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As SNCF celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year, we recognise the contributions and sacrifices of our pioneer leaders. In this issue of "The Difference Maker" series, Co-operator pays tribute to Mr P Ramasamy, SNCF's first Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.  

SNCF First TGA

 

Co-operatives must meet the expectations of society, the demands of the national economy and the complexities of modern technology.

- Mr Packrisamy Ramasamy

The vision is still relevant today as it was first spoken in 1984 by Mr Packrisamy Ramasamy, fondly remembered as the first Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF).

 

A glimpse into Mr Ramasamy’s legacy and accomplishments reveals a man who is a pioneer and a strategist with the gift of mobilising people.

 

A cause close to him was workers’ welfare. His involvement with the trade unions began in 1952 when he was advisor to a few public daily-rated trade unions. In 1955, Mr Ramasamy was appointed full time General Secretary to the City Council Services’ Union (CCSU). He became an official of the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE), and was elected Deputy General Secretary, a position he held until 1980.

 

When it came to challenging tasks such as leading a team in re-structuring and organising new setups, he was in his element.

 

Mr Ramasamy served as Secretary to the NTUC Task Force whose function was to restructure two industrial unions Singapore Industrial Labour Organisation (SILO) and the Pioneer Industry Employees’ Union (PIEU).

 

He was also the Director of NTUC Welcome Board (1979-1980) and NTUC Secretary for Co-operatives (1979-1982) and Deputy Director NTUC Research Unit. Ramasamy also served in difference capacities in numerous committees and boards including the Industrial Arbitration Court (1963-1967), Adult Education Board (1972-1978) and the Civil Service Productivity Steering Committee (1981-1983).

 

His leadership skills; trade union and co-operative experience; and expertise in restructuring, modernisation and consolidation of organisations made him the obvious choice to be appointed the first Chairman of SNCF in 1981 and Chief Executive Officer in 1983. In 1984, he was re-elected and appointed for a second term of three years as Chairman.

 

SNCF First ChairmanMr Ramasamy was entrusted with the responsibility to have SNCF recognised as a co-operative federation representing co-operatives in Singapore. It was no mean feat but he took it in his stride.

 

One of the first tasks Mr Ramasamy set to do was to uplift the capability and capacity of the co-operatives. His pro-active approach to co-operative development was to quickly bring co-operators and managers up to speed on the skills and knowledge needed to be effective.

 

In 1981, SNCF ran a two-year course on the theory and practice of effective management of co-operatives. The first-ever training workshop – Consultation Workshop on Training empowered some 80 SNCF affiliates. In 1983, SNCF held its first-ever co-operative manpower training requirements survey to determine the training needs of co-operatives and discovered that there was a shortage of professional and trained workers in the co-operative sector. More skills upgrading for co-operators and professional managers of co-operatives at all levels ensued. Courses on Co-operative Legislation, Bookkeeping and Financial Accounting, Financial Analysis and Investment Management were conducted.

 

During his leadership as Chairman, Mr Ramasamy took over the publication of The Co-operator from the Singapore National Co-operative Union, to make it the official mouthpiece of SNCF. The Co-operator was to carry informative news and articles about the goings-in in the co-operative world in Singapore and abroad.

 

By 1984, three years after the formation of SNCF, the percentage of co-ops in Singapore affiliated to SNCF stood at 96 per cent. In the triennial report covering 1981 to 1984, Mr Ramasamy highlighted that “centralisation has made possible better coordination of activities and more educational courses, in both general and specialised fields”.

 

By 30 June 1985, most of the co-operative societies in Singapore were united under the banner of SNCF. In that same year, a major milestone in the history of SNCF was made when it became an affiliate of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).

 

His most enduring legacy was the organising of co-operatives and the raising of standards of management within co-operatives.

 

Mr Ramasamy's untimely death on 4 July 1985, due to an acid attack was a shock to co-operators and trade unionists in Singapore and abroad. SNCF felt a great sense of loss for he was a loyal friend, diligent co-operator and respected leader. He paved the way for SNCF to grow. As we continue to chart the trajectory ahead, we navigate with the bearings of Mr Ramasamy had given us through his prescient vision of 1984.

In recognition of his contributions to the co-operative movement, the Singapore National Co-operative Federation conferred on Mr Ramasamy the Rochdale Gold Medal Award (posthumous) in 1987.  In 1983, the NTUC conferred Mr Ramasamy the Veteran of Labour Award.

 

We appreciate Mr Ramasamy for paving the way in the growth and development of not only SNCF, but the Co-operative Movement in Singapore.

 

 

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Singapore National Co-operative Federation
510 Thomson Road #12-02
SLF Building, Singapore 298135
Email: [email protected]
Tel (65) 6602 0747, Fax (65) 6259 9577

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