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CDCs can play critical role to bond people together, says Tharman

As Singapore becomes a society with increasingly disparate interests and views, more needs to be done to find a common cause that is shared by Singaporeans, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

SINGAPORE: As Singapore becomes a society with increasingly disparate interests and views, more needs to be done to find a common cause that is shared by Singaporeans, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

He said the various Community Development Councils (CDCs) can play a critical role in helping to find ways to bond people closer together.

Mr Tharman said this at a ceremony on Wednesday to commend South West CDC's outgoing members and to appoint new members for the next council.

Mr Tharman said: "That's always been the Singapore agenda -- emphasising the common interest of all Singaporeans and finding a common cause with each new generation.

"It is never a given, and the natural forces of every society are to emphasise differences over time. That happens all over the world.

"So it needs constant work -- of finding common cause and bringing people together because deep inside, we have so much more in common as Singaporeans than we have what differentiates us."

Mr Tharman said CDCs can also help in three other areas -- ensuring that every child has the best chance in doing well in life, doing more to give elderly Singaporeans the opportunity to stay active and lead fulfilling lives, and helping to preserve Singapore's heritage as the country evolves.

He told the 105 new members of the 6th Council that they had their work cut out for them -- to ensure that the South West CDC continues to stay close to the ground, and plays a coordinating role between the various agencies, corporate organisations and even coordinating between government agencies.

Mr Tharman also commended the work of the 5th Council, and that of former South West CDC Mayor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Dr Amy Khor, in ensuring that the CDC played a key role in coordinating various agencies and organisations on the ground.

"Amy and the CDC have already led the way in that regard and provided the basis in the last council term for this coordination on the ground between all the different assistance programmes and different agencies. So we start off on a strong footing," he said.

Ms Low Yen Ling, new Mayor for the South West District, said the new CDC reflects the community's evolving needs, and that the CDC is aligning the council's expertise to meet those needs.

Of the 105 new members, 85 per cent are from the private sector.

She said their expertise will come in handy in assisting the needy, helping to bond people and connecting the community.

Ms Low said there are four priorities for her and the new council, and that includes continuing to champion environmental responsibility and ensuring that the delivery of social support services is seamless and accessible.

She said: "We are also trying to do more for stay-at-home mums who would like to ease back into the workforce, and also the elderly who would like to work part-time to stay engaged in the community.

"So we will continue to look at areas of opportunities where we can work with our corporate partners to design initiatives that allow our residents to remain actively engaged in the community, so that they can age in place and age with grace."

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