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Good neighbourliness key to managing disputes: MCCY

Strong consensus from public consultation about the need to cultivate good neighbourliness and bring back the "kampong spirit", the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth says.

SINGAPORE: Creating a “Happy Neighbour’s Day”, helping residents move into their new homes, and setting up mobile hawker centres so residents can mingle - these were some of the ideas received in a public consultation on encouraging good neighbourliness.

Close to 100 responses were received in the six-week long public consultation, which also asked people for ideas on how to improve the management of disputes between neighbours, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said on Thursday (June 12).

“There was a strong consensus about the need to cultivate good neighbourliness, bring back the ‘kampong spirit’, and to step up public education efforts,” MCCY said.

Respondents were largely supportive of informal mediation by grassroots leaders and formal mediation by the Community Mediation Centre to help resolve disputes, the ministry said. However, a few said that formal mediation was not always effective, especially since parties could decline to show up or expressed concern that mandatory mediation may be abused by vindictive neighbours.

There was strong support for adjudication by a tribunal as a last resort, when all other efforts had failed. A number of respondents also called for government agencies to enforce rules against repeated anti-social behaviour by neighbours, MCCY stated.

In view of the feedback received, the Government will focus on strengthening public education efforts to promote good neighbourliness and improve frontline responses for community disputes, it said. Grassroots leaders will receive specialised training to help them mediate disputes, and the Community Mediation Centre will also increase its capacity and ability to help disputing residents reach amicable outcomes.

The Government will also further study the proposed mechanism for the adjudication of difficult cases and work with frontline agencies to strengthen enforcement efforts against repeated anti-social behaviours, the ministry added.

Below are some ideas by respondents on promoting good neighbourliness:

1. Ms Shabana Akhtar, Admin Executive

"In my opinion, to bring back good neighbourliness, we need to bring back the kampong spirit. In the kampong days, neighbours will keep their house doors opened, because they know each other and are friends. They share mutual trust between one another. People would gather together chit chat, share recipes, and cook together and send food to one another, creating a lot of interaction and sharing."

2. Mr Aloysius Goh, In-house Legal Consultant

"When the framework is established, the hope is that neighbours would find useful guidance on what it means to be considerate in their speech and actions towards one another. Some clear behaviour guidelines as well as accessible mediation services should encourage neighbours to approach each other to resolve their issues/ differences through friendly and respectful dialogue."

3. Mr Lau Kim Boo, Retiree

"Ways to cultivate good neighbourliness include: Having regular activities involving small groups of residents, for example street parties, celebration of local cultural events like Hari Raya, Deepavali, Mid-Autumn Festival, etc; organising talks and training sessions for the neighbourhood; and forming interest groups among neighbours, such as cooking and baking."

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