Labour Movement leaders honoured with National Day Awards 2023

Get to know the awardees who have been conferred the prestigious awards, including NTUC President Mary Liew.
By Kay del Rosario 09 Aug 2023
Every year, the National Day Awards recognises exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions to Singapore.


This year, National Day honours were given to a total of 6,598 outstanding men and women in 19 award categories.


The Prime Minister's Office announced the awardees on National Day, 9 August 2023.


Among them were five leaders from the Labour Movement who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of workers and the advancement of the nation.


These remarkable individuals were chosen for their unwavering commitment and inspirational leadership in driving positive change in the workforce.




Recipient of The Public Service Star


Mary Liew: Fostering a stronger Labour Movement




Mary Liew, NTUC President since 2015, has been a driving force in uniting unions and leaders for tripartite initiatives, fortifying industrial harmony in Singapore.


Under her leadership, NTUC achieved significant milestones, expanding the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) to benefit over 230,000 workers across new sectors.


Ms Liew’s advocacy also led to greater protection of freelancers and self-employed workers, while her efforts in the NTUC-SNEF PME Task Force enhanced fairness and career progression for Professional, Managers, and Executives (PMEs).


Ms Liew’s impact extends globally, as she has championed worker rights on international platforms like the International Labour Organization (ILO).


As Deputy Member of the Workers’ Group in the ILO Governing Board, she raised awareness of the Singapore Labour Movement’s initiatives and unique tripartite system in addressing challenges faced by workers.


Her enduring commitment is reflected in her leadership, fostering a stronger, more equitable labour landscape for all.


“Inspired by my mentor and union leaders, I aspire to touch as many lives as possible, and pass the torch to others to continue the remarkable work of the Labour Movement, where Every Worker Matters.


“I believe in servant leadership and let us continue to impact the lives of our workers, their families, and the community,” she said.



Recipients of The Public Service Medal


Thuvinder Singh: Cultivating collective strength for a brighter tomorrow




NTUC Central Committee member Thuvinder Singh, a passionate and long-serving unionist, has been recognised for his relentless commitment to empowering workers.


As General Secretary of the Union of Telecoms Employees of Singapore (UTES), Mr Singh’s dedication is firmly grounded in the belief that every individual’s potential must be nurtured, and the desire to help must stem from within.


Serving as a union leader since 2005, he has witnessed the transformative power of collective efforts in strengthening communities and uplifting workers.


Reflecting on his journey, Mr Singh said: “Through what I do, I hope to inspire a ripple effect, which this meaningful cause can bring about.


“I hope to inspire and showcase a direction for more hands to join together and collectively shape a brighter tomorrow for everyone.”



Atyyah Hassan: Championing workers’ unwavering commitment




Atyyah Hassan, General Secretary of the Keppel FELS Employees’ Union, stands out for her dedication to workers’ rights, welfare, and safety.


Having served in the union for more than 40 years, her driving force is the faith workers place in her during both triumphs and challenges.


“I hope to inspire others by staying true to my values and consistently working towards positive change,” she said. 


Atyyah’s leadership has been instrumental in securing better working conditions, improved benefits, and enhanced well-being for union members.



Nicholas Tan: Guiding workers towards a happier workforce




Nicholas Tan, President of the Amalgamated Union of Statutory Board Employees (AUSBE), has been recognised for his exceptional leadership in advocating for workers’ welfare and rights.


He believes in the profound impact of supporting individuals within the workforce.


He said: “There will always be someone who needs guidance and help, be it financially or in industrial relation matters.”


Under Mr Tan’s leadership, AUSBE achieved remarkable milestones as he actively pushed for strong union membership growth through various initiatives. This led to the union’s membership surpassing the 10,000 mark.



Irene Low: A guiding force in workers’ advocacy and progress




Irene Low, Director of Industrial Relations and Analysis at NTUC, is celebrated for her exceptional contributions to labour-management relations and driving productivity enhancements.


Her pivotal role in the Lean Enterprise Development Taskforce led to the implementation of the LED Scheme, benefiting over 2,100 companies.


A fervent advocate for training and reskilling, Ms Low spearheaded industry resilience programmes during COVID-19 recovery, notably through the TTAB Career Conversation Programme.


Her unwavering dedication extends to championing workers’ interests in emerging tech sectors, advocating for improved wages, welfare, and work prospects.


Reflecting on her journey, Ms Low said: “This award is for all the amazing people in the Labour Movement.


“I strongly believe that no matter where we are in life, we all possess the power to make a difference and be that catalyst for positive change because every worker matters.”



Leaders nominated by tripartite partners


Bobby Chin received The Distinguished Service Order as the former Housing and Development Board (HDB) Chairperson. Mr Chin was also the former NTUC FairPrice Chairman, former NTUC Enterprise Deputy Chairman and a former Singapore Labour Foundation Board Director.


Two other union leaders received The Commendation Medal in recognition for their good work.


Surianah Sufarman, who is General Treasurer of the Amalgamated Union of Statutory Board Employees (AUSBE), was nominated by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE).


She works as Team Lead at the Singapore Food Agency.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education (MOE) nominated Tan Eng Whee, who works at the Science Centre Board.


Mr Tan is Executive Council Member of the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE).


The full list of the 2023 National Day Award recipients is available at the Prime Minister's Office website.