Union's Stand: Choose Us or Opposition Politics

Posted by Jose Raymond under News on 7 November 2002

Mr Muhammad Ali Aman's political career seemed to be taking off in a big way. In August, he was appointed secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), the opposition umbrella body. In October, he was given a similar post at the Singapore Malay National Organisation (PKMS) - which is part of the SDA. But now Mr Ali, 35, has learnt that if he wants to fly high as an opposition politician, he must sacrifice his role as the leader of a union affiliated to the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). Reason: the NTUC enjoys a symbiotic relationship with the ruling People's Action Party.

In other words, Mr Ali, a 35-year-old businessman who runs his own information-technology company, will have to step down as the chairman of a branch of the United Workers of Electronic & Electrical Industries (UWEEI) union - a post he has held since 1999.

UWEEI represents workers in the manufacturing industry.

The deputy executive secretary of UWEEI, Mr Ong Keau, told this newspaper: "UWEEI is an affiliate of the NTUC family and we subscribe to and support the symbiotic relationship between the NTUC and the PAP.

"Our commitment is open and is made known to all our officials."

He cited similar relationships between unions and political parties in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Germany.

He added: "When it came to our knowledge that Mr Muhammad Ali is an office bearer of the PKMS and the SDA, the union asked him to decide honourably between his role as a UWEEI official, an affiliate of the NTUC which subscribes to its relationship with the PAP, and his role at the PKMS and the SDA."

But Mr Ali felt that his position at the union had nothing to do with his politics.

Saying that he would have no choice but to leave the union, he said: "At the union, the workers are the ones who are responsible for voting me in. They want me to represent them and that is why I was voted chairman of that particular branch."

He said that his job was to help the workers, should they have any problems at their workplace.

But outside of the union, Mr Ali has been making headlines, too.

In August, he was touted as the new champion of the tudung cause after he organised a Tudung Forum at the Sultan Mosque.

NTUC media spokesman Toh Yong Chuan told Today: "This is not something which the NTUC is handling.

"It is a UWEEI issue."

He said it was up to the union to remove any person from office.

"The NTUC does not get involved in that in any way."

Show some love,

Back to Previous Page