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29 Dec 2023
5 mins
General Secretary Message 2024

SMOU Powers Up with Bold, Strategic Moves to Navigate a New Era

The SMOU leadership has given a strong mandate for the Union to make bold moves on multiple fronts to forge an exciting future ahead.

Not one to shy away from making tough decisions, SMOU General Secretary Mary Liew told SeaVoices that SMOU is making strategic decisions to pivot the Union for growth and resiliency.

“It is going to be an exciting season. We will celebrate our 75th Anniversary in 2026 with renewed strength and purpose,” said Sister Mary.

“Our interconnected world is undergoing radical changes at an accelerating speed. It is our responsibility to our members to innovate and deal with issues to stay relevant, dynamic and resilient. To navigate a new era, we need to take courageous, decisive and strategic steps to power up SMOU for the future.”

At the recent General Council meeting, SMOU leaders unanimously expressed their support for making Purposeful Investments in People, Properties, Productivity, Promoting the Singapore Core, and Preparing a Future-Ready Wavelink Simulation Centre.


Inclusive and Diverse Leadership

The strong support for a structured leadership renewal which started last year saw a decidedly tangible outcome in both the General Council and Executive Committee (ExCo) election this year. 40% of the leaders in the ExCo now are below 45 years old. SMOU now has younger ones holding key leadership positions such as Vice-President and Assistant General Secretary.

To unleash the collective experience of the senior leaders and the dynamism of the younger ones, SMOU amended its Constitution to ensure that younger leaders will have a place to serve and lead the Union.

“We will have the best of both worlds. Having an inclusive and diverse leadership encourages creativity, innovation, and a wider range of viewpoints to meet the common goal of doing good for our members and beyond. We are building a steady stream of quality, committed leaders because SMOU is here to stay,” Sister Mary said.

One of the priorities for the next chapter of SMOU growth is to groom the next generation of leaders.

“We will continue to develop our leadership like Brother Gwee, who is now in the NTUC Central Committee and Brother Dominic who is in the NTUC and the ITF’s Youth Committee. There are other young leaders in our midst, and we will continue to provide them with opportunities to grow and succeed.”


Strengthening Financials

When SMOU celebrates its 75th Anniversary in three years’ time, the Union’s brand-new home will likely be up and ready.

SMOU has acquired a row of six shophouses, paving the way for the construction of a new 6-storey building. The approval by the SMOU General Council extends beyond the property purchase, encompassing support for the increased capacity through expansion.

The upcoming structure will consolidate and house SMOU and all Wavelink businesses, including the Wavelink Maritime Institute and Lighthouse Bistro together within a single facility to better serve our members.

“We are all very excited to build a new home where all of us are under one roof. We look forward to a green and sustainable building and more,” Sister Mary shared excitedly.

“The collective wisdom of our far-sighted GC led us to say yes to making investments in properties and other financial instruments that will help grow and strengthen the financials of the Union. To continue to be good stewards and to do good work, we need to have deep resources that we can tap into.”


Enhancing IT infrastructure and Capacity

Innovation, digitalisation, and technological progress have fundamentally transformed the way we live, work and play and reshaped members requirements. In the coming years, critical changes will be made to upgrade the union’s IT infrastructure including enhancing application features for a more efficient SMOU app experience.

Enhancing the systems ensures users can experience a smooth interface, and it enables staff to sustain productivity.

Promoting the Singapore Core

For many years now, SMOU has been hammering away the critical message of building the Singapore Core.

“The Wavelink Maritime Institute has trained more than 400 through our Tripartite Nautical Training Award (TNTA) and Tripartite Engineering Training Award (TETA) program. We have minted more than 100 qualified officers,” Sister Mary pointed out.

“We have made a bold decision to return to training cadets so that Singaporeans can have a second or third chance of carving out a promising maritime career at sea or ashore. We are putting money where the mouth is and continue to provide funding for the TNTA and TETA or similar programmes. We are going to stay tenacious in building the Singapore Core.”

Producing a Future Ready Wavelink Simulation Centre

Sister Mary also highlighted an exciting development – Wavelink Maritime Simulation Centre (WMSC), set up in 2014, will be upgraded with a slew of sophisticated simulation facilities, new training initiatives, and career guidance and mentorship programmes so that seafarers will be ready for the future.

With the evolution of new legislation and requirements, seafarers need to constantly reskill and upskill, particularly in areas of decarbonisation and alternative fuels.

“We need to do our part in ensuring that there is a just transition for our seafarers and that no seafarer is left behind in the waves of changes,” Sister Mary remarked.

SMOU is where we are today because we are clear about our mission and we have the unwavering trust and support of our courageous and wise leaders, members and tripartite partners.” This is not a time for incremental and superficial changes. The time is now to make bold, fundamental moves critical for the future of SMOU and our members and Singapore as the International Maritime Centre. There is much to be done and we at SMOU are ready.”