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GOH Speech at Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) Lunar New Year Luncheon 2023

Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng, Sands Expo

Mr Ng Chee Meng, Secretary General, NTUC

Ms Mary Liew, President, NTUC and General Secretary SMOU

Dr Robert Yap, President, SNEF

Distinguished guests from the Maritime industry,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Good afternoon! I would like to wish everyone here a very happy Lunar New Year, 新年快乐! 在新的一年里,祝大家风调雨顺、一帆风顺、身体健康。

It is my pleasure to celebrate Lunar New Year with the SMOU family.

This year is especially significant, as this is the first time that SMOU is hosting a Lunar New Year Luncheon & Hong Bao presentation since the pandemic.

To our seniors from Henderson Senior Citizen Home, NTUC Health Nursing Home, and Jamiyah Home for the Aged – thank you for joining us!

Singapore’s history has always been linked to our success as a global trading port.

Over the decades, our maritime industry has been a key contributor to Singapore’s economy.

To maintain our position as a leading maritime hub, we need to keep up with new trends and changes in the sector.

At the same time, we must continually upgrade our Singapore workforce by equipping our maritime officers with the skills to perform their roles effectively and take on challenges of the future.

To achieve these outcomes, the Wavelink Maritime Institute, SMOU’s training arm, will continue to bring career opportunities in seafaring to the public through a series of training programmes.

10 Such programmes include the Tripartite Nautical Training Award and the Tripartite Engineering Training Award, which were conducted to train Singaporeans to become nautical and engineering officers on board ships.

11 I am pleased to note that more than 400 cadets have been trained through these two programmes, with over 100 having graduated as seafaring officers to date.

12 Navigating the choppy waters of COVID-19 was not easy.

13 Wavelink was quick to adopt digital solutions, such as virtual classrooms, so that learning could continue.

14 This allowed Wavelink to conduct more than 260 courses, benefiting over 4,600 seagoing workers in the last two years.

15 Looking ahead into the new year, Wavelink will enhance its virtual capabilities to make training even more accessible and affordable for maritime professionals, seafarers and shipping employers.

16 SMOU’s efforts to build up our workforce is made possible, thanks to the collaboration among tripartite partners to attract, retain and develop talent in the Maritime sector.

17 One example is the launch of the Sail Milestone Achievement Programme by tripartite partners to encourage seafarers to progress in their careers, and to attain high levels in their Certificate of Competency classes.

18 Since the launch in May last year, an inaugural batch of 21 seafarers has already benefited from this programme.

19 Under the initiative, monetary incentives of up to $50,000 per person can be awarded in tranches when seafarers attain key milestones in their career journey.

20 The importance of having strong tripartite partnership was particularly exemplified during the pandemic, when they took the helm to support our seafarers in different ways, such as job matching and financial support.

21 For their contributions towards Singapore’s fight against COVID-19, four of our maritime tripartite partners were conferred with the National COVID-19 Awards.

22 My congratulations and deepest appreciation to Singapore Shipping Association President Sister Caroline Yang, Maritime and Port Authority Assistant Chief Executive Captain Muhammad Segar Abdullah, Singapore Organisation of Seamen President Kam Soon Huat and NTUC President Sister Mary Liew.

23 Please give them a big round of applause!

24 As we chart our path ahead, I trust that SMOU will continue to steer the industry in the right direction and prepare our workforce for the future of shipping.

25 Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and healthy Lunar New Year once again, and that 2023 will be a smooth sailing journey for all of us.

26 Thank you!