NTUC backs Halimah's bid for presidency

Madam Halimah Yacob with union leaders at the NTUC National Day Observance Ceremony at Our Tampines Hub yesterday. It was her first appearance at a union event after she announced her intention to contest in the upcoming presidential election.
Madam Halimah Yacob with union leaders at the NTUC National Day Observance Ceremony at Our Tampines Hub yesterday. It was her first appearance at a union event after she announced her intention to contest in the upcoming presidential election.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Affiliated unions expected to mobilise workers to show support on Nomination Day and during campaigning

The labour movement is backing Madam Halimah Yacob's bid for the highest office of the land in more ways than one.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) president Mary Liew will be one of the assentors on Madam Halimah's nomination form.

On Nomination Day and during campaigning, unions affiliated to the NTUC are expected to mobilise their members as a show of support at the Nomination Centre and during rallies.

Ms Liew said that Madam Halimah "is no stranger to us".

"For 33 years, she walked the (union) ground with us," she said at the NTUC National Day Observance Ceremony yesterday.

Madam Halimah started work as a legal officer at the NTUC in 1978 and rose to become its assistant secretary-general from 1999 to 2007 and its deputy secretary-general from 2007 to 2011.

She also held several appointments at unions, including the post of executive secretary at the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries (UWEEI) from 2004 to 2011.

In 2011, she stepped down from the union posts when she was appointed minister of state, but she remained adviser to the 60,000- strong UWEEI.

Madam Halimah joined some 2,000 union leaders, employers and government officials at the NTUC National Day Observance Ceremony held at Our Tampines Hub yesterday.

It was her first appearance at a union event after she announced her intention to contest in the upcoming presidential election.

Labour chief Chan Chun Sing told reporters that Madam Halimah has always been "a champion of the workers".

"She has served (the public) for many years. She has stood for workers in her many capacities," said Mr Chan, the NTUC secretary-general.

When asked if the NTUC will help her in campaigning, Mr Chan said: "Many people will be ready to help in whatever ways that they can."

In the past, unions have backed presidents with strong union links. They include late former presidents Ong Teng Cheong and S R Nathan.

On whether the unions will do likewise for Madam Halimah, Mr Chan replied: "I think so... (It is) no different from the past."

Ms Liew said that she "has been approached" to be one of Madam Halimah's assentors in her nomination form. "We will be with her, we will support her and see her through all the way," she said.

Mr Yeo Chun Fing, general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees, said that Madam Halimah has given the public sector union invaluable legal advice on pension matters.

"She is friendly and approachable, always willing to make time for us," he said, adding: "If we are called to show support, I am sure we will do so."

Meanwhile, in interviews with Lianhe Zaobao and Berita Harian published yesterday, Madam Halimah dealt with questions on her candidacy in the coming election reserved for Malay candidates.

Responding to a question from Lianhe Zaobao, she said that she has been wearing a tudung since she entered politics and it has not stopped her from representing people of all races as a politician.

She also said in the interview with Berita Harian that support from different segments of society encouraged her to stand in the presidential election.

"My service was needed, so I offered myself up," she said.

As to whether she qualifies as a Malay candidate - her late father was Indian - she pointed to her track record of helping the Malay community, adding that no one has ever told her that they did not see her as Malay.

"It cannot be denied that at least half the blood running through my body is Malay blood," she told Berita Harian.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2017, with the headline 'NTUC backs Halimah's bid for presidency'. Print Edition | Subscribe