Chee Hong Tat to replace Koh Poh Koon as NTUC deputy sec-gen on May 15

Mr Chee Hong Tat (left) will join NTUC and become its deputy secretary-general, replacing Dr Koh Poh Koon, who will take on a new appointment in the Manpower Ministry as Senior Minister of State. PHOTOS: NTUC, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs Chee Hong Tat will join the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) on May 15 and become its deputy secretary-general, replacing Dr Koh Poh Koon, who is Senior Minister of State for Health.

In a statement on Thursday (May 6), NTUC said Mr Chee - who is relinquishing his appointment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the Cabinet changes announced last month - will be co-opted into its central committee.

The 47-year-old will also take on the role of group director of NTUC's training and transformation group. In addition, he has been appointed as a cadre member of the Union of Power and Gas Employees (Upage) and an executive secretary in the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries (UWEEI).

As part of the Cabinet reshuffle, which will take effect on May 15, Dr Koh will take on a new appointment in the Manpower Ministry as Senior Minister of State, in addition to his role in the Ministry of Health (MOH). The 49-year-old will be relinquishing his positions in the labour movement.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had written to NTUC president Mary Liew on April 21 to request that Dr Koh return full-time to government service, and that the labour movement consider accepting Mr Chee in his place. NTUC's central committee met the next day and accepted PM Lee's request.

Mr Chee, who received the Distinguished Service Award at this year's May Day Awards for being a strong advocate for healthcare and public transport workers, is "no stranger to the labour movement", said NTUC.

As the former chief executive of the Energy Market Authority, he worked closely with Upage to upskill the workforce in tandem with industry trends. He also took on an advisory role for NTUC's unit for small and medium-sized enterprises in 2018 and worked with NTUC to engage these firms.

During his tenure at MOH, he worked with union leaders to ensure the well-being of healthcare workers. At the Ministry of Transport, Mr Chee also initiated and actively engaged unions in the transport sector.

Mr Chee also brings with him experience working at other ministries, such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry, where he worked closely with companies and trade associations, and the Ministry of Education, where he helped to drive initiatives such as SkillsFuture and lifelong learning.

Mr Chee said he hopes to build on the work that the labour movement has done over the years.

"I am excited to start work, walk the ground and learn from my fellow union leaders as we strive to protect and advance workers' interests and livelihoods," he said.

In a Facebook post, NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said that with Mr Chee on board, the labour movement "will be able to do more to help our workers gain better wages, welfare and work prospects".

Dr Koh was co-opted into the NTUC central committee as deputy secretary-general on April 23, 2018.

Since then, he has pushed NTUC's training efforts, spearheading the formation of its training and transformation group.

Under his leadership, NTUC has set up more than 600 company training committees and helped over 100 businesses to adopt the operation and technology road map tool. He has also been a strong advocate for the improvement of salaries for lower-wage workers through the progressive wage model.

Mr Chee Hong Tat (right) is relinquishing his appointment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the Cabinet changes announced last month, while Dr Koh Poh Koon will take on a new appointment in the Manpower Ministry as Senior Minister of State, in addition to his role in the Ministry of Health. PHOTO: NTUC

Dr Koh was also the executive secretary for the Metal Industries Workers' Union from Sept 1, 2018, to March 31, 2021, and UWEEI from April 1 this year.

As executive secretary, he worked to strengthen labour management relations with many companies and championed the interests of workers in areas such as wages, welfare and work prospects, said NTUC.

Dr Koh said on Facebook that workers' interests and training will continue to be issues close to his heart.

"I look forward to future opportunities where I will be working with my sisters and brothers (in the labour movement) to further strengthen the bonds of our tripartite partnership," he said.

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