Three in four NTUC-linked unions endorse Tony Tan

Faris Mokhtar

In the afternoon, Dr Tony Tan attended a luncheon organised by the hawkers association at the Redhill food market at Blk 79. (Yahoo! photo/ Faris Mokhtar)

Labour chief Lim Swee Say said on Monday that 75 per cent of the unions linked to the labour movement have chosen to endorse Dr Tony Tan as their presidential candidate of choice.

The National Trades Union Congress secretary-general said the unions wanted a President who could boost Singapore's international standing to bring in foreign investment.

They also preferred a candidate with a track record of contributing to job creation and who has shown the ability to work constructively with the government.

The remaining 25 per cent of unions, however, have decided to remain neutral. They consist of two groups: The aerospace and aviation cluster, which was unable to reach a majority decision, and the public sector unions like HDB, IRAS and PUB.

They reasoned it was not appropriate for public sector employees to throw in their endorsement of any particular candidate, said Lim. "In other words, the unions and union leaders will not pressurise the union members in one way or another."

Lim, also a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, was speaking to reporters after a dialogue session with leaders from the National Taxi Association. Dr Tony Tan was also present.

Dr Tan said he was appreciative of the support given to his candidacy. "The 75 per cent is a tremendous boost for me and I'm very grateful to all the unions. This time the NTUC has left it to the unions to decide and there isn't any top-down directive.

"So each union makes up his own mind," said the former deputy prime minister,

During the dialogue, he suggested raising the age limit of licenses granted to taxi drivers from the current 73 to 75. He also raised the idea of a National Taxi Drivers Day, where awards can be given to model taxi drivers.

Taxi drivers took the opportunity to raise various concerns ranging from healthcare coverage, rude passengers and the need to uplift the image of cabbies.

Dr Tan also visited the Redhill food market at Blk 79 on Monday, where he attended a monthly luncheon event organised by the hawker association for elderly and low-income families living in the area.

On the sidelines of his walkabout in the area, he was asked whether voters would be put off by the endorsements from establishment-linked union.

He said Singaporeans are "discerning" in their decision of which candidate to support.

"The endorsement by the unions, I'm very grateful to them but of course it's up to Singaporeans to decide how to cast his or her votes," he said.

He also commented on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's remarks on the need to maintain political harmony within the country.

Dr Tan emphasized that it is "fundamental" for the government, the oppositions and all political parties in general to work together for the good of Singapore.