Monday, October 08, 2012

Some very disturbing aspects of how NTUC treated the Amy Cheong case.

First of all, I was very disturbed and upset with what Amy Cheong said. As a former Assistant Director in NTUC-ARU myself, this case really hurt because I had to brace myself for questions which may come from Malay friends and colleagues who may ask me what she was like, etc.

Personally, this case should be closed, the mobs on the Internet got what they wanted, they should be happy. Today was a good day for racial harmony, all races united to condemn Amy's comments on FB.

But for current and former employees of NTUC, many concerns remain.

After Amy was sacked, I realised that this raises more questions about my former organization's practices.

Almost all employees in NTUC-ARU are encouraged to take up Union membership. In fact, I'm still a member. I pay $9 a month to be part of the Unions.

While most enjoy membership benefits in the form of link points, being a Union member entitles you to workplace representation.

If you follow the timeframe in which Amy posted her offensive comments and the time she was sacked in the news, this begs the questions of whether the Unions had a chance to step in to negotiate the terms of her punishment with NTUC management.

Kong Hee, Ng Boon Gay and even T T Durai had trials and a fair opportunity to defend themselves.

This looks like a bad case of a knee jerk reaction.

NTUC's ultimate role is to defend workers from their employers.

I was shocked and dismayed that there was no visible attempt to at least intercede on behalf of fair play. Amy may be wrong but can the punishment be lightened in light of her Union membership. More disturbingly, can a Union step aside because it was politically correct to do so ?

I can certainly imagine how this can be better managed:

a) Secretary General Lim Swee Say suspends Amy Cheong with immediate effect today.
b) NTUC does a thorough investigation with HR over two weeks, lets cool heads prevail and determines that this is an offence that warrants termination.
c) Staff Union of NTUC or SUN intercedes on Amy's behalf, General Secretary of the Union (currently an ethnic Malay lady ) declares that they are against racism but is is open to forgive the perpetrator. SUN lobbies to downgrade the punishment.
d) Amy gets demoted and volunteers 100 man-days of service to the Malay Community.
e) After serving time, Amy speaks of her experiences and how wrong and remorseful she was.
e) Everybody comes together to celebrate how well the affair was handled and how a crisis becomes a teachable moment for forgiveness and remorse.

While it's right to punish someone for racism,  the punishment must fit the crime and justice needs its due process. With authorities rushing to condemn a wrongdoing and pandering to mob rule, we should not forget that someone's livelihood has been permanently destroyed over a private comment in a facebook page. Should we even start going after members of the mob who used this opportunity to make some racist statements of their own ?

I could think of some political figures who have done much worse and was given way better treatment for it.


  1. Interesting, I was working on my blog post before I went for a nap. And serving community service with Malays was something I thought up as well.

  2. In Singapore, quick justice is rarely seen by common folk. Hence quick justice is preferred over slow justice which usually seen by common folk as no justice at all.

  3. It might be a better idea for Amy to be sentenced to help out at least 50 malay weddings...

  4. Absolutely critical to keep this kind of ethnic tension down. Its' the kind of thing that can explode if not handled properly.
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