NTUC to get new assistant secretaries-general

Mr Desmond Choo, 40, is an MP for Tampines GRC.
Mr Desmond Choo, 40, is an MP for Tampines GRC.
Mr Melvin Yong, 46, is an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC.
Mr Melvin Yong, 46, is an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC.

Melvin Yong, Desmond Choo's promotions seen as part of long-term succession planning

Two labour MPs will be promoted on April 1 to take on bigger roles in the labour movement, in a move to strengthen its core leadership.

Mr Melvin Yong, 46, and Mr Desmond Choo, 40, will become assistant secretaries-general and help implement the decisions of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) central committee, the organisation's highest decision-making body.

Labour chief Chan Chun Sing, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said yesterdaythe new appointments are also to recognise their contributions to the labour movement.

Union leaders interviewed saw the move as part of NTUC's long-term leadership succession planning.

Said Mr Tan Richard, general secretary of the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries and a central committee member: "Once you identify capable leaders, you should bring them up to higher roles."

The two men's promotions, which have been endorsed by the NTUC's central committee, will bring the total number of assistant secretaries-general to five. The others are former Nominated MP Cham Hui Fong and People's Action Party MPs Patrick Tay and Zainal Sapari.

Along with deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How, they will help Mr Chan, the secretary-general, implement the central committee's decisions.

Labour chief Chan Chun Sing, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said yesterday the new appointments are also to recognise their contributions to the labour movement.

Mr Yong is a PAP MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, while Mr Choo is a PAP MP for Tampines GRC and Mayor of the North East District.

They are taking the place of MP Ang Hin Kee and former MP Yeo Guat Kwang, both of whom have gone on to a separate leadership track. This track, started in 2016, has four assistant directors-general who are tasked to help new groups of working people.

Mr Yong, who joined NTUC in 2015, said in a statement that he wants to strengthen the NTUC's relationship with partners such as employers and the Government.

"There is still a lot of work we need to do to help our workers, given the ever-changing economic landscape and technological disruptions to businesses and jobs," he added.

He is director for tripartism in NTUC's industrial relations department and director of the workplace safety and health secretariat.

He is also executive secretary of the National Transport Workers' Union and United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries.

Mr Choo joined NTUC in 2010, left for the private sector in 2013, and returned in 2015.

He is director of NTUC's Youth Development Unit, and director of industry transformation and productivity.

He said he wants to help workers cope with restructuring and make the most of new job opportunities highlighted in the Industry Transformation Maps.

He is also executive secretary of the Union of Telecoms Employees of Singapore and Young NTUC.

Healthcare Services Employees' Union president K. Thanaletchimi, a central committee member, said the duo have done well in their portfolios.

Mr Choo leads young workers who are "going to hold the fort in the future", she added. Mr Yong, meanwhile, has lifted the morale and voiced the concerns of workers in the transport industry, which faces a lot of challenges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2018, with the headline 'NTUC to get new assistant secretaries-general'. Print Edition | Subscribe