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UK Elections: S'pore-born candidate in polls
Tue, Apr 13, 2010
The New Paper

WHEN UK voters go to the polls on May 6, voters in the west London constituency of Hammersmith will find Singapore-born Mrs Merlene Toh Emerson the Liberal Democrat party candidate on their ballot paper.

Mrs Emerson was born in Singapore in 1960.

She told The Straits Times: "I still feel fundamentally Singaporean."

Nearly 25 years after first arriving in the UK, Mrs Emerson became a UK citizen in 2005, joining the Liberal Democrats because she "believes in the party's values of social justice, civil liberties and the right of the individual to live a life free from discrimination and ignorance".

She is one of six candidates for Hammersmith, a newly-created constituency, after the boundaries of the former electorate of Hammersmith and Fulham were redrawn.

Previous election patterns show the area divided between the opposition Conservatives and the ruling Labour party.

The 2010 ballot is predicted to be close, so Mrs Emerson may benefit from voters' reported disenchantment with both the major parties.

A BBC report about candidates with Chinese backgrounds had featured her.

She is currently a director of the Chinese Welfare Trust and the Richmond Housing Partnership - a public housing organisation which manages 10,000 homes in south-west London.

Mrs Emerson told The Straits Times that she is "keen to fight for justice for any community".

She does not see it as "ethnic politics" but a vote for policies, values and visions for society, not based on race.

According to the Liberal Democrats party website, Mrs Emerson had moved to London in 1979 as a law student. After graduating from King's College London, she went on to get a Masters of Law degree at Cambridge University.

She qualified as a solicitor and worked at a leading law firm in London. She returned briefly to work in Singapore, before going back to the UK in 1990.

She is a mother of three boys, aged 11 to 17.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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