Of parenting, career advice and onions with Desmond Choo

By March 6, 2018Current

TL;DR – This Labour MP shares his fitness secrets.

It’s been two years since I first met Desmond Choo and some things have changed – he no longer goes to the gym every day, his daughter is now in pre-school, there’s the addition of baby number 2 to his family, he is now busier than ever (especially with Budget debate and COS happening right now as you read this) but he is still as charming as ever.

Haha.

Some things have also changed on my end. I am now a mother, or specifically, working mother and I guess as the Labour Movement’s champion for Women and Family, Desmond will have quite a fair bit of relevant advice (both at home and in the office) to dish out. The most important being how to look good while juggling a career, member of parliament duties and being a busy father to a toddler. The secret, my friends, lies in his not-so-secret smoothie blend (the concoction is pictured in the video above) every morning which includes a variety of disgusting vegetables such as onions.

Yes, you read that right. ONIONS.

But frivolous stuff aside, Desmond is always trying to help young people balance their personal and career goals.

So, what keeps Desmond up at night these days?

Other than baby number 2, Desmond had also been working on his Budget 2018 debate speech. He is concerned about how young workers do not know enough about the waves of disruption and how Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) can help. He is also actively involved in the work of converting ITMs into real jobs for workers.

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Together with his other Labour MPs, they give the workers a voice in Parliament and help bring to light the challenges the working people in Singapore face, and also proactively recommend options for the Government to consider. In addition, Desmond is also championing for better social support for young working parents.

Earlier this week, Desmond had delivered his Budget debate speech in Parliament where he covered how to plug young workers into ITMs amidst the waves of disruption. He said,

Ever more rapid technological disruptions will continue to fundamentally change how work is done. Singapore’s limited resources meant that we have ever narrower margins of error to prepare ourselves for the new economy.

Our workforce, especially the workers of the future, must be able to take on future challenges quickly and adroitly. The Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) are important guides to help companies and workers understand and prepare for this future. We have committed $4.5 billion for this effort. Ideally, employers and employees are aligned in the ITMs and work towards redesigning jobs for the future, promote innovation and seek and seize opportunities to go international, where possible.

Young parents, the “double-sandwiched” class

Other than touching on how to plug young workers into ITMs, Desmond also pushed for more social support to help young parents balance their work and home responsibilities better. He worries, in particular, for young parents who are “double-sandwiched”.

Young parents for example, would require more support in the new economy as they can be considered as “double sandwiched” – middle-income, and also having to take care of young children, and older parents.

As our Singaporeans are marrying later, families get smaller and people live longer, the responsibility of taking care of both young and old can converge at a point in a young couple’s life and for a prolonged period. Such families would have to cope with the stresses and rising costs of looking after children and meet the needs of healthcare and other forms of care for their aged parents. Therefore, we need to review how our subsidies for childcare and student care are structured, especially for parents with more than one young child and also elderly parents to take care of.

Desmond understands how many young working parents have to juggle their work and home responsibilities and how hard it can be to balance their duties at home with their careers. This is even more so for working parents who would have added responsibilities of caring for their elderly parents at home.

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To this end, Desmond is calling for the Government to also consider making eldercare or family care leave mandatory in Singapore. He opines that this could provide some relief to Singaporeans who must take care of family members who are not covered by childcare leave or parental leave.

You can watch his full Budget debate speech here.

And then… what else?

As Director of Industry Transformation and Productivity, Desmond also looks at helping workers to be more efficient and productive by assisting them to seize opportunities accruing from industry transformation.

Additionally, Desmond is the executive secretary of the Union of Telecoms Employees of Singapore and Young NTUC, the Labour Movement’s wing for working adults aged 35 and below.

Beyond his appointments at work, Desmond is also the PAP MP for Tampines GRC and Mayor of the North East Community Development Council.

Given Desmond’s work activities and busyness being a father of two little daughters, it is little wonder that he doesn’t have time to head to the gym frequently. He thus takes the stairs from venue to venue when he’s at the 32-storey One Marina Boulevard as part of his daily exercise. This probably explains his fit physique.

I can’t decide which is worse though – playing StairMaster or onions for breakfast.

 

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Flora Isabelle Lim

Author Flora Isabelle Lim

On a constant quest to be a really professional internet person.

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