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MOM’s statement on the leadership succession at the Singapore National Employers Federation

30 July 2014 

  1. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) would like to express our deep appreciation to Mr Stephen Lee, as he steps down as President of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) after 26 years at its helm. Mr Lee was first elected President of the National Employers Council1 in 1977. Since then he has made invaluable contributions through representing Singapore employers in tripartite discussions, his heavy involvement in key tripartite institutions and initiatives as well as his efforts in fostering a strong tripartite partnership between SNEF, the National Trades Union Congress and the Government.
  2. As SNEF’s President, Mr Lee represented employers at the national level in the areas of industrial relations and employment policies. He is the longest-serving member of the National Wages Council, where he has represented the employers’ group for the past 36 years.
  3. During Mr Lee’s tenure as President of SNEF, he ably represented employers to work with the tripartite partners to overcome major challenges and crises including the economic downturns in the mid-1980s, 1997, 2001 to 2002 and 2008 to 2009 as well as the SARS outbreak in 2003. Through his strong and consultative leadership, Mr Lee has played an important role in ensuring that Singapore emerged stronger from these difficult times.
  4. Mr Lee has also been heavily involved in key tripartite institutions and initiatives over the years, and the formulation of many important economic and manpower policies. In the late 1970s, Mr Lee actively pushed for wage reform that resulted in today’s performance-based wage system. Mr Lee also served as a member of the Economic Review Committee from 2001 to 2003, and was on the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council, where he galvanised employers’ support for the national effort to drive productivity. Furthermore, Mr Lee has always remained a steadfast advocate of enhancing the employability of older workers, particularly in raising the retirement age to 62 and in introducing the re-employment of older workers up to age 65. He has also long supported measures to uplift the wages of low-wage workers.
  5. Most importantly, under Mr Lee’s leadership, SNEF has built a solid foundation of trust with its tripartite partners. The strong tripartite partnership that he helped to build has in turn contributed to industrial harmony as well as economic progress in Singapore. We are glad to note that Mr Lee, as SNEF’s Immediate Past President, will continue to lend his rich experience to his successor and the SNEF Council, as they steer the Federation through future challenges.
  6. Minister for Manpower Mr Tan Chuan-Jin said, "Stephen’s dedication and commitment to tripartism in Singapore is exceptional. In his own unique ways, he has helped shape the tripartism model as a centrepiece of our economic competitiveness. He has personally established a close rapport not only with many of his fellow employers, but also with union leaders and government representatives. His contributions to industrial peace and harmony and to the economic progress of Singapore cannot be overstated. We thank Stephen for his strong leadership of SNEF and wish him all the best in his role as its Immediate Past President."
  7. MOM also congratulates Dr Robert Yap on his election as President of SNEF, and looks forward to working with Dr Yap and SNEF’s continued commitment to further the tripartite collaboration under his leadership.

1 The National Employers Council and Singapore Employers Federation were amalgamated to form SNEF in July 1980.