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The Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) held its Co-op Hot Shots 7 photo competition from 15 February to 31 March this year.

As compared to previous years which focused on co-operative values such as care for community and mutual help, the theme for this year is “A Better Society” to encapsulate ideas and feelings about the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Co-operatives play a part in helping Singapore realise sustainable development goals. Co-operatives, or co-ops in short, are social enterprises formed by members for members and work on the principles of self-sustenance and mutual help. Co-operatives do not profiteer but instead, share surpluses with members and further help communities. They also provide for members’ well-being through schemes such as bursaries and health benefits. Take a look of SDGs through  a photo journey from the perspective of a Singaporean and you will perhaps understand why we too have to pay attention to SDGs.


Ready, Get Set, Shoot!

judging edwinkoo santothie dollygoh

More than 1,200 entries were received from 35 countries, including new participating countries like Belarus, Ecuador, Mozambique, Netherlands and Spain, to name a few.

The top three winners of the respective International and Local Open categories were selected by a panel of judges comprising Documentary Photographer Mr Edwin Koo, InstaSG Founder Mr Santo Thie and CEO of SNCF Ms Dolly Goh.

The judging held on 4 April 2019 saw them coming together to select the top three winners from each categories.

Mr Santo added, “It's very encouraging to know that SNCF keeps doing this to nurture the sense of caring for community - it's the 7th year that this competition is organised - and with such a big theme about sustainability, which provokes the minds of both the photographers and the audience of the pictures to think about our future and the values that we live. This is more than just a photography contest, it's a campaign with a big purpose and it deserves more attention from everyone, photographers or not.

There are a lot of well-executed creative ideas, and we could see the effort put in by the photographers to send across their message. Each photograph speaks an important message, and I'm glad to see such effort - which tells you that you don't have to be a government agency or powerful leaders to change the world, you can use your skill and creativity to make a better life, and everyone can do that. We also see a lot of entries from social media, not just from professional photographers with professional gears, but also man-in-the-street with their mobile phone can also deliver the message in such a powerful way. This is a wake-up call for us, we should realise that what we post on social media can either be a waste of time, or it can be a powerful way to change our life for better - this competition has proven the latter.”



International Category - 1st Place: Rhedel Cabrera Sy, Philippines
International 1st Place Rhedel Cabrera Sy
Caption: The Philippines government is implementing the conditional cash transfer program that aims to help families who are considered to be among the "poorest of the poor".

International Category – 2nd Place: Anthony, Philippines
International 2nd Place Anthony
A group of children are having fun reading an educational material at the Angono Public Cemetery. Regardless of their status in life, they are willing to learn in order to improve their lives in the future.

International Category – 3rd Place:
Atahar Masum, Bangladesh
International 3rd Place Atahar Masum
Caption: Social Barriers | Invisible barriers are still there. In this photo I tried to indicate social barriers for a woman. We know exactly where is the problem but that isn't fixed yet. Still there are many barriers for a woman.

Local Open Category - 1st Place: Ong Yi Chao
Local 1st Place Ong Yi Chao
Caption: Do our part for climate action by reducing our carbon footprint. This also ensures a sustainable environment for all to enjoy.

Local Open Category – 2nd Place: William Ong
Local 2nd Place William Ong
Caption: Singapore suffers from a lack of visibility for poverty, which is growing worse, with elderly Singaporeans as the group most affected by poverty.

Local Open Category – 3rd Place: Chan Wai Meng
Local 3rd Place Chan Wai Meng
Caption: Education and providing awareness to young generation is one of the best ways to let them learn about climate change and the impact of increase waste in our living environment.


Congratulations to all winners and a big thank you to all participants for your wonderful submissions!

yeo chun fing may day comrade of labour award

For dedicating his life for workers, Yeo Chun Fing, the former general secretary and current advisor of the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE), received the Comrade of Labour (Star) (Bar) award from National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng at the NTUC May Day Awards 2019 ceremony on 3 May 2019. Mr Yeo is also currently the Chairman of the AUPE Credit Co-operative, and Second Deputy Chairman of the Singapore National Co-operative Federation.

The Comrade of Labour (Star) (Bar) is conferred on distinguished trade unionists for continuously making significant contributions to the Labour Movement. Mr Yeo played a pivotal role in improving public employees’ wages and enhancing their medical benefits during his tenure as the Secretary General of AUPE. He also advocated for fair and reasonable terms and benefits for re-employed workers. This led to re-employed workers receiving same salary for the same job responsibilities.

sncf aclc 2019 group photo

Themed “Forging Ahead as One”, SNCF Annual Co-operative Leader Conference (ACLC) 2019 aims to instil a collaborative culture among co-operatives to bring the co-operative movement to the next level. Held in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, the event saw over 110 participants coming together to learn, network and source for collaborative opportunities to grow their businesses.

Mr Kwek Kok Kwong
Mr Kwek Kok Kwong

SNCF Chairman Mr Kwek Kok Kwong gave his welcome address, sharing about how digital vortex will destruct the traditional businesses, and how Industry 4.0 will see humans working alongside robots especially in selected fields like artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet-of-Things and sensors, cloud computing and blockchain. New jobs will be created and old ones will be gone.  Competition is intense and co-operatives are not spared. It is thus important that co-operatives continue to innovate and collaborate in order to survive and sustain.

The theme, collaboration was further expounded by our keynote speaker Mr S. Chandra Das, Immediate Past Chairman of Central Co-operative Fund Committee (CCFC).  Although Mr Das was not able to attend the conference due to a medical condition, he shared with the co-operative leaders his thoughts via a video.  He said: “If co-operatives do not innovate and get involved in new areas, they can face the same fate as companies like Kodak and Nokia who became irrelevant. For co-operatives to grow, it is crucial to share resources not only within the co-operative ecosystem but also with other business entities. Co-operation and sharing will enable one to withstand competition and disruption in the marketplace.” He ended his speech with a thought-provoking question, “Now one must ask the fundamental question… Is there a future for the co-operative model? If the answer is yes, then what are the new areas to be targeted?” Indeed, for the co-operative movement to forge ahead and be relevant, we need to continue to meet the needs of not only today, but tomorrow.

Prof Jack Sim
Prof Jack Sim

The presentation by the next speaker, Professor Jack Sim, Founder of World Toilet Organisation (WTO) was inspiring. He shared how he broke the cultural taboo by mixing it with humour using the example of WTO.  Mr Sim also leverages media, governments, policymakers, thought leaders and artistes to work together to raise awareness of the issue of sanitation of 2.4 billion people.

Mr Tng Ah Yiam
  Mr Tng Ah Yiam

How do we motivate, energise and get our team to perform to their full potential? Mr Tng Ah Yiam, Deputy CEO and Head of Products, NTUC FairPrice Co-operative, shared about his leadership journey in Cheers, and how he spent many months interacting with the staff on the ground to understand the problems they face.  He listened to all the suggestions from the working level and took them back to improve and in the process, he turned Cheers from red to green. So, before profits or losses, it is important to first understand the working level in order to come up appropriate measures to improve business.

Mr Nguyen Anh Duc
  Mr Nguyen Anh Duc

Oversea co-operatives play a part in the global co-operative movement as well. Hence, it is important that we learn from them as well. Mr Nguyen Anh Duc, Deputy CEO and Board Member of Saigon Co.op, shared how Saigon Co.op has changed through the years, and how it has been managing the change to become the leading retailer in Vietnam FMCG market.  Saigon Co.op is the only retailer that possesses the most formats of store in the market, including physical and non-physical stores. Saigon Co.op also works in manufacturing, sole distributor of goods and commercial real estates. It also collaborates with NTUC FairPrice Co-operative to further cement its hold in Ho Chi Minh City.

sncf aclc 2019 andrew chow balloons

Ever wonder how to make your profile standout in the market? Mr Andrew Chow, Media Strategies & Enneagram Coach, starting his presentation with a mini balloon activitiy. He also showed how to use LinkedIn to create a strong personal profile. It is personal branding equals uniqueness made visible.

Mr Wu Jiaqing
Mr Wu Jiaqing

 Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.”

This is emphasized in SNCF Relationship Manager Mr Wu Jiaqing’s, presentation on collaboration where several examples including the recent collaboration between AUPE Credit and NTUC LearningHub Co-operatives on making study loans available to foreign workers who want to upgrade their skillset were cited.

sncf aclc 2019 breakout session

The first day of the conference closed with the Breakout sessions. Co-operative are break into three groups, namely “Do Share”, “Do Well” and “Do Good”. The sessions enable the participants to learn more about the service offerings of fellow co-operatives, and identify possible opportunities to collaborate, be it business or social responsibility. GP+ Co-operative and co-operatives like Statutory Boards Employees’ and Seacare Co-operatives are in talks on the provision of health care screening services, while Ngee Ann Co-operative is open to working with Industrial & Services Co-operative Society (ISCOS) on offering help in education to ISCOS members’ children. SNCF will follow up on these possibilities with the relevant co-operatives. Through collaboration, co-operatives can achieve sustainability and work towards Co-operative 4.0.

Mr Low Choon Chye
Mr Low Choon Chye

At the Day 2 of Conference, we have Mr Low Choon Chye, SNCF scholar who is working at NTUC LearningHub Co-operative, sharing his journey at the NTUC LearningHub and how different generations (Gen X, Y, Millennial) can come together to unleash the best in everyone through the G.R.O.W Framework - Goal, Responsibility, Open-minded and Will – and they are the “KEY” for different generations to come together to create the synergy in everything that they do.

Once again, we had Professor Jack Sim from WTO to share his direction of an efficient Base-of-Pyramid (BoP) Hub to tackle poverty. His vision is to catalyse cross-sector collaboration and strengthen participation in social entrepreneurship. Through co-design, co-buy, co-distribute and co-operation, we can build an ecosystem where everyone is an active stakeholder and nobody is left behind.  He believes the co-operative model is best suited for BoP Hub, and that the future rests with those who understand the value of collaboration.

sncf aclc 2019 panel discussion

The panel discussion, moderated by Mr Mike Thiruman, General Secretary, Singapore Teachers’ Union (STU) and Deputy Chairman, Educare Co-operative, saw the panellists sharing their views on how co-operatives can collaborate and forge ahead as one. The concept, Co-operative 4.0, was also floated during this discussion. Many including myself left the conference thinking more about Co-operative 4.0. The conference wrapped up with a farewell gala dinner where participants were treated to cultural and LED dance performances, lucky draw and games, and more!

sncf aclc 2019 farewell dinner 1 sncf aclc 2019 farewell dinner 1 2

Click here for more photos

This article is contributed by Low Choon Chye, NTUC LearningHub Co-operative.

mou aupe ntuc learninghub collaboration 2


Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
- Helen Keller

In today’s context, collaboration is key in most of the things that we do. No matter where we are and what we do, there will be areas for us to collaborate and forge ahead. Back in my University days, I remember a cheer that goes like this: “When one person does it, he/she looks like a fool, and when everybody does it, we look so cool,” and this simple cheer highlighted the importance of collaborating, synergising and bringing the best out of everybody. Bigger companies collaborate as well. Key examples include the collaboration between Go-Pro & Red Bull, Uber & Spotify, and Apple & Mastercard.

In the Co-operative Movement, collaboration is also essential as one of the Co-operative principles is Co-operation. With that principle in mind, the key question that we should ask ourselves is, “How can we collaborate?”. On this note, I would like to share the collaboration between AUPE Credit Co-operative and NTUC LearningHub Co-operative to highlighted the five golden steps of collaboration.

Step 1: Identify Areas of Need

At NTUC LearningHub Co-operative, we offer workplace safety courses to equip trainees with the relevant skills and knowledge to help them to be proficient in their job.  WSQ Certificate in Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) [Level A] and WSQ Advanced Certificate in WSH [Level B] qualifications are two of our key workplace safety courses where trainees will go through a set of modules to upskill themselves for a WSH career pathway. The enrolment rate for foreign workers is low for both WSH Level A and B, prompting us to conduct a market analysis. The results showed that foreign workers deem the course fee as high. NTUC LearningHub Co-operative identified a need to make training affordable for foreign workers.

Step 2:
Identify Partners to Collaborate

As a WSQ Approved Training Organisation (ATO) that focuses on transforming employability of workers, NTUC LearningHub Co-operative started to explore collaboration with credit co-operatives. AUPE Credit Co-operative was one of the credit co-operatives that we are very keen to work with.

Step 3:
Think Win-Win 

Collaboration will only work if a win-win outcome is achieved for both parties. Hence, it is very important to take a step back and think how you can value add to the partner you are intending to collaborate with. For the collaboration between AUPE Credit Co-operative and NTUC LearningHub Co-operative to succeed, achieving a win-win outcome for both parties was of paramount importance. NTUC LearningHub Co-operative would like to provide loans to trainees while AUPE Credit Co-operative, to increase in union membership and help their members. This was the foundation where we built upon for the collaboration to work and materialise.

Step 4:
Communicate + Compromise – Remove Obstacles Along the Way

In any collaboration, there will always be obstacles. The key is to treat obstacles as opportunities for parties to build trust and capabilities, and to congregate together to tackle and solve the pressing issues. We faced a few stumbling blocks in the collaboration between AUPE Credit Co-operative and NTUC LearningHub Co-operatives. However, both parties were very focused and determined to make the collaboration a success. We came together to discuss and tackle issues that cropped up along the way. These are the key ingredients towards a successful collaboration.

Step 5:
Iterate, Innovate and synergise

There is no perfect model or a one-size that can fix all when comes to collaboration. Thus, there is a need to constantly iterate, innovate and synergise the way we collaborate. This is exceptionally important in operations, business models and how we react to the constant changes in the environment around us. Change is the only constant. If the collaboration does work out, we need to think how to make it better by asking questions such as can we scale it up, or can we collaborate on other areas and so forth.



To conclude, the five golden steps of collaboration are key to a successful collaboration. As an individual, I am inspired by the possibilities of collaboration between NTUC LearningHub Co-operative and other partners. At the company level, collaboration brings about economies of scale where companies tap onto partners’ expertise to grow at an exponential rate. Moving forward, more collaboration should be forged within the co-operative ecosystem so that together as co-operatives we can “Do Well, Do Good”.

mou aupe ntuc learninghub collaboration 1

On 1 April 2019, NTUC LearningHub Co-operative and AUPE Credit Co-operative signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) where AUPE Credit Co-operative will offer loan facilities to foreign workers taking WSQ Certificate in WSH Level A and Level B courses at the NTUC LearningHub Co-operative.

chandra das receiving FASS stars award NUS 1Mr S Chandra Das (right) receiving the award from NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye 
Photo credit: National University of Singapore

SNCF Co-operative Champion Mr S. Chandra Das was conferred the Distinguished Arts and Social Sciences Alumni Award 2019 for contributing to the betterment of society and promotion of the arts and social science as well as flying the Singapore flag high on the global stage.

Mr S. Chandra Das, former Member of Parliament and Singapore’s Non-Resident High Commissioner to The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, received the award from the President of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Professor Tan Eng Chye on 5 April 2019. Established in 2015, the Distinguished Arts and Social Sciences Alumni Award is conferred on individuals in recognition of their distinguished scholarship and outstanding service to the Faculty, the University and Singapore.

chandra das receiving FASS stars award NUS 2Photo credit: National University of Singapore

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