18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
Not quite your average twenty-seven year old

Contributed by Flora Isabelle

At first glance, Lau Kiat Hong appears to be your typical twenty-something. The twenty-seven year-old is in his first job as Category Executive (think, purchaser) at NTUC FairPrice. He’s also an avid runner who runs one to two evenings a week and used to participate in at least one marathon a month. On the weekends, he dedicates his time to freelance kayak coaching and hanging out with his friends.

Until he tells you about the “aunties and uncles” he also spends a lot of time with.

You see, Kiat Hong has spent the past three years as a committee member with the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU). A year ago, he took up the appointment as internal auditor. This means at least two meetings a month with the various “aunties and uncles” of the union whom he says are very nurturing and while they are not the coolest kids on the block, takes very good care of him and have provided him with numerous advice regarding work, family and life at large.

In March this year, he went on a 4-day trip with Young NTUC to Vietnam. The first part of it featured a visit to Co.opXtra, a joint venture between NTUC FairPrice and Vietnam’s Saigon Co.op, the largest retailing chain in Vietnam and the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park and the latter part of the trip involved service learning at a local orphanage. It was his first time doing overseas community work and it was definitely an eye-opening experience for him.

However, this is not Kiat Hong’s first involvement with volunteerism. He has helped out at elderly homes on a personal basis and at the company level, commited to a few hours of community service alongside with the rest of his colleagues at FairPrice and Young NTUC. His most memorable event to date? The annual Gift From The Heart initiative where members from the Chemical Industries Employees' Union (CIEU) and FDAWU gather at Downtown East to give out packages containing essential groceries and household supplies to low-income families who need help.

“It might just be a small bag to us, but we could see the big smiles on their faces.” He says.

When asked how he manages his time between his work, union activities, friends and other activities people in their twenties do, he laughs and says, “Sleep less!” He gets an average of six hours of sleep or less a night but adds, “It’s ok. I sleep less now so I can do more with my youth… then catch up on sleep later in life. What’s important that my waking hours are spent doing fulfilling things and so far, I’m more than happy with how I’m spending my time. It’s very rewarding.”