This year’s highest May Day award has been bestowed on Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Coordinating Minister for Economic & Social Polices Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
The awards were presented to DPM Tharman at a ceremony held on 13 May 2017 at the Orchid Country Club. NTUC President Mary Liew noted that in previous years, the May Day awards were presented during the May Day Dinner.
"For 2017, the awards event has taken on a refreshed format that showcases the inclusiveness of the growing labour movement network," Ms Liew said.
“This new format is to symbolise our labour movement’s commitment to continue to be representative of our working people and be relevant to their diverse and changing needs. While we will never forget our roots and continue to serve our working people through our affiliated unions and associations, the movement has been hard at work growing our network to be more representative in tandem with our changing workforce demographics,” Ms Liew stated.
DPM Tharman has led the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute (OTCi) as its Chairman of Board of Governors since 2002. OTCi has expanded to what is now regarded as a thought leader among various stakeholders of the Labour Movement, NTUC informed.
NTUC emphasised that DPM Tharman has been a 'firm advocate of lifelong learning and committed to building an inclusive society' in its citation.
NTUC said, "He has always taken a keen interest in ensuring that workers benefit from economic transformation and has worked hard to advance tripartism in the key councils he chaired. These include the SkillsFuture Council, National Productivity Council and subsequently, the Council for Skills, Innovation and Productivity."
“DPM Tharman is an unassuming and approachable leader among unionists, one who makes a genuine effort to engage with, understand and address unionists’ and workers’ aspirations and concerns,” added NTUC.
However many Straits Times Facebook reader does not agree with NTUC regarding the reasons for the confered award, as shown by their comments quoted below.
Alex Lim wrote, "Surprise surprise I thought DPM Tharman is no union man - what he has done to NTUC to deserve this highest May Day honour?"
Robert Tan wrote, "He is paid mil$ salary and bonuses to do the job and not as a volunteer. The value of this is less than his mil$ income. Don't see anything great."
Patrick Yuin wrote, "What nonsense is this? No company in the world present an award to their boss. NTUC is my first encounter."
Jeffrey Ng wrote, "Ownself award ownself."
Terry Lim wrote, "Ownself glorify ownself. Come i clap for you."
Some readers even linked the news with the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), the free trade agreement between Singapore and India which has, among other disadvantages for Singapore, a loophole to move large number of Indian IT workers into Singapore since CECA does not set any quotas:
Lai Voon Choong wrote, "I wonder what is Tharman's view about the CECA treaty with India, what had he done to stop or encourage India nationals to come and seek jobs away from Singaporeans in 127 professionals across fields in banking, IT, biotechnology sectors, resulting in so many middle aged Singaporeans PMETs losing their jobs and have to join Uber or Grabs as drivers now.
Chee Gem Chng wrote, "Encourage the Indian CECA to steal our outright lunch boxes. Doctor and IT professionals came with fleak certificates and he himself did not perform. His obligations to serve NS liabilities@@ and now get highest NTUC Awards. A laughing stocks for life time ever."