Trade union official sacked for
opposition political ties: report

  Agence France Presse
December 5, 2002

A TRADE union official in Singapore has been sacked for refusing a union directive to renounce his membership of an opposition political party, a report said Thursday, Dec 5.

Muhamad Ali Aman was told that his role with the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) conflicted with the close ties his union enjoys with the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), the Straits Times said.

Aman and union officials were unavailable for comment, but the report said the dismissal letter stated he was acting "in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the union."

The conflict centred around Aman becoming secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), while working as a branch chairman of the 40,000-member United Workers of Electronic and Electrical Industries.

The union is one of the biggest in Singapore and is an affiliate of the umbrella labor movement, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

Industrial disputes are rare in Singapore, where the interwoven nature of society sees the NTUC in a symbiotic relationship with the PAP which has ruled the southeast Asian city-state since independence nearly 40 years ago.

Aman, who is also secretary general of the Singapore Malay National Organisation, one of four parties making up the SDA, had been told by the union to resign both posts.

He refused, saying his union work had nothing to do with politics, and the union membership recruitment brochures did not state a requirement to support the PAP as well.

"If they want it their way, then put it down clearly that if you want to be a union member, you have to be a PAP supporter," he told the newspaper.

"Then workers can decide for themselves if they want to join unions affiliated to the labour movement."