Fresh from her short-lived Parliament days, former Nominated MP Eunice Olsen is disarmingly friendly and chatty. Apart from pursuing the piano and volunteering her time to worthy causes, the ex-Miss Singapore-Universe is also co-hosting Art Central’s very upbeat arts program Front with Debbie Wong and Kumar.
What is your current state of mind?
While in Cambodia on a goodwill trip in May, I met a 13-year-old girl who was forced into prostitution. She had to have sex with at least 10 men every day. She tried to escape, but was caught and tortured. Today, her brains are slowly being eaten up by AIDS. Her plight has pulled me into reflection. What if I had been born there? What would have happened to me? I understand fully that it is the doing and not the reading that is most important.
Do you think apathy is prevalent in Singapore?
It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist if you don’t see it. In Singapore, our system of education enables us. We should use it to enable others. That’s education.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to merge the piano and volunteerism. I write soppy instrumental ballads and pair them with my pictures of Cambodia. I’m finding more ways to merge all that I do.
What was your NMP experience like?
Amazing and invaluable. I miss Parliament. When you do the work it seems overwhelming, but you have to constantly bring yourself back to why you’re doing it. I look back and realize I was a part of something constructive. Parliament was dissolved before I could fulfill my two years. Now, I’m suffering withdrawal symptoms.
What is your biggest achievement?
I have two, to know that I helped initiate the child-sex tourism issue and the handicap ramps in buses / accessibility issue.
Do you think you’ll be an NMP again?
I would love to because I’m not done yet. I’ve always wanted to speak in Mandarin in Parliament. I hope to be given a chance to do that.
How do you spend your Sunday mornings?
My dad works in Batam and returns on weekdays, so family days are on weekdays. I use Sundays to read, play the piano, hang out with friends and try to go to church.
What is your idea of hell?
Not being able to find meaning in anything I do. Questioning myself all the time. Am I happy? Should I have done something else?
What is your guilty pleasure?
Chocolates and more chocolates!
What inspires you?
My mum, dad and godmother. They always say whatever I choose to do, believe in it and commit to it.
How do you recharge?
Doing absolutely nothing. There’s a lot of pleasure in doing absolutely nothing.
What’s playing in your ipod/MP3/CD player?
Black Eyed Peas, Sergio Mendes, and “Absolutely Everybody” by Vanessa Amorosi.
What accessory sets you apart?
Watches. If I don’t wear anything else I must at least wear a watch. I wear my watches to sleep.
What did you believe at 18 that you wish you still believed now?
Oh! I was so young then! My perception on volunteering has evolved. You have to walk the talk.
What trait do you appreciate most in others?
Compassion. I’m drawn to people who are compassionate.
Which living person do you admire most and would like to invite for dinner?
Bill Gates. What brilliance and magnanimity! A great businessman with a greater heart … I want to know how we can hook up, man! Mr. Bill Gates, you’re invited to dinner, anytime!