International Women’s Day Edition: The ’90s—Ms. Rahayu Mahzam

This is 1 of the 11 interview features as part of our International Women’s Day Special Edition.

By Noelle Leow (21A01B) 

Ms Rahayu Mahzam, from the class of 1998, is probably best known as an MP of Jurong GRC. Apart from representing minority interests in Parliament as a female Malay-Muslim MP, Ms Rahayu is also a lawyer and mother. Read on to find out more about her experiences in the fields of politics, law and motherhood, and her favourite memories from Raffles. 

  1. How has your experience in law, particularly civil litigation and family law, complemented the work you do as an MP?

There are many aspects to the work of the MP—speaking in Parliament, making appeals for residents, resolving issues, engaging different people. The training and experience I had as a lawyer has definitely helped me play the different roles. My training helps me organise my thoughts, speak in public and advocate for my residents. Because of my experience, I am comfortable working with people, I am able to appreciate their needs and issues better and look at ways to find and negotiate solutions.

  1. As one of three female Malay MPs, could you share some important takeaways you’ve had from representing minority interests in Parliament?

The minority community is like any other groups that MP represents. The key thing is that you need to be on the ground with the people, always listen to them and understand their needs. Building relationships and trust is key, and that takes time. Sometimes you need to explain difficult trade-offs and policies and if you have people’s trust, they know you care and are doing your best to advocate for their interests.

3.  Apart from being a lawyer and MP, you are also a mother to a 3-year-old. How do you juggle these commitments and achieve a good work-life balance?

My son will be four this year and is quite a handful! Some days are better than others. It can get quite challenging and tiring. And I salute all those who juggle work and care-giving roles. I am fortunate because I have a very supportive family and my parents, who help care for my child, live nearby. What works for me is to try to dedicate time, prioritise and know when to ask for help when I need it.

4. What is your favourite memory from your time in Raffles?

Hanging out with friends and classmates and various spots around the school. Just being able to share stories with them and laugh things off, always made my day better!

5. What advice would you give to Rafflesians aspiring to enter law or politics, or who want to give back to the community?

When you choose these professions, you need to appreciate that you are in service to others. Always be humble, respectful and sincere in whatever that you do. The behind-the-scenes work can be challenging and not at all glamorous. But if you truly care about others and want to make a difference, you will find the motivation to continue to work hard.

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