/pdf/20110705/New%20line-up%20of%20Government%20Parliamentary%20Committees.pdf
  3. ^ “Public Accounts Committee”, Parliament of Singapore Website, <http://www.parliament.gov.sg/public-accounts-committee>]
  4. ^ http://www.razor.tv/site/servlet/segment/main/specials/General_Election/64010.html
  5. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/GeneralElection/News/Story/STIStory_666080.html
  6. ^ http://priority.standardchartered.com.sg/en/aboutUs.html
  7. ^ http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/pap-unveils-first-woman-candidate-ge-20110323-023023-196.html
  8. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_648370.html
  9. ^ Tessa Wong (3 Jun 2012). [<http://www.singapolitics.sg/news/pap-womens-wing-call-flexi-work-laws> "PAP Women's Wing call for flexi-work laws"]. Straits Times (Singapore). 
  10. ^ Foo Mee Har (1 Mar 2012). "Parliamentary Speech on Budget 2012: Restructuring to Sustain Growth (1 March)". Facebook (Singapore). 
  11. ^ > "GE 2011; Foo Mee Har on maintaining a vibrant SME sector". Channel NewsAsia (Singapore). 1 Mar 2012. 
  12. ^ Foo Mee Har (1 Mar 2012). "Parliamentary Speech on Budget 2012: Restructuring to Sustain Growth (1 March)". Facebook (Singapore). 
  13. ^ > "GE 2011; Foo Mee Har on maintaining a vibrant SME sector". Channel NewsAsia (Singapore). 1 Mar 2012. 
  14. ^ Foo Mee Har (2 Mar 2012). > "A Home for Life (Parliamentary Speech on Ministry of National Development COS) (2 March)". Facebook (Singapore). 
  15. ^ Sumita Sreedharan (3 Mar 2012). > "HDB to check on flat sellers". TODAY (Singapore). 
  16. ^ http://www.straitstimes.com/mnt/html/parliament/Mar9_HalimahYacob.pdf
  17. ^ Foo Mee Har (8 Mar 2012). > "Accessibility and Integration of Schemes (8 March)". Facebook (Singapore). 
  18. ^ Ayer Rajah Grassroots Organisations (Issue 01 2012). "The needy get help from the neighbourhood". Our Ayer Rajah (Singapore). 
  19. ^ http://www.pmo.gov.sg/content/pmosite/mediacentre/inthenews/seniorminister/2011/January/Partys_GE_line-up_nearly_done_SM_Goh.html
  20. ^ http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1106322/1/.html
  21. ^ http://womenswing.pap.org.sg/articles/womenmps.php?id=189
  22. ^ http://www.pap.org.sg/uploads/ap/8250/documents/petir_sept_oct_2011.pdf
  23. ^ http://publichouse.sg/categories/community/item/192-no-better-time-to-serve
  24. ^ http://www.pap.org.sg/uploads/ap/8022/documents/foo_mee_har_cv.pdf
  25. ^ http://priority.standardchartered.com.sg/en/aboutUs.html
  26. ^ Standard Chartered Annual Report (2009). "Understanding the needs of our Priority customers". Standard Chartered Annual Review 2009. 
  27. ^ Standard Chartered Annual Report (2009). "Understanding the needs of our Priority customers". Standard Chartered Annual Review 2009. 
  28. ^ "Consumer and Wholesale Banking Presentations". Standard Chartered Investor Trip 2010. Nov 2010. 
  29. ^ Wong Kim Hoh (6 Mar 2011). "Calm and composed, come what may". The Straits Times (Singapore). 
  30. ^ Wong Kim Hoh (6 Mar 2011). "Calm and composed, come what may". The Straits Times (Singapore). 
  31. ^ Wong Kim Hoh (6 Mar 2011). "Calm and composed, come what may". The Straits Times (Singapore). 
  32. ^ http://ge.pap.org.sg/candidate/foomeehar
  33. ^ Standard Chartered Thai (2006). "Chief Executive Officer’s Review". Annual Report 2006 (Thailand). 
  34. ^ Grace Ng (10 Sep 2008). "Moving is a family decision". The Straits Times (Singapore). 
  35. ^ http://ge.pap.org.sg/candidate/foomeehar
  36. ^ http://ge.pap.org.sg/candidate/foomeehar
  37. ^ http://www.pap.org.sg/uploads/ap/8022/documents/foo_mee_har_cv.pdf
  38. ^ RazorTV (Singapore). 23 Mar 2011 http://www.razor.tv/site/servlet/segment/main/specials/General_Election/61150.html#/site/servlet/ajax/page;jsessionid=AA52239DEC06FD67BD8F39F5B94EEECD.01?channel=contentbean%3a59830&view=asLargeVideoListBoxPage&page=1&autoLoad=true&video=contentbean%3a61150@59830_largeListPage@1309093551621 |url= missing title (help). 
  39. ^ Robin Chan (24 Mar 2011). "PAP introduces another three candidates; Banking on people skills". The Straits Times (Singapore). 
  40. ^ Grace Ng (10 Sep 2008). "Moving is a family decision". The Straits Times (Singapore). 
  41. ^ Grace Ng (10 Sep 2008). "Moving is a family decision". The Straits Times (Singapore). 
  42. ^ Grace Ng (10 Sep 2008). "Moving is a family decision". The Straits Times (Singapore).