Ever since the new electoral boundaries were announced for Singapore’s upcoming election, there’s been one question on everyone’s mind:
When will the circuit breaker end?
Yes, Singaporeans were too busy having their lives upended by the circuit breaker to think about any election.
But now that the circuit breaker is over, people are turning their attention to the country’s upcoming election.
And this year, everyone’s eyes are on one potential political newcomer; Singapore’s first ever female general, Gan Siow Huang.
But who exactly is Gan Siow Huang, and why is everyone talking about her?
Here are 10 facts about Gan Siow Huang, a potential MP in the making.
1. She Studied At Raffles Girls School
Born in 1975, Gan studied at Raffles Girls’ School, one of the best secondary schools in Singapore.
She graduated in 1990 and began her tertiary education at Victoria Junior College.
2. She Started as an Air-Traffic Controller in the SAF
Gan, who is a weapon systems officer by training, started as an air traffic controller after joining the Singapore Armed Forces in 1993.
She has held various command and staff appointments in her military career, working her way up to commander of the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s 203 squadron, commander of the Air Surveillance and Control Group, and Head of the Joint Manpower Department at the Ministry of Defence.
3. She Received an SAF Scholarship The First Year It Was Available To Women
Those awarded the scholarship are groomed for senior command and management positions in the SAF upon their return from overseas undergraduate studies.
Gan was one of the first four women to receive the inauguratory scholarship, according to AsiaOne.
4. She Has Degrees From MIT & the London School of Economics
On her scholarship, Gan studied at the London School of Economics and graduated with a First Class Honours in Economics.
She was also the first female military officer to be sent to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, where she graduated with Master of Business Administration.
As you’ll see throughout this article, Gan has many “firsts” to her name, a trend that has continued throughout her career.
5. She Received the Public Administration Medal (Military) in 2013
The MIT graduate also received the Public Administration Medal (Military) in 2013. Instituted in 1963, the medal is awarded to those who exhibit outstanding efficiency, competence, and industry.
Man, who is this woman and how have we never heard of her before?
6. She Became the First Female General in the SAF
On 1 Jul 2015, Gan placed her name in the record books by becoming Singapore’s first-ever female general in the history of the SAF, after she was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General.
Gan was only 40 years old at the time.
According to MS News, Gan attributes her success to hard work and good performance, believing that women armed with these qualities would be promoted as readily as men.
7. She Resigned From the SAF to Become Deputy CEO of e2i
After nine months as Chief of Staff – Air Staff in the SAF, Gan resigned in March of this year.
The 45-year-old then joined e2i, the National Trades Union Congress’ (NTUC) Employment and Employability Institute, and became deputy chief executive of the labour movement.
8. She’s Chief Commissioner of Girl Guides Singapore
On 21 May, youth organisation Girl Guides Singapore (GGS) announced that Gan would be their new Chief Commissioner.
The organisation said that Gan joined the organisation because she wanted to “contribute back to the Movement which had played a pivotal role in shaping her into the female leader she is today.”
Gan believes that GGS empowers girls and young women to be their best, “to push boundaries and achieve outstanding things.”
Well, the organisation certainly couldn’t have chosen a better role model for the young girls in their movement.
Gan has also mentored young women at Young Women’s Leadership Connection (YWLC), a leading platform for young women leaders in the country.
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Meet Ms Gan Siow Huang, YWLC mentor and Singapore’s first female Brigadier General. She shares with us her thoughts on mentorship and how she provides guidance to her mentee Jesslyn who is in her last year in NUS. Link in bio. Also, application for 2018 Mentorship Programme is now open!
9. She’s Married To a Former Navy Officer & Has 3 Kids
The former Brigadier-General is married to a former Naval officer and is a proud mother of three girls, according to AsiaOne.
Gan met her husband through the military in 1994 – he was a naval officer studying in Britain on an SAF scholarship. They got married in 1998.
10. She’s in the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame
This is hardly surprising; Gan was inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame on 23 March 2019.
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Former RGS Principal, the late Miss Noel Evelyn Norris and RGS alumna, Ms Gan Siow Huang (class of '90) were among the eight inspiring women who were newly-inducted into the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame this year. They were honoured during the International Women's Day Gala Dinner 2019 and 6th Singapore Women's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which was held on Saturday, 23 March 2019 at the St. Regis Hotel. Principal, Mrs Poh Mun See and Head Girl, Goh Shi Sien Sarah were invited by the organisers to join the celebration and were also part of the RGS community who turned up to celebrate the late Miss Norris's induction 😊 . . . . . 🔗Click on the link at our profile to read more!
Notable Hall of Fame members include President Halimah Yacob and former Undersecretary-General of the United Nations Noeleen Heyser.
An Inspiration to Women
Ever since she joined the SAF, Gan has been breaking records and reaching new heights with her swift ascension up the ranks.
Commenting on her incredible achievement in becoming the first female general, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Gan’s historic promotion “shows that with hard work and diligence, gender is no barrier.”
Gan is certainly an inspiration to young girls and women in Singapore, showing that despite all the challenges women face, it’s possible to succeed with hard work, determination, and competence.
Due to her participation in grassroots activities in Bishan and a recent walkabout with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, many are speculating that our first female general could be a new candidate in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, which has been downsized from five seats to four seats.
This is mere speculation at this point, but one thing’s for sure: if her military career is anything to go by, Gan’s foray into politics will be a successful one.