Model ID: 3de946f6-e4ac-496a-b026-f2e86a7f98c2 Sitecore Context Id: 3de946f6-e4ac-496a-b026-f2e86a7f98c2;

National Day Observance Ceremony 2023 Speech by NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng

Model ID: 3de946f6-e4ac-496a-b026-f2e86a7f98c2 Sitecore Context Id: 3de946f6-e4ac-496a-b026-f2e86a7f98c2;
08 Aug 2023
Thumbnail-SG NDOC 2023.JPG
Model ID: 3de946f6-e4ac-496a-b026-f2e86a7f98c2 Sitecore Context Id: 3de946f6-e4ac-496a-b026-f2e86a7f98c2;

Sisters and Brothers, Happy National Day!


In the spirit of democracy, let me just ask you a simple question: would you like me to read my (entire) speech or do you want me to keep it short and sharp? I hear mostly “short and sharp” but one of my staff says she wants the full speech.


It is always a challenge to be the third speaker and the last speaker. And worse, to speak after Mr Tharman whose eloquence surpasses all of us. I will just keep it very short with three key things.


Appreciating Everyone


First of all, to all our (NTUC) Administrative and Research Unit (ARU) staff and your family: thank you for your commitment and dedication – not only to the Labour Movement but to your work for our country, our nation. Likewise to all our union leaders, and our partners: thank you for standing up for workers, and championing our workers’ interests.


In the earlier speeches, we heard about all the things that have been done in the last two years. All these achievements by the Labour Movement are upon your shoulders and your hard work!


If you look at the low-wage workers, NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Cham Hui Fong and the NTUC Workgroup (Group) have championed relentlessly to raise wages. The Progressive Wages initiatives is now reaching out to almost 250,000 workers, uplifting Singaporeans. This is why we celebrate National Day – when Singapore succeeds, every worker shares the success. Every worker matters.


For the freelancers, we have probably the first (in the world) to champion their interests, whether for longer term Central Provident Fund, or workplace injury; and we are now going to be representing them for longer term welfare and interests.


The youth and the PMEs (professionals, managers and executives) whom we have been under-serving them – we will come into this space and innovate so that we can partner with them and be alongside them.


None of the above can be done without all of you, including my staff in NTUC-ARU. Whether you are in the NTUC Headquarters Group, under Deputy Secretary-General Heng Chee How, where you provide the resources, manpower, policies and guidance; to the NTUC Workforce Group, led by Deputy Secretary-General Cham Hui Fong, doing all the ground work such as settling issues with our employment partners and Government – we could not have done it without you. And under the Work Prospects space, under then Deputy Secretary-General Koh Poh Koon and Chee Hong Tat in the past to Desmond Tan now, we are forging new possibilities to keep up with the changing times, the challenging times that Mr Tharman was talking about, so that every worker can thrive.


My heartfelt thank you to all of you. I don’t see you every day but I’m so proud to see the sea of red and white gathered today – coming together to celebrate our National Day. Thank you for your dedication! Thank you for your commitment to serve the Labour Movement but importantly, to play our part in nation building where we now celebrate National Day. Well done to all of you!


Special Guest – Mr Tharman


 I, too, have a “Tharman-moment”. I vividly recall in a national meeting quite late into the night, I was pushing for the Progressive Wage Model to be extended to more industries and more workers. But, of course, we know there will be economic impact. There will be a balancing of pros and cons. Being the only one from NTUC, pushing for our workers’ interests, I felt alone until Mr Tharman, towards the end, came in and said something very simple, “I support the NTUC”. In his quiet, assuring manner, he said, “It may well be a balancing between the economics of our investors coming to Singapore and NTUC standing for our workers, but we need to do what NTUC says”, and he gave his full support. And that was my “Tharman-moment” – I felt supported. And I’ve never forgotten that moment. I’ll never forget that when he was the Senior Minister and coordinating Minister for social policies, he stood alongside our workers.


My “Tharman-moment” – I hope we can share this in future, when he is successful in his new endeavour, not just for my generation but for all the children in front of us. May we all come together with the unity of purpose to progress onward as one.


Onward as One Singapore


I encourage you, as we celebrate National Day tomorrow, when you are down in the trenches working hard – do remember our Labour Movement’s purpose: to better the lives of Singaporeans and the livelihoods of our fellow countrymen.


May we forge ahead with compassion as well, whereby we will uplift every worker in our journey. And very importantly, as we celebrate National Day tomorrow, let’s progress in unity regardless of race, language or religion. Because every worker matters, because every Singaporean matters.


Let us celebrate National Day today with gusto and pride. And as we cast our vision forward, let us move forward with purpose, compassion and humility!


Happy National Day!