Book on pioneer unionist Ho See Beng launched

The 140-page book "Ho See Beng: The Washerwoman's Son" was launched on Friday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and former president S.R. Nathan at the NTUC headquarters at Shenton Way. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
The 140-page book "Ho See Beng: The Washerwoman's Son" was launched on Friday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and former president S.R. Nathan at the NTUC headquarters at Shenton Way. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - A book on pioneer unionist Ho See Beng was launched on Friday.

Mr Ho died in 2008 at age 90. He was the first chairman of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) from 1962 to 1964, its president from 1964 to 1966 and its secretary-general from 1966 to 1967. He was also a member of the People's Action Party and an MP between 1963 and 1984.

He was one of two top leaders at NTUC's helm following the 1961 split of the Singapore Trades Union Congress into the Barisan Sosialis-linked Singapore Association of Trade Unions (SATU) and the People's Action Party-backed NTUC.

The other top NTUC leader was former Singapore president Mr Devan Nair, who was NTUC's first secretary-general.

"While Devan planned and strategised, See Beng worked the Chinese ground," wrote author Ramachandran Menon, retired Singapore Armed Forces Colonel, of the relationship of Mr Ho and Mr Devan Nair in the book.

The 140-page book "Ho See Beng: The Washerwoman's Son" was launched on Friday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and former president S.R. Nathan at the NTUC headquarters at Shenton Way.

Mr Nathan, who commissioned the book to honour Mr Ho, describes the him in the book's foreword as "an important Singaporean of rare quality", and whose "greatest quality was his ability to listen to others and make others listen to him".

Labour chief Lim Swee Say credits Mr Ho as having "played a pivotal role in shaping the labour movement".

The book is published by The Straits Times Press.