Tuesday, October 27, 2009


24 - 25 October 2009

PAP Eunos branch sent Hock Rong and myself to attend SyMBIOSIS 2009, "a combination of Young PAP Leadership School and Uth! Campus with a strong leadership focus that seeks to empower young leaders for greater ownership and responsibility".

SyMBIOSIS 2009 was held at Downtown East for 2 days 1 Night. YP Vice-chairman Christopher de Souza officiated the commencement of the programme.

It was a really long time since I last had to brainstorm for a team name and participate in group cheer. The vibrancy of Young NTUC (YN) leaders helped pumped up the atmosphere for team bonding activities.

In one of the plenary sessions, YP and YN leaders get to understand more about each other's organisation and how the strong links between the PAP and the NTUC had benefited Singapore's economy.

Many Singaporeans know the NTUC as NTUC FairPrice and NTUC Income. Through the session, we got to understand how the leaders are elected and that how NTUC functions like a "United Nation" of Unions. In conversations with YN leaders, I learnt that as unionists, they represent their fellow workers to negotiate with employers. They are the unsung heroes!

One of the most memorable experience in the camp was the activity "Retrenchment Experience". Through games, we learnt how it feels for a worker to be retrenched during bad times.

After dinner, all of us sat by the bonfire at Pasir Ris beach and became musicians!

While party activists address each other as comrades, unionists address each other affectionately as Brothers and Sisters. After the retrenchment experience, Brother Anthony (my roommate) shared with everyone his real life retrenchment experience. His perseverance and against-all-odds attitude earned my respect! He is constantly upgrading himself and is going to be a full-fledged teacher soon. His determination is shown when he let us see his class photo, which he carried at all times to motivate himself.

SyMBIOSIS 2009 is not a programme to indoctrinate political ideologies into the participants. Instead, it provided us a wonderful opportunity to get to know our counterparts in YN, mingle with our YP comrades and also to understand the challenges ahead for Singapore.

Our finale for the leadership camp was the dialogue session with Brothers Lim Swee Say & Benjamin, Sister Josephine, Comrade Ser Luck & Christopher.

During the dialogue, Brother Lim Swee Say shared that unions have worked towards increasing the wages of low-paid jobs by job restructuring. For example, security guards used to earn about $800 a month. After restructuring their jobscope and job training, security guards now bag about $1,200 a month. Now, NTUC is looking into reducing the long working hours for security guards to ensure that they have sufficient family time.

Receiving our graduation certificates:

Team Champion:
Criticism can be constructive, but without ACTION, it's pointless. Glad to know many people thru SyMBIOSIS who put words into ACTION.

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