Free tickets to Gardens by the Bay attractions for over 200,000 less affluent NTUC members

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng and the NTUC Central Committee members joined 350 less affluent union members and their families at Gardens by the Bay for a family festive celebration.
NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng and the NTUC Central Committee members joined 350 less affluent union members and their families at Gardens by the Bay for a family festive celebration.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Instead of spending her entire school holiday at home watching videos, Secondary 2 student Fok Xin Yi spent Wednesday morning (Dec 19) taking in the sights and smells of the Flower Dome with her family.

She was given a free tour of the Christmas display in the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay with her father and aunt.

"It's very special because they put a lot of different species of flowers and trees and they told us about the background of the trees," she said.

They were among 350 less affluent union members and their families at an event at the Gardens organised by the National Trades Union Congress.

Xin Yi's father Fok Hup Seng, 62, is a member of the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union. The cleaner at Yishun Community Hospital earns about $1,100 a month, and said he has visited the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories a couple of times before as part of other free activities.

"I wouldn't come here on my own, as it might be expensive," he said in Mandarin.

His sister, Madam Fok Hup Yee, 66, who is retired, added: "It's a good opportunity for us to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere because otherwise we would just spend our days normally."

They may get another chance to visit the conservatories next year, as NTUC is partnering Gardens by the Bay to give free tickets to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest to about 237,000 less affluent union members, whose wages are in the lowest 25 per cent among all members.

Each of these union members will receive four tickets, with the tickets available for redemption in several batches during the year. NTUC did not say what the cut-off income level was.

The offer was announced by labour chief Ng Chee Meng on Wednesday.

Mr Ng, who is NTUC secretary-general, said in a speech that attractions like Gardens by the Bay, which receives about one million visitors each month, boost Singapore's tourism revenue and contribute to the economy so that the country has resources to pursue its interests, such as in national security.

"Given the recent happenings, it is doubly important for us to appreciate that we have a safe and secure country," he said.

Mr Ng, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said a safe country gives the Government space to pursue its diplomatic policies, and allows Singapore to maintain a good economy.

"Let our union leaders encourage companies to put their best front forward, in making sure that we have a strong economy, in promoting the welfare of our workers, and in totality through tripartism we can create the best outcomes for our country, for our society in the different sectors and also for our workers," he said.

Gardens by the Bay chief executive Felix Loh also said in a speech that he is glad to continue the vision of founding chief executive Kiat W. Tan, to ensure that not just a privileged few can visit the Gardens.

"He wanted to make sure that Singaporeans can come any time to the most precious land in downtown Singapore, (that) all segments can come and enjoy it," he said.