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I found my passion…

and it is out there at sea.

For two years, Nurfaezah was a bartender with limited job prospects. At a Job Fair in 2014, she approached a Captain and asked if a seafaring career was just for men. The Captain’s reply made her rethink the limitations she had set for herself and opened her eyes to the possibility of a prospective future in seafaring.

That serendipitous meeting charted the way for Nurfaezah into a seafaring career. Nurfaezah discovered the Tripartite Nautical Training Award (TNTA) Programme, offered by the Wavelink Maritime Institute (WMI), a training academy set up by the Wavelink Co-operative.

Fae, as she is better known, made the career switch from bartending, and signed up for the TNTA Programme. The rest, as we all would say, is history.

Touching Lives Wavelink
Photo credit: SMOU

Fae was offered a training opportunity by Pacific International Lines (PIL), enabling her to enrol into the TNTA programme comprising six months of pre-sea classroom training, 18 months of shipboard training and seven months of preparatory course and examinations. A great bonus of the programme was that Fae could receive stipends during each phase of her training, as part of her training allowance, and had 90 per cent of the programme’s fee covered.

Through the training programme, Fae delved into the world of maritime and found herself falling deeper in love with the seafarer’s call of duty. “Whenever I sign off from ships after spending six to nine months at sea, one week is all it takes for me to want to set sail again,” she confessed.

Upon the completion of her TNTA training, Fae is grateful and attributes her success to the support of Wavelink. Fae is especially thankful to the Wavelink Maritime Institute (WMI) and the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) for igniting her passion in seafaring, for granting her the opportunity and for opening doors to help her pursue her career goal.

Today, Fae is a TNTA graduate holding a Certificate of Competency (CoC) Class 3 and continues to work as an officer at PIL, a ship-owner and operator that offers container and multi-purpose services at more than 500 locations in 100 countries. In just two years of sailing, she had already called on ports in Brazil, China, Seoul, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Bangladesh.

She finds every part of her seafaring job enjoyable and is setting her sights to become a captain. The sky is the limit.

 aclc group photo

With the theme ‘Stronger Together: Collaboration for a Sustainable Future’, SNCF is delighted to bring together about 120 Co-operative leaders and speakers who have specially flown over to Phuket for the 2018 Annual Co-operative Leaders’ Conference (ACLC) on 21 - 24 April. This attracted largest turnout and spread across 28 co-operatives (co-ops).

This year, we are honoured to have Mr Heng Chee How, Senior Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office and Deputy Secretary-General of NTUC to join us as our keynote speaker.

Mr Heng Chee How
     ACLC Keynote Speaker, Mr Heng Chee How

With the theme ‘Stronger Together: Collaboration for a Sustainable Future’, SNCF Chairman, Mr Kwek Kok Kwong kicked start the conference with his vision that the co-op movement can continue to grow and remain sustainable if we collaborate. Most importantly is that the co-op movement does not fall into black hole of disruption in the digital vortex.

Co-ops are businesses driven by values, and not just profit. Through collaboration, we are able to deliver greater impact what none of us could achieve alone. Mr Heng challenged all co-ops to think deeper as to whether they are the preferred partner in their business. He advocated that one should not “change for the sake of changing, and should not assume that by doing things the same way a different result can be achieved” and that “past achievements are no guarantee for future success or survival”. If we want to stay relevant and sustainable, we need to have the DIANA factors - Data, Innovation, Adaptation, Network and Agility and also be the group that “makes things happen”.

MMO 8238   2
ACLC Speakers with SNCF EXCO members from left to right: Ms Clara Lee, Ms Guo MeiQi, Ms Chow Fong Leng, Ms Shena Foo, Mr Chia Hock Lai, Ms Dolly Goh, Mr Heng Chee How, Mr Kwek Kok Kwong, Mr Tng Ah Yiam, Mr Anan Chatrupracheewin, Mr Kenneth Kwan, Mr Aaron Lee, Ms Salbiah Manan and Mr Yeo Chun Fing


Mr Tng Ah Yiam, Deputy CEO and Head of Products, NTUC FairPrice Co-operative, expounded on Mr Heng’s presentation by illustrating how FairPrice collaborates with different players to create greater impact. He cited several examples including the recent collaboration on developing infant milk formula from scratch.

Mr Chia Hock Lai, Head, Digital Office, NTUC Income Co-operative, then highlighted the importance of data research which allows NTUC Income to innovate and adapt to ever-changing landscape while collaborating with starts-ups like Jaga-Me helps them to stay agile. He too emphasized that “co-ops are not all about selling products, they can also serve customers better”. So before digitalising the business, it is important to think through what our customers want.

Mr Aaron Lee, Co-Founder of Jaga-Me shared how Jaga-Me through its cross-provider technology empowers different organisations in the healthcare sector to collaborate seamlessly together for the social good. The importance of collaboration is further emphasized in Ms Shena Foo’s presentation. Ms Foo, Deputy CEO of Seacare shared how SOS and Seacare Co-operative collaborated to better the lives not only of their members, but also the community as well.

It is not enough to learn from our own co-operators. It is important that we learn from our global counterparts as well. Mr Anan Chatrupracheewin, who has retired from the Federation of Savings and Credit Co-operatives of Thailand, shared the structure of co-operative movement in Thailand including their operations which helped deepen our understanding on credit co-ops in Thailand.

The first day of the conference closed with the Speed Networking session. Through the speed networking session, the co-op leaders have learnt that they need to get to know each other better and, not just know of each other. It also generated collaborative opportunities among the co-ops. For example, the possible collaboration between NTUC LearningHub and co-ops like NTUC Health, Silver Caregivers and Seacare which provide healthcare screening services. FairPrice is keen to work with Customs Credit Co-operative on the provision of customised training programme for its procurement staff. SNCF will follow up on these possibilities and ideas with respective co-ops. By partnering, we can build an even more robust and sustainable co-op movement in Singapore.

In the Day 2 of the conference, we have Ms Clara Lee, Head of Corporate Communication and Branding sharing NTUC Health’s efforts to meet the needs of our ageing population such as collaborating with the communities and institutions to promote active ageing and enhance self-care competencies.

Ms Guo Meiqi, our SNCF Scholar who is currently working at NTUC First Campus, gave her opinion on the power of small. She said: “The masses focus too much on the big, when the solution often lies in retaining the essence of the small”. She also elaborated on the general misperception on millennials and emphasized the “key to understand millennials today is to understand their preference to create new networks which differ from the older generations who sought to empower hierarchies.”

Last but not least, we have Mr Kenneth Kwan from Deep Impact sharing his Small Steps to Big Changes. He showed that all we need to do is to take small steps a time to stay relevant, to innovate and to enhance productivity. And each small step we take will help meet the changing needs of the community; and these small steps will collectively form big strides enabling us to move forward make a great impact.

Our lucky draw grand prize winner who won a 3D2N stay at
Novotel Phuket Vintage Park Resort
Stage Performance
Thai cultural dance performance

Group Photo Cabaret
Co-operators with cabaret show performers

Wefie at the gala dinner

The conference ended with a farewell gala dinner where participants were treated to cultural dance performances, cabaret show, lucky draw and games!

View more event photos below or on our Facebook page:

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Tcc Young Sg Family
Photo credit: TCC Credit Co-operative

Article contributed by Annalicia Maria Brazas, TCC Credit Co-operative

Singapore has been named the most expensive city in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide Cost of Living Survey again this year and cost of living is 16% higher than New York.

As a young Singaporean living in Singapore, there are many challenges that we may encounter during different stages of life - Education, Savings, Marriage and Housing.


Getting a degree in Singapore is an expensive matter whether you are studying at a Private or Public University. The average cost of a degree ranges between S$30,000 and S$85,000.


There are so many things that we want such as leisure trips, attending concerts or getting that designer bag. Such desires made it hard for us, young Singaporeans to save even after we have joined the workforce.


A typical wedding dinner could cost S$24,000 and above which is almost equivalent to an average young Singaporean's annual salary. This is not inclusive of other costs such as venue rental, gowns and makeover, videography and photography services, and so forth.

New Home

With marriage comes the house needs. Renovation costs are rising and a basic renovation would cost an average of S$30,000 or more.


Tcc Logo JpgThis is where TCC Credit Co-operative might be of assistance.

By being the only credit co-operative that members of the public can join, you will have a savings account where you can contribute S$10 per month - a manageable amount that would help in kick-starting your savings.

TCC also offer loans at competitive interest rates such as Education loan, Marriage loan and Renovation loan that would help you through the different stages of your life. Why not contact our friendly officers today for more information? Visit our website at or call +65 6319 3700 now!

Co-operatives are essentially self-help; whether it is a consumer co-operative, thrift & loan or transport co-operative. You have people coming together to try and address some of these problems as a community.

Mr S R Nathan -
Singapore's 6th President

S R Nathan
Mr S R Nathan
Singapore's 6th President

When it comes to championing the co-operative mission, the late Mr S R Nathan, would not bat an eyelid to give his full support. After all, the Singapore’s 6th President himself had personally benefited from being a co-operative member and knew first-hand the good work of mutual help. Three times the Singapore Government Staff Credit Co-operative Society offered him a helping hand…in the form of low interest loans. The late Mr Nathan candidly shared:

“When I got married in 1958, I didn’t have enough money to get married. So I took a loan from the co-operative. The second time I borrowed money was to buy a house. The third was when I wanted to return a $200 monthly special allowance which I received over 10 months from the NTUC, I borrowed $2,000 from the co-operative to pay back NTUC.”

He continued: “When I needed money, I did not go to the banks. Unlike today, the banks then would never lend you money. Since you couldn’t get a loan or money overdraft from the bank, you had to keep your bank account in surplus all the time. Most of us joined the thrift and loan societies in the belief that if we needed financial help to tide us through, we could go to them. So we joined and when we needed to take out a loan, the sum borrowed would then be deducted from our salaries.”

In the October-December 2012 issue of the Co-operator, Mr Nathan talks about the evolution of the co-operative movement in Singapore and how it rose to the challenge of being relevant.

Having observed how co-operatives have evolved over the years, what do you think are some key lessons for co-operatives?

Co-operatives will continue to remain relevant because they are set up to address a particular social need. But while there may members who contribute to it, its management should be more professional to discourage any forms of manipulation and misappropriation.

We started a consumer co-operative in the early 50s during the Korean War. I remember there was an outlet which operated in Victoria Street. The co-operative bought items in bulk and sold them to co-operative members at very small margins. But some members from the lower income group would buy these items and sell them immediately to the shopkeeper for cash. This was one way for them to cash-in since the co-operative membership fee deduction was only due on their payday. The co-operative failed. Co-operatives should not be over-dependent on their member-owners who might not have the professional pre-requisites to run a sustainable co-operative enterprise.

So I think one of the lessons I have drawn from past experiences is that for a co-operative to succeed, there must be professional managerial support that runs the place as an enterprise. If we depend entirely on members, there is the danger of misappropriation of funds, manipulation by dominant individuals, or leaders lapsing into lethargy. Conversely, if we depend solely on the enthusiasm of the secretary or president, the co-operative will carry on, but without meaningful long-term development or progress.

How were Government Thrift and Loan Co-operatives organised in the past?

In the early days of PAP, housing was also very much in demand. The co-operatives were one means of funding private housing. The Thrift and Loan Co-operative provided funds while the Government encouraged the co-operatives to look for properties, develop them, and allow members to purchase housing and pay by instalments. There could have been other co-operatives, but as far as the Government co-operatives were concerned, these were like voluntary associations. Every year, they have a general meeting and elected their own committee.

In order for those who were leading the co-operative to remain in position, they were always able to mobilise the division four staff in large numbers to come to the general meetings and cast their votes during elections. These staff were the ones who were mostly in need. They found value in the membership and a sense of obligation to support the committee. This contrasted with other members who were quite indifferent. The group that led the co-operative largely maintained their positions. They were helped on by division four staff as well as disinterested, tepid members. That was the thrift and loan.

We must learn from the past and find a way to address the issues to develop relevant, professional and viable co-operatives.

What are some success stories – past and present?

The labour movement asked a question: ‘How do we sustain our members?’ This was where the idea of setting up co-operatives came about.

So we started with an insurance co-operative with Dr Goh Keng Swee’s persuasion and got somebody to help us start an insurance company when we knew nothing about it. NTUC Comfort was Devan Nair’s idea. At the time of the British withdrawal, we received some concessions on a fleet of taxis the British donated to us.

We also knew that shopkeepers traditionally raised prices with every rise in cost of living allowances. So one of the things Professor Thomas Harold Elliott thought of was having a consumer co-operative to benchmark basic essentials. What you normally buy from the shopkeeper, you should be able to do in bulk – whether rice, salt or sugar.

Since then, the co-operative movement and NTUC Co-operatives have advanced tremendously with good management. One reason for the success of NTUC Co-operatives is making provisions for a managerial element. You have your staff, you have a systematic setup, you did all the groundwork and this was presented to your members for endorsement. Unfortunately in some other cases, I am told some of the co-operative leaders were being paid substantial market bonuses, which I felt was contrary to the spirit of the co-operatives.

After Ong Teng Cheong came into the NTUC, we had resorts and so on. So out of this initial move to give to members something of value so that they would want to keep their links with the movement, came all these co-operatives like NTUC FairPrice, Income, Unity Healthcare, Eldercare, and so on.

The current credit Thrift and Loan society sees a worrying trend in younger workers mostly from lower-middle and middle incomes who have gotten into the habit of possessing multiple credit cards and living beyond their means. They cannot pay their credit card bills and incur high interest charges. What would you suggest?

The co-operative movement could explore setting up an agency which agrees to helping these individuals sort out their figures, on condition that they are working, are prepared to receive help and disclose their finances. People have their dignity; they may have already suffered but they need to be aware that such an avenue of help is available for them. They need to come forth and seek help, which they can do in private.

We have to address it that way to break the vicious cycle. And every month, the co-operative agency can perform check-offs to make the necessary deductions on their salaries before pay-outs. Otherwise, it will be unending. But to be fair, the deductions have to be reasonable since the person needs to have enough to live on as well.

It is something the movement can look into. With one or two good examples, word can get around. We can work it out. Individual co-operative societies can do it; the parent co-operative movement can help; and the bankruptcy office will have leads on relevant cases. Perhaps a kind of reserve bank can also be put aside to see how we can fund and investigate the extent of these problems.

With this thought-provoking suggestion, the late President displays the side of him that he is well-versed in the co-operative movement having personally experienced the benefits of co-operatives.

The article was first published in the Co-operator (October- December 2012 issue).

Learning Tips

  • Need to encourage people to come together and address society needs as a community
  • Develop relevant, professional and viable co-operatives

Fishcopfed 1

A 20-member delegation of the National Federation of Fishers Cooperatives Ltd. (FISHCOPFED), the apex body of fishery cooperatives in India visited SNCF on 10 April 2018.

In this study trip led by FISHCOPFED’s Vice President, Mr Shri Ramdas P. Sandhe, the group of directors visited both Malaysia and Singapore to understand more about the co-operative movement in the both countries.

SNCF Senior Manager (NTUC, Service, Campus and Youth) Mr Ronald Low welcomed the delegation and gave an overview of SNCF and its focus areas in the sharing session.  There was a lively exchange led by SNCF CEO Ms Dolly Goh and FISHCOPFED’s Vice President, Mr Shri Ramdas P. Sandhe. SNCF also shared with FISHCOPFED that Singapore imports over 90% of the food consumed in the country due to little farming land and limited fishing grounds. In fact, Singapore’s local farms only produce only 8% of all the fish that we eat in Singapore.1

Fishcopfed 2

FISHCOPFED shared with us their mission i.e. to promote and develop the fishery cooperative movement in India. Not only do they focus on marketing and sales, they also constantly train and educate their members with the view to enhance fish production and generate employment. To better the welfare of their members, they provide insurance coverage and computers.

SNCF looks forward to meeting them again, perhaps in India next time!


Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of 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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