NTUC nominates veteran unionist as NMP candidate

Ms K. Thanaletchimi is president of the Healthcare Services Employees' Union.
Ms K. Thanaletchimi is president of the Healthcare Services Employees' Union.

Veteran unionist K. Thanaletchimi has been put forward by the labour movement to be a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) to represent its interests in the House.

The 50-year-old is the second person to emerge as a hopeful in the ongoing search for non-partisan Singaporeans to champion causes in Parliament. The other is entrepreneur Kuik Shiao-Yin, the only person from the most recent batch of NMPs who has confirmed that she is seeking a second term.

Other groups declined to reveal who they planned to nominate, but said they were in the process of shortlisting names to submit.

The deadline for submissions is 4.30pm next Tuesday.

Ms Thanaletchimi is an elected member of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) central committee - the labour movement's highest decision-making body - and president of the Healthcare Services Employees' Union (HSEU).

In 1996, at the age of 30, she was elected president of the National University Hospital Employees' Union (NUHEU ).

Later, she drove the merger of NUHEU and the Healthcare Corporation of Singapore Staff Union.

This led to the formation in 2006 of the HSEU, which she now heads.

She worked with hospitals' management to create job opportunities for Singaporean healthcare workers, said the NTUC in a statement endorsing her candidacy yesterday.

Ms Thanaletchimi said that if she is appointed as an NMP, she "will continue to advance the interests of all working people on issues that matter most to them, such as jobs and cost of living".

She is also keen to champion healthcare affordability and women's issues, she added.

The NMP scheme was launched in 1990 to provide more alternative voices in Parliament, and up to nine NMPs can be appointed.

Nominations for NMPs are also invited from seven sectors: business and industry; the professions; the labour movement; social service organisations; the civic and people sector; tertiary education institutions; and the arts, media and sports.

Singapore Academy of Medicine master Lim Shih Hui said the professions group has decided on the two candidates it will propose, but declined to name who they were.

He added that the group, which he coordinates, received a total of eight nominations.

As for the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), it is currently shortlisting candidates for the business and industry group.

Said SBF chairman Teo Siong Seng: "Some people have come forward and shown interest in being NMPs. We want to make sure that whoever we nominate, we first go through their application and submit serious candidates."

Meanwhile, Drama Box artistic director Kok Heng Leun told The Straits Times earlier this week that the arts community was still discussing whom to propose.

"We're still searching and talking among ourselves. Quite a short time was given this round," he said.

Forms for the scheme are available at Parliament House or on the Parliament website: www. parliament.gov.sg/NMP

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'NTUC nominates veteran unionist as NMP candidate'. Print Edition | Subscribe