New MP and Aljunied candidate take up senior posts at NTUC

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Melvin Yong (left) is NTUC's director of industrial relations fieldwork, while Mr Shamsul Kamar, part of PAP's Aljunied GRC team, holds a deputy director post. ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM, DESMOND FOO

Newly elected MP Melvin Yong and former teacher Shamsul Kamar - who was part of the People's Action Party (PAP) slate in Aljunied GRC - have taken full-time senior management jobs in the labour movement.

They are the latest in a line of PAP politicians to join the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), which has long been a training ground for new and aspiring PAP MPs.

Mr Yong, 43, a former assistant commissioner of police, and Mr Shamsul, also 43 and a department head at Spectra Secondary School, quit the civil service to contest the Sept 11 General Election.

Mr Yong contested the election as part of the PAP's Tanjong Pagar GRC team led by labour chief Chan Chun Sing, while Mr Shamsul was in the team that narrowly lost to the Workers' Party in Aljunied GRC.

Mr Yong joined the NTUC as the director of industrial relations fieldwork, while Mr Shamsul holds the post of a deputy director.

Both are newly created positions and the NTUC confirmed they started work yesterday . "(Both) indicated interest to help workers and contribute to the labour movement. We interviewed them and found them suitable," said NTUC human resource director Jacqueline Chin.

Their responsibilities are related to industrial relations and workers' programmes, she said, adding that they will be assigned to specific unions and NTUC departments later.

The Straits Times understands that Mr Chan personally approached both men as he moved to beef up NTUC's leadership ranks.

Between the general elections of 2011 and this year, the NTUC had six high-profile departures. Former deputy secretary-general Ong Ye Kung left in 2012 for the private sector, and labour MPs Halimah Yacob and Josephine Teo took up political appointments. Mr Seng Han Thong retired, while Mr Zainudin Nordin and Mr Alex Yam left full-time NTUC roles for jobs at Nanyang Polytechnic and the PAP headquarters respectively.

In that period, only three new labour MPs joined the NTUC's ranks: Mr Ang Hin Kee, Mr Patrick Tay and Mr Zainal Sapari.

Mr Yong and Mr Shamsul are looking forward to learning from and working with union leaders.

Mr Yong said his experience in the police force and working with government bodies will be useful in his new role. Said Mr Shamsul: "Some of the issues that our workers face mirror those of my constituents, especially those who face job- or financial-related ones. I will be in a better position to help both the workers and my constituents."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2015, with the headline New MP and Aljunied candidate take up senior posts at NTUC. Subscribe