Union event caps busy time for Halimah

Speaker Halimah Yacob receiving a memento from Mr Tan Richard, general secretary of the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries. With them are (from left) UWEEI executive council member Zahra Hadir, second assistant general secretary
Speaker Halimah Yacob receiving a memento from Mr Tan Richard, general secretary of the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries. With them are (from left) UWEEI executive council member Zahra Hadir, second assistant general secretary David Phang and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Speaker mulling over presidency bid has met unionists, community leaders in past weeks

The United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries dinner and dance last night was a homecoming of sorts for Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob.

She was its executive secretary from 2004 to 2011, and is now adviser to the 60,000-strong union.

The dinner and dance capped a busy period for Madam Halimah, who said, when asked by reporters three weeks ago, that she was considering whether to run in next month's presidential election.

She said last Saturday that she was still mulling over it.

In the past few weeks, the MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC has been meeting unionists, community leaders and residents, typically at the rate of at least one event a day.

She has also been giving speeches on the need to upgrade workers' skills and uphold racial and religious harmony at events, several of which were dialogues.

Earlier this week, she met Chinese community leaders at the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations and discussed foreign policy and economic challenges.

 

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(Technological) disruptions are part and parcel of the sector. We can embrace lifelong learning, seize new opportunities to find good jobs and improve our livelihoods.

SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT HALIMAH YACOB, in a speech at the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries' dinner and dance last night. She is adviser to the 60,000-strong union.

This came a day after she met leaders of Muslim welfare organisation Muhammadiyah at a dialogue, along with several of her fellow Malay-Muslim MPs.

In the past fortnight, Madam Halimah also joined a post-Hari Raya celebration at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore's Harmony Centre, and met community leaders on the Malay Activity Executive Committees Council of the People's Association.

She also attended a cultural night in Eunos celebrating the food and practices of Singapore's races, and visited a visual arts exhibition held by the three Canossian schools.

The veteran unionist also met fellow unionists from different industries, ranging from petroleum and steel to education services. In addition, she met Chinese teachers and a group of in-house counsels.

At these events, a number of which she posted and featured on Facebook, several people assumed that she had already made up her mind. They referred to her possible bid with veiled comments on whether they would see her in a different capacity "after September".

Some even declared outright that she would have their support should she run for the presidency.

To all of these, Madam Halimah had one response: A quiet smile.

Last night, in her speech to 600 unionists and company officials at the dinner, she spoke of the importance of workers, companies and the Government working together.

"(Technological) disruptions are part and parcel of the sector. We can embrace lifelong learning, seize new opportunities to find good jobs and improve our livelihoods," she said.

The dinner marked the start of a campaign to help workers in the electronics, precision and machinery engineering sector upgrade their skills and stay employable.

The month-long campaign includes a career fair, courses in areas such as digital literacy and robotics, and dialogues between companies and public agencies.

It will reach about 1,000 professionals, managers, executives and technicians and companies in the manufacturing sector, which is transforming to keep up with automation trends in factories.

The union's executive secretary Melvin Yong, who is an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, told reporters that the take-up rate of upgrading has been slow, as companies are worried about the cost of investing in more smart technology while workers are unconvinced about the benefits of training.

The union is one of the affiliated unions under the National Trades Union Congress' (NTUC) electronics, precision and machinery engineering cluster.

Last night, the cluster signed a memorandum of understanding to work with NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and companies to upgrade manufacturing workers' skills.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2017, with the headline 'Union event caps busy time for Halimah'. Print Edition | Subscribe