Be better bosses, workers, customers: Swee Say

Traffic congestion, MRT delays and even sinkholes in the roads - Singapore, acknowledged labour chief Lim Swee Say, does have hiccups from time to time.

This is not a world of zero defects, he said at the May Day Rally yesterday.

But he urged people to remember that "for every day when some things go wrong, there are many when most things go right".

Singapore's taps still run during dry spells, food supply is clean and sufficient, the city is safe, students top the world in problem solving, and utilities are reliable.

These things work because of the thousands of workers toiling behind the scenes, he said, urging Singaporeans to be better employers, better workers and better customers.

His call reinforced his May Day message last Sunday, in which he encouraged Singaporeans to show respect, particularly to those who serve them.

"We should remember that people serving us are people too. Let's treat each other as equals with courtesy, respect and appreciation," he said.

Video clips of five workers were shown at the rally, as Mr Lim showcased different trades, from taxi drivers to engineers - those "working hard round the clock, serving the people of Singapore".

One video showed Mr Ang Boon Ho, an assistant supervisor at Japanese watch company Seiko, saying that he has stayed at his job for 33 years with the aim of giving his family a better life.

"Being able to support my family and see my children grow up is the most rewarding experience," he said.

Another worker who was featured was Mr Lim Chee Kiang, a PSA crane operator who spoke about his passion to pick up new skills, as "learning never stops".

Taxi driver Raymond Ong appealed to customers to understand that cabbies "work long hours and can make unintentional errors".

Mr Lim Swee Say said there were many more workers like those he singled out who took pride in their jobs.

That was why the labour movement was taking the lead to show its appreciation to ordinary Singaporeans.

Some 1,000 unionists went around Singapore yesterday, thanking about 100,000 workers for their hard work.

Said Mr Lim: "Let us not wait for each other. Be the first to change, and make things better for all our fellow workers."

This article was published on May 2 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.