By Tom Pang – Nee Hao’s Political Editor
Sophisticated, visionary and talented are perhaps just a few superlatives to describe the Liberal Democrat’s candidate Merlene Toh Emerson.
Emerson has been picked as a candidate for the approaching London Assembly election, where she hopes to serve as a London-wide assembly member.
Not only is she the first female ethnic Chinese candidate seeking election, but she has placed the Chinese and Asian communities at the heart of her campaign.
Her vision is to simply empower the underrepresented Chinese communities through various ambitious proposals.
Fairer and More Equal Society
Having been born in Singapore and educated at British universities, she knows all too well about potential obstacles Chinese and Asian people could encounter in Britain. Emerson passionately opposes any form of discrimination. Recently, Runnymede Trust released a document, which detailed ethnic inequalities in housing, education and employment in London boroughs. Emerson commented that Chinese students may excel in education, but questioned employment prospects in job markets. She stresses the need for more Chinese people to enter public life to combat the perceived problem and achieve greater equality.
It has been pledged that, if elected, she would continue to oppose and stand-up to all forms of discrimination.
In 2006 Merlene Toh Emerson founded the Chinese Liberal Democrat group, which strides to encourage the underrepresented Chinese communities to become politically active; and in 2008 she rose to Director of Chinese Welfare Trust to ensure continued services to elderly Chinese people.
It is quite clear that Merlene Toh Emerson would work towards a better future for all Chinese-British people.
Recent unfortunate events surrounding London’s Chinatown has also been a focus for the Liberal Democrat candidate. Stricter border controls has resulted in – what many deem to be – unfair targeting of unregulated migrants in Chinatown. This, coupled with extortionate rental fees and short-term planning rules which encourages outlets to convert into betting shops, could jeopardise the town’s future. Having recognised the significance of Chinatown, Emerson has committed herself to fighting its problems; as an assembly member, she has made it clear that she would firstly work with borough councils and oversee the regulations affecting Chinese businesses and work to restore relations between both councils and communities.
Chinese Labour Corps
Another issue she is campaigning for is a permanent memorial site for the Chinese Labour Corps of World War One. An estimated 140,000 men served in the Chinese Labour Corps for the Allied forces in 1914. It is often a neglected fact that China participated in the First World War. With the securing of a memorial, Emerson believes that the sacrifices made would receive recognition and never be forgotten.
In addition to championing causes for the Chinese community, she has a bigger vision for the whole of society.
As director of Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association, she has first-hand experience of delivering policies to ease housing pressures. The Liberal Democrats have launched an initiative to build 200,000 new houses.
At present, the option of acquiring a part-time Travelcard, for workers and occasional underground travellers, does not exist. Emerson believes this should be amended. She suggests a half-priced ticket, available before 7:30am, would dramatically aid thousands of people and even ease overcrowding in London’s underground services.
Increasing police numbers
Emerson is vehemently opposed to the proposal of scrapping all 1,000 police community support officers. Believing the police force to be the first line of justice, she fears for the victims’ safety. She remains optimistic, however, that with the introduction of an extra 3,000 officers, who would target key locations of misconduct, criminality would be lowered.
Holding the mayor to account
If elected, she believes that her legalistic knowledge would provide her with the necessary ability to scrutinise the mayor and assembly’s work.
Merlene Toh Emerson is an approachable and down-to-earth candidate, who has a list of much needed admirable policies. Her openness and integrity continues to win her support from political opponents. Throughout her political career, people’s needs have been at the forefront of her priorities. Yet having already previously stood in two elections, Emerson certainly has the experience and political gravitas to make a real difference to society. Unlike so many candidates which have come and gone before, she truly has the political energy and acumen to bring her policies to fruition to aid the whole of society.
Can she count on your vote?
How to vote:
Polling stations will be open from 7:00am and close 10:00pm.
Voters will be issued with three different coloured – pink, yellow and orange – ballot papers.
The voter’s first and second preferences for mayor can be voted for using the pink ballot paper.
Voters use the yellow ballot paper to choose their preferred constituency member.
The orange ballot paper is used for voters to choose a London-wide assembly member.
Saliently, Merlene Toh Emerson is a list candidate hoping to represent London-wide, her name is not on the ballot paper, you need to vote for “Caroline Pidgeon’s London Liberal Democrats”.
If 10% of the vote goes to the Liberal Democrats, then she will be elected on to the London Assembly.
What people have to say:
““The words dynamic and determined spring to mind when describing Merlene.
“She will make a committed and energetic GLA member, not only heavily involved with issues reflecting the concerns of London’s diverse communities but also with a strong understanding of the need to maintain and develop London’s vital role as an economic and cultural hub.”
Lord Tim Clement-Jones.
“Merlene has my full endorsement.
“She is a powerful supporter of liberal values and a great champion of diversity.”
Baroness Sue Garden
“I usually vote straight for my party but I am reserving one of my London Assembly vote for Merlene Toh Emerson! We would like to see an ASEAN citizen that would be able to help the other ASEAN diasporas like the Filipino Diaspora.”