SingaporeFormer Minister Lim Swee Say appointed as new Chairman of NTUC LearningHub

Former Minister Lim Swee Say appointed as new Chairman of NTUC LearningHub

“Having been a big part of the Labour Movement since 1996, Mr Lim brings over 25 years of leadership prowess to the role.” — NTUC LearningHub

Singapore’s labour movement announced today that Mr Lim Swee Say has been appointed as its new Chairman of NTUC LearningHub (LHUB).

“Having been a big part of the Labour Movement since 1996, Mr Lim brings over 25 years of leadership prowess to the role,” it said in a Facebook post.

“His past work includes initiating the Skills Redevelopment Programme, as well as the establishment of the Employment and Employable Institute (e2i) to aid workers tide through the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. Mr Lim also championed the Progressive Wage Model in 2012 to help low-wage workers progress up the skills and career ladder. As a strong advocate for workers’ training and skills upgrading, there is no one better than Mr Lim, to helm NTUC LearningHub in its social mission to uplift workers’ lives and transform livelihoods to achieve the best possible outcomes for our workers.”

NTUC’s chief, Ng Chee Meng, chiming in on Facebook on Lim’s appointment said he “always has a heart for our workers, putting their welfare, interests, skills and jobs first, especially when he was NTUC Secretary-General and subsequently, the Minister for Singapore Ministry of Manpower.”

Ng praised Lim for helping workers over the years to “have better skills so that they can take on better jobs and earn better pay.”

Ng said that he was certain that the LHUB would help the local workforce to “skill up and have better job prospects”, in tandem with Singapore companies’ transformation and their economy’s recovery.

He also thanked Mr Eugene Wong, the former Chairman of LHUB, for being the guiding light and persisting in training Singapore’s workers to help their companies ride out the rough times.

Ng was previously a Member of Parliament representing Punggol North ward of Pasir Ris–Punggol GRC from 2015 to 2020, and had held the Cabinet positions of Minister for Education (Schools) and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Before entering politics, Ng had served in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) from 1986 to 2015 and was Chief of Air Force and Chief of Defence Force, holding the highest SAF rank of Lieutenant-General.

He was first elected into Parliament after winning the 2015 general election in Pasir Ris–Punggol GRC and was appointed to the Cabinet. However, during the 2020 general election, he led a four-member PAP team contesting in Sengkang GRC and lost to the opposition Workers’ Party team. Despite his electoral defeat, he was co-opted into the PAP’s central executive committee (CEC) in 2020 and remains indirectly active in politics. He is currently serving as the secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) since 2018.

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Lim is often remembered for a tearful speech he made in Parliament in 2017.

During the Committee of Supply debate on the budget of Manpower Ministry in Parliament on 6 March 2017, Lim openly cried. He choked back in tears as he talked about the success story of a single mother with two children struggling to upgrade herself to get promoted.

Lim also happily announced that he had taken 50 companies to task for failing to give Singaporeans fair consideration when hiring. Also, more than 500 Employment Pass applications from these employers have been rejected by his ministry or withdrawn by the companies, he said.

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It was also revealed that at the end of February that year, there were 250 companies on his watchlist, up from 100 at the start. These are companies that were singled out or reported for discriminating against the hiring of Singaporeans in favour of foreigners.

During the debate, Lim said that excluding maids, there are currently 1.2 million foreigners in our workforce. While about 45% of them do jobs that locals will opt for, “we do not have enough locals to do these jobs”, he said.

The remaining 15% of foreigners or 180,000 working here are in global headquarters, he added. In trying to drive home the point that foreigners do not take jobs away from Singaporeans, Lim commented that the foreigners working here are actually a boon for Singaporeans as it exposes Singaporeans to an “international working environment” and global best practices, he said.

“On the whole, most of the foreigners working in Singapore do complement our local workforce rather than substitute our locals,” he assured.

Lim’s crying in Parliament became a talking point locally, and some asked what had he been doing to champion the local workers despite being in the labour movement for a long time.


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