TL;DR – Why not?
If you have always been highly politically aware, then you should know by now that the People’s Action Party (PAP) just held their annual party convention on Sunday (28 November) at the Suntec Convention Centre. Otherwise, to most politically apathetic Singaporeans, this is yet another oh-so-boring event that we don’t really give a hoot about – because #whocares, right?!
However, this year’s convention had ignited some interest amongst netizens.
All because of one photo.
On 28 November, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng took to Facebook to share some pictures from the PAP Convention attended by members of the party, including its secretary-general Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
However, one particular photo from his post drew flak from netizens – likely due to the caption which accompanied it, as pointed out by GoodyFeed.
According to the alternative media, netizens were angered by the labour chief’s caption which said, “The PAP is at the heart of NTUC, and the NTUC is at the heart of what the PAP does,” as netizens felt that an independent union should have no ties or affiliation to a political party.
But did you know that in many countries around the world, there exists a political party that would call itself “Labour”, or “Workers”, and chances are that these parties have affiliations with trade unions or trade union movements?
This is because, as FiveStarsAndAMoon put it, trade unions are creatures of industrial politics, whether you like it or not.
Trade unions need political momentum, power, and ground support for them to conduct their activities and operations. They also need that affiliation to have that voice and influence over policymaking if they want to improve the standard of living for members. Or else, how are they going to get anything done without political backing?
So why shouldn’t the union work with a political party?
I mean yes, NTUC could have adopted confrontational approaches such as strikes and riots to threaten employers and governments into giving in to their demands. But what good does it do for anyone to cripple our economy?
Are these people sick of their peaceful lives so much that they can’t wait for hell to break loose and for strikes to happen all day every day as we’ve seen in other countries? How does it benefit anyone by causing injuries or even death?
What’s so bad about using a non-confrontational approach to collaborate with the PAP to improve the lives of workers through more peaceful and effective ways?
I don’t get it.
The symbiotic relationship between the PAP and NTUC is nothing new
And it dates all the way back to 1961.
The symbiotic relationship between NTUC and the PAP was born out of a convergence of respective interests during the early days of independence when the ruling party’s policy of economic growth through rapid industrialisation also advanced worker interests.
The relationship was established on the foundation of mutual trust and consensus that continues to this day.
Just so you know, this special relationship is also what makes Singapore so successful today.