Tuesday 26 June 2012

More Singaporeans encouraged to step forward to help community: Chan Chun Sing

By Saifulbahri Ismail, Channel NewsAsia, 24 Jun 2012

It takes a community to build a community, and more Singaporeans are encouraged to step forward to help one another to build an inclusive society.

Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Chan Chun Sing made this point during a ministerial community visit to Punggol South on Sunday.

After spending some three hours interacting with residents in the area, Mr Chan said he was impressed by the residents' efforts to help one another.

For example, he observed how senior citizens enjoyed subsidised breakfast under the "Community Breakfast" project, where participating coffeeshops offer discounts to those aged 50 and above.

Mr Chan lauded efforts like this, where the community chips in with their own resources to help the less fortunate.

He added that while this is prevalent in other communities, more can be done.

"There might be communities that require a bit more understanding of the issues involved so it's a constant work in progress.

"I don't think there will always be a point where we would claim that we have arrived but it's good to see efforts like that and I'm quietly confident by and large, the majority of Singaporeans understands the challenges we are grappling with," he shared.

During his walkabout, Mr Chan also visited the Rivervale Condominium in Punggol.

He interacted with members of the condominium's management committee, some of whom are grassroots leaders.

Mr Chan encouraged residents of Rivervale Condominium to reach out to other communities in the area and work closely with grassroots organisations.

He said he was encouraged to note that residents there have no issue living near the Grace Lodge nursing home, which is just across the road.

The nursing home is located within the Singapore Buddhist Welfare Services building.

Mr Chan said: "Going forward, our social needs in our society will increase. There will be many opportunities for us to work together and there are a lot of need for us to work closely with one another.

"We shouldn't have a situation whereby because I bought a premium flat, then social facilities shouldn't be located near me, because it's a community facility that's shared by all the people in and around the place."

Commenting on a recent report that some Singaporeans may be abandoning their elderly parents in nursing homes in Singapore and in Johor Bahru due to financial constraints, Mr Chan said there's no need for additional laws to deter Singaporeans from doing so.

He said the existing regime, including the Maintenance of Parents Act, is sufficient.

"It's both an economic issue, it's also an emotional issue that we have to grapple with. Not many people may be comfortable to send their parents overseas for care even though it might be cheaper.

"I think we are still quite traditional - we would like to visit our parents. But for those people who choose to do so, and if they enter into a private contractual agreement with some of the nursing homes beyond our shores, we hope they understand what is in it for them and what are some of the obligations that they have," he explained.

During the hour-long dialogue session with residents, Mr Chan also fielded questions on estate upgrading and government subsidies for the needy.

Responding to a resident's question on the government's engagement with Singaporeans, Mr Chan said although there's greater engagement, the issue now is how to manage the public's expectations.

He noted that the public has a higher expectation of the government and how it deals with issues raised by Singaporeans.

He added that there has to be some give and take in the engagement process.


I am quietly confident that, by and large, the majority of Singaporeans understand the challenges that we are grappling with and they are supportive of the things that we need to do. But... even if there is a minority that are grappling with some of these challenges, that may not fully appreciate or may not fully be able to come to terms in the short term with some of these issues, then it is incumbent upon us to make sure that we continue to engage them and explain some of these issues to them.
- Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, on the Nimby syndrome

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