TL;DR – We try to get up close and personal.
When we embarked on this article, it was supposed to be part of our A Day in the Life of series. But when we met up with Labour MP Patrick Tay, we discovered that his days are hardly typical and because he spontaneously offered to allow us to dig into his personal life (“let’s not make this too sanitary”, he says), we decided that this shall be the A Slice of Life series instead.
And what a very big slice it turned out to be.
Firstly, who is Patrick Tay?
At work, he’s the Assistant Secretary-General at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and also the MP of West Coast GRC.
If you are reading this from the comfort of your office, then chances are, whatever he does is very relevant and significant to your life considering that he often champions for professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) in his role as a Labour MP.
(By the way, you might have noticed that he has a lot of stuff in his office and we actually ended up doing an article explaining some of the items lol.)
So what exactly does a Labour MP do?
Don’t worry, we met his family too (he offered!) and amongst his three children, only his firstborn knows his exact designation. The 13-year-old says that some of his classmates have spotted his dad on the television.
According to LinkedIn, Tay is the Adviser to the DBS Staff Union (DBSSU) and Singapore Insurance Employees’ Union (SIEU) and Trustee of Public Utilities Board Employees’ Union (PUBEU) and IRAS Staff Union (IRASSU).
He is also a Board member of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and Workforce Singapore (WSG).
Patrick was officially sworn into parliament on 7 May 2011 and since then, he has surfaced the concerns of PMEs in Parliament and how the Budget could support them with regards to the 4Ps: protection, progression, placement and privileges.
In his 2016 Debate on President’s Address, he called for a PME dependency ratio (akin to those for S Passes and Work Permits) to be implemented for companies which have a weak Singaporean core and a weak commitment to creating a Singaporean core.
What issues did Patrick raise in his Budget Debate Speech 2018?
The Budget Statement was just announced by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat last Monday, and this week marked the start of the budget debate speeches in Parliament.
Together with the other Labour MPs, they championed for all the different worker segments, from rank-and-file workers, PMEs, SME workers, freelancers and self-employed. The focus is on harnessing the value of every worker, and helping them ride the waves of disruption.
For Patrick, his advocacy is on helping PMEs stay relevant and to turn challenges into opportunities. In this year’s budget debate, Patrick suggested that the adult learning model has to be reworked.
“Our working people typically take about 15 years to prepare themselves for their first job with the expectation to progress to more challenging and better paying jobs thereafter. Paradoxically, people generally spend less time and effort to prepare and upskill themselves for their next job. Given the time pressures, financial and family commitments, it would not be practical to set aside another 15 years to upskill working people for their next job.”
“The adult learning model thus has to be reworked to enable working people to upskill and remain marketable and relevant and enhance their opportunities for career progression. We need to re-tool at a faster rate.”
“That is why in NTUC, we are reworking the entire adult learning model. We want to develop modules which are bite-sized and just-in-time for continuous learning.”
Balancing work and family
To be honest, it was quite difficult to score this interview because of his long days of back-to-back meetings, events and even more meetings. In fact, we had to meet him over several sessions over a few months to develop this piece.
How then, does he find time for his family?
He says he tries very hard to take a week off every year for their annual family vacation. Even so, there is “almost never a trip” that he hasn’t been spotted by his residents and it’s practically an informal meet-the-people session overseas.
He also tries to organise bowling sessions with his children (you can try spotting him at Our Tampines Hub) and we crashed one such session that day. We’ve got to admit that he’s a pretty good bowler (he’s apparently quite the sportsman – football, rugby, adventure sports, you name it) and at first look, they look like any other family out on the weekend. But if you were to examine closely, you can’t help but wonder if the children are perhaps closer to their mother instead, given the amount of time he spends at work. The admiration they have for him though is visibly clear. You can’t miss the pride in a seven-year-old’s girl’s “Do you know my Daddy used to be a police officer?” and the way she beams when she says “My Daddy’s favourite food is duck rice!”
(Which by the way, again, she doesn’t like at all but still lovingly trudges along to accompany her father.)
After the bowling game, Patrick invited us to join them for lunch at said duck rice stall and we excitedly went along.
But hmm, let’s just say that food blogging wouldn’t make a very good career for him.