Do you know that SNCF was formed in 1980 to be the apex body for the Singapore Co-operative Movement?

The First of Everything series aims to showcase the rich history of Singapore’s co-operative heritage. So stay tuned on Mondays for interesting glimpses!

Have you ever wonder why SNCF exists? How did it come about? What motivated its birth? Who was involved in setting it up?

So, the first post is dedicated to the birth of SNCF!

On 16 November 1933, the Singapore Urban Co-operative Union Ltd (SUCU) was registered to serve as a coordinating body for the thrift and loan societies. Why SUCU was formed you may ask! It is because back then, there were only 2 categories to classify co-operative societies i.e. urban and rural. And all Singapore co-operatives (co-ops) were ‘urban’ in composition and organisation. Of the 23 co-ops, 14 were members of SUCU.

SUCU was renamed the Singapore Co-operative Union Ltd in July 1954 and became the Singapore National Co-operative Union (SNCU) Ltd in May 1972. However, the influence of SNCU dwindled as years passed by. Only a fraction of co-ops in Singapore were members of SNCU. It became increasingly clear that a new apex body was required. On 25 March 1975, the Registrar of Co-operatives organised a Convention at the Ministry of Social Affairs to discuss on the establishment of this new apex body. Mr Chia Cheong Fook, then Permanent Secretary to Ministry of Social Affairs shared that the Government was adamant that the co-operative movement should contribute to the social and economic development and on the need to create a framework to help the co-ops to fulfil this role. Hence in 1979, the Co-operative Societies Act was drafted to include the provision of an apex body.

Thereafter, NTUC and SNCU held an internal discussion on the creation of a new apex body that would unite all the co-ops in Singapore. It would be a 20-strong Executive Council comprising members from various affiliates and the representation would be based in proportion to the size of their memberships.

Hence, on 18 September 1980, the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) was officially registered under the Co-operative Societies Act, 1979. It was formed to be the apex body and staffed by professionals who would guide the affiliates. Thereafter in 1982, SNCU was renamed the Singapore Amalgamated Services Co-operative Organisation Ltd (SASCO) which functioned as a secondary co-operative focusing on welfare issues.

The role of SNCF:

  1. Be the co-ordinator, advisor and spokesman of the Singapore Co-operative Movement
  2. Promote and develop co-operatives as sustainable enterprises
  3. Address social and economic needs, through co-operatives
  4. Provide comprehensive programmes to assist co-operatives

Much efforts had been put in to strengthen the co-operatives through shared services (Marketing, Technology etc.) and training in term of finance and accounting knowledge so that that affiliates are able to maintain relevancy in the ever-changing environment.

SNCF will turn 38 this year, building on what the pioneer co-operators had done to strengthen the co-op movement. It will strive to bring the movement to greater heights through collaboration amongst co-operatives for a sustainable future!



Source: The Singapore Co-operative Story 1925 – 2015 by Kevin Y.L. Tan.