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14 Jun 2023
5 mins
May Day Awards 2023

SMOU Congratulates DPM Lawrence Wong (Medal of Honour), SMOU Advisor Brother Gan Thiam Poh (Meritorious Service) and Treasurer, Brother Yong Soon Huat (Comrade of Labour)

Shouts of joy and acclamation filled the entire hall of Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre on 22 May 2023.

Among those who cheered and shouted bravo were SMOU leaders who heartedly congratulated Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong for receiving the Medal of Honour, the top accolade at this year’s May Day Awards; SMOU Advisor Brother Gan Thiam Poh (Meritorious Service) and SMOU Treasurer Brother Yong Soon Huat (Comrade of Labour).

This year, 128 distinguished and deserving individuals – including union leaders, workers, management partners and government representatives; and 44 organisations, were honoured.

The awardees received their awards from NTUC Secretary-General Brother Ng Chee Meng, for their exceptional and continuous contributions to the Labour Movement, in support of its programmes and initiatives that have helped workers in their employability, employment and welfare.

Model workers were recognised for showing readiness and resilience in the face of transformation, by initiating productivity improvements; improving their employability through up-skilling; and being adaptable to changing work environment.

In her welcome address, NTUC President and SMOU General Secretary Sister Mary Liew paid tribute to all award recipients on how they have supported and pushed for the betterment of the 3Ws – “Wages, Welfare and Work Prospects” for our workers.

She paid tribute to DPM Brother Lawrence Wong for his contributions and support to workers and tripartism throughout his years of public service.

Sister Mary said of him, “I was touched when Brother Lawrence gave us the assurance that he will always be behind our Labour Movement and he will always have our back. He has done so much, especially during the COVID-19 period.

SMOU Treasurer Mr Yong Soon Huat with SMOU Immediate Past President Capt Robin Foo, SMOU Executive Committee members Mr Ismail Ahmad, Capt Sofwan Marzuki and Mr Tan Geh Ting, together with DPM Lawrence Wong, NTUC President Ms Mary Liew and NTUC Secretary-General Mr Ng Chee Meng

“He walked the journey with all of us. And he had steered us through all the uncharted waters, was with us, and brought us to where we can be today. Thank you so much Brother Lawrence. Thank you so much for being with us and supporting the Labour Movement. We really appreciate it.” 

SMOU Nominated May Day Award Recipients

Advisor Gan Thiam Poh and Treasurer Yong Soon Huat

Member of Parliament Brother Gan Thiam Poh has been SMOU’s Advisor since 2012 and continues to advocate for seafaring officers. In his capacity as Advisor to SMOU, Brother Thiam Poh, during the Budget 2023 debate, spoke up for seafarers, particularly those under the Special Limits category, urging the government to build a strong Singapore Core in the maritime sector and proposed an uplifting of wages to retain seafarers and provide a holistic career in the maritime industry.

Brother Thiam Poh also spoke on the Sail Milestone Achievement Programme or SailMAP as an excellent initiative to encourage Singaporeans to pursue a sea-going career.

Brother Thiam Poh also raises issues in Parliament on behalf of the unions and Labour Movement. These issues include NTUC’s push to expand the Progressive Wage Model to other sectors, a workplace fairness legislation to ensure women are not discriminated against, flexible working arrangements, the Retirement and Re-employment Act, and the CPF Amendment Bill.

Brother Yong Soon Huat spent the last 31 years as a union leader. Brother Soon Huat has effectively engaged members on their welfare, employment and training needs.

As SMOU’s treasurer, he has steadfastly upheld the union’s financial status to provide for members’ welfare effectively.

As a unionist, he has always supported members’ concerns about their employment security and welfare interests.

He constantly encourages members to upgrade and resell themselves to remain relevant while urging them to sign up as members to improve their welfare at work.

On receiving his Comrade of Labour award, Brother Soon Huat beamed as he said, “This is a big milestone for me in the Labour Movement. Very happy that I have this opportunity. This is an encouragement to me and other unionists as well, that if you put in the necessary hard work and your heart is really about fellow workers, definitely it will be worth it.”

Brother Soon Huat shared what brings him most pride: “Besides caring for our members, I am also glad to say that SMOU is doing something even more. Take for example in certain ships, there were situations where workers were not paid their wages due to the companys financial issues. The union did not just fight for our union members, but also fought for the non-members to make sure that all crew are adequately compensated. Such incidents may not be seen or heard of publicly and thankfully its happening only every now and then. But, these situations warm my heart when the union shows care to all seafarers. This is what I am proud of.”

He deserves it! Happy to see him being awarded this year.”

– Tan Geh Ting, SMOU Assistant Treasurer

Yong is easygoing yet strict on matters such as financial governance. He has done alot for SMOU. I commend his efforts to bring up the union to the next level. Congrats. All the best. Looking forward to many more years of serving together in SMOU.”

– Ismail Ahmad, SMOU ExCo