Just as the flowers never stop blooming in the Gardens by the Bay, SMOU never stop caring come what may.
This year’s SMOU Annual Family Day, the first in-person mega event after two years, bloomed into an unforgettable experience on 28 May 2022 for more than 2500 SMOU members and families.
The crowd started to thicken way before the event kicked off at 10.30am and many were seen eagerly fist bumping each other and catching up like the good old days.
The families had a field day soaking in the excitement the event generated. The lucky draw created an air of anticipation and the blazing sun did not stop them from enjoying the mass workout, stage games and more.
“SMOU’s 70th anniversary did not end in 2021. The celebration continues in 2022,” said SMOU General Secretary Mary Liew to loud applause. Up next on the calendar highlights are the SMOU Mega Trip and the Gala Dinner.
In her welcome speech, Sister Mary also turned the attention to the important role seafarers play during the COVID-19 pandemic by “working so hard to keep the supply chain going” the last two years.
“Seafarers have gone through difficult times. Many worked beyond the contract and went without seeing their loved ones for as long as a year or more. You deserve our wholehearted applause,” she added.
Guest-of-honour Mr Eric Chua, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC and SMOU Advisor in his speech underscored the importance of families as the strong pillar of support for Singaporeans.
He pointed out that this year is particularly special for families with the Ministry of Social and Family Development dedicating 2022 as the Year of Celebrating SG Families. Brother Eric commended the union for honouring and strengthening families through bonding events such as the SMOU Family Day.
After the rousing flag off by Brother Eric and Sister Mary, cheered on by SMOU President Brother Rahim Jaffar, Emeritus General Secretary Brother Thomas Tay, Treasurer Brother Yong Soon Huat, and the SMOU Exco, the participants made their way to enjoy the iconic Cloud Forest, Flower Dome, treasure hunt, family photo hunt and more.
SMOU Annual Family Day is back in full force, in-person and in full fledge fun and intensity.
SMOU Family Shares In-Person
Seventy-one year old Tan Siak Ling has been a SMOU member for 30 years.
“It has been a long time since we could gather as a big family. It is so refreshing to meet face-to-face.”
His daughter Jingle Chen, co-founder of The Mask Fellows, eagerly chimed in highlighting that she has been a beneficiary of SMOU’s generosity. “I remember receiving SMOU bursary since primary 5 to secondary school. Not only that, I have been attending SMOU Family Day since I was a kid,” the mother of 10-year old twin daughters said.
“Family is very important especially to seafarers who cannot sail without family support. By organising such events, the Union leadership is also creating a legend and passing to the next generation to helm. What SMOU is doing is to plant a seed so that it can grow into a tree.”
SMOU member Harsono’s daughter, Ayu, also fondly recalled attending SMOU Family Day as a child. “Since young, I always look forward to attending the Family Day,” the mother of three said. Though Harsono is unable to attend the event due to work, his daughter turned up with her husband, three young children and her mother.
Also celebrating family ties is SMOU member Muskesh Kumar Singh who was spotted cheering loudly with his wife and 8-year old daughter after winning $200 voucher in the lucky draw.
“We are so happy to meet all the people and especially elated to win one of the lucky draw prizes. It is so worth it standing under the hot sun for this,” remarked his delighted wife.
The family is from India and is seen here in the photo with two other families, SMOU member Ranjay Singh and family; and the wife and family members of SMOU member Abhishek Shekhar who is at sea. “I miss my husband. But I am glad that my sister flew in from India yesterday to make it for this Family Day,” she said.
Burmese Win Htut Thein is full of praise of how well the Family Day was organised. “I enjoy seeing my friends and being at the Gardens by the Bay with my wife and two daughters. Every Family Day we attended is always very well done.”
Zhong Bing Hong and his sister-in-law Wan Fei Fei are both SMOU members of 15 years and 19 years respectively. He said “I became a member when sailing as a cadet onboard a Singapore flagged ship.”
For him, the favourite part of the event is the lucky draw. Though he did not win any prizes this year, Bing Hong recalled excitedly that he won the first prize last year when the SMOU Annual Family Day was held virtually over Zoom.
“Thank you, SMOU, for forging family ties and doing such a good job in taking care of the seafarers who have been through a very challenging time with the COVID-19 pandemic. What a great effort by the Union and I wish SMOU a happy 70th Anniversary.”