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CDCs have important role to play: PM Lee

The CDCs should do more to involve the private sector, and promote volunteerism and a spirit of giving back, PM Lee says.

SINGAPORE: The mission of Community Development Councils (CDCs) - to assist the needy, bond the people and connect the community - still remains relevant today, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a swearing-in ceremony for Mayors on Friday (June 20).

At the ceremony, three Mayors were sworn in for a new term from May 27 this year to May 26, 2017 – Dr Teo Ho Pin, Chairman of the Mayors' Committee and Mayor of North West District, Mr Teo Ser Luck, Mayor of North East District and Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Mayor of the South East District.

Two new mayors were also sworn in – Ms Low Yen Ling, Mayor of South West district, and Ms Denise Phua, who takes over as Mayor of the Central Singapore district. The Mayors are also chairmen of their respective CDCs.

Said Ms Phua: "The CDC can play the role of a system integrator, where the residents' needs are identified and analysed and the CDC can try to co-ordinate and see what the other players - like the grassroots, corporations, schools, VWOs and Social Service Offices, and the ministries - are doing, to see how we can add value to the whole space."

Ms Low said the mayors are already in the midst of having conversations with their constituents and grassroots advisers and leaders, "to better understand the emerging needs in their respective divisions and that would allow us to be better placed to refine our existing programmes and even re-positioning some of them to address the emerging needs of some of their residents".

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Lee said the needy continue to require help as extended family ties weaken and more elders live alone or only with their spouses. Social bonds also "need more tending", especially as Singaporeans lead busier and more private lives, and have more diverse interests. At the same time, community involvement must deepen to complement individual effort and government support in a new phase of development, he added.

Mr Lee, who is also Chairman of the People's Association, said the Government remains focused on improving Singaporeans’ lives, with new initiatives like MediShield Life and the Pioneer Generation Package to strengthen social safety nets.

Mr Lee said one way the Government is implementing its policies better on the ground is through the Social Service Offices (SSOs), which help administer social assistance to families and help Singaporeans navigate through government assistance programmes.

The Social Assistance Units in all five CDCs have been converted to SSOs, the Prime Minister said. He called on the councils to run local programmes to complement the SSOs, as well as marshal resources in the wider community – private sector, VWOs, volunteers – to serve Singaporeans.

Mr Lee also stressed that the Government cannot and should not do everything, and individuals must support one another. The CDCs should therefore do more to involve the private sector, and promote volunteerism and a spirit of giving back, he said.

"Lead the CDCs to meet our changing needs. But always remember the basic ABCs: assist the needy, bond the people and connect the community. And at the same time, continue to explore new ways to work with and serve a changing population," he said.

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