SMOU held a General Council (GC) meeting on 16 July 2022 to network with GC members, provide updates on Union activities during the pandemic, and to approve plans and budget for the future of SMOU.
Some 50 SMOU GC members gathered at the SKAI Suite, Swissotel The Stamford – the first time since the last Quadrennial General Council Meeting in 2018. The attendees streamed in bright and early, and many were delighted to greet fellow GC members whom they might not have seen in the past 2 odd years due to the pandemic.
The meeting opened up with an informative video with General Secretary Ms Mary Liew presenting the work that SMOU has embarked on, especially during the pandemic. Ms Mary Liew, through the video, also drew the attention of members to the SMOU 70th Anniversary series of celebratory events which was extended to 2022, and the activities that laid ahead until the main event in October – the Gala Dinner.
The video ended with Ms Mary Liew casting the eyes of members into the future of SMOU, and the union responding to three rising needs – the ageing demographic of membership; building of the Singapore core; and innovating and strengthening the union from within. “The legacy and future of SMOU are in your hands. Let us stand shoulder to shoulder and collaborate to impact the lives of our members, seafarers, the maritime industry, and beyond,” said Ms Mary Liew as she rallied council members to have a fruitful and constructive discussion ahead.
Since 2018, the maritime industry and the demographics of the SMOU membership have shifted. To keep up with these shifts, SMOU presented four resolutions to the General Council.
The first was the approval of support to the Sail Milestone Achievement Programme (SailMAP), which was launched by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in partnership with tripartite partners to support the Singapore Core by providing monetary incentives to seafarers that attain their certification milestones.
Secondly, with the easing of safe management measures in Singapore, the 70th Anniversary Gala dinner happening on 22 October 2022 will be able to accommodate more SMOU members and guests at the celebration. A budget increase was put up for approval by the council to accommodate the expansion in capacity.
With the closing of the Seafarers Provident Fund (SPF) in 2012, and the administration of fund withdrawal by SPF members in the past 10 years, the SPF came to its final cessation on 31 December 2021. With the principle of continued support for seafarers’ welfare, SMOU will be channeling the remaining unclaimed funds towards the SMOU Welfare & Training Endowment Fund. To this, the third resolution saw SMOU requesting for the council’s approval to redirect the remaining funds from the SPF so that seafarers can still benefit from this.
Finally, with the ageing demographic of the SMOU members, leadership renewal and exposure of younger members are necessary for the future of SMOU beyond it’s 70-year mark. The fourth resolution requested approval of the council for amendments to be made to the SMOU constitution. These changes include streamlining of categories to better reflect the current maritime certification system in Singapore; enshrining leadership renewal within the constitution by ensuring younger members take up leadership positions; ensuring sustainability of the union through our ordinary membership; and strengthening corporate governance of the union.
Each resolution was followed by a question and answer segment facilitated by meeting Chairman, SMOU President Mr Rahim Jaffar, General Secretary Ms Mary Liew, and Treasurer Mr Yong Soon Huat.
Wrapping up the meeting, the council participated in voting for the four resolutions. The outcome was a positive one, with all four resolutions carried by the council. As SMOU emerges stronger from the pandemic, it positions itself to run the long race into the decades beyond.
The resolutions made that day are just one of the small steps to ensure the longevity of the union to continue in its purpose to represent seafarers, impact the lives of its members, maritime community, and beyond.