SINGAPORE – The Central Singapore Community Development Council (CDC) appointed 20 new district councillors and reappointed another 42 in a ceremony on Tuesday (Nov 24).
Their new term of office started on July 27 and will run for three years.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was the guest of honour at the event, which was also attended by Central Singapore district mayor and council chairman Denise Phua.
Of the five CDCs – the others are North East, North West, South East and South West – Central Singapore is the largest in terms of resident numbers. Close to one million live across the Ang Mo Kio, Bishan-Toa Payoh, Jalan Besar and Tanjong Pagar GRCs; as well as in Kebun Baru, Marymount, Potong Pasir, Radin Mas and Yio Chu Kang SMCs.
In his speech, PM Lee described CDCs and their councillors as a crucial bridge between residents and the Government.
“You are our eyes and ears on the ground, helping us identify where residents are under-served. You are also our hands and legs, mobilising the community, resources, partners, to implement programmes to bridge these gaps,” he said.
“By bringing together the community to take care of the vulnerable and needy, and to do good for others, CDCs help deepen our sense of responsibility for one another.
“This personal connection that you create, delivering government services with a human face and human touch, not only helps us to respond quickly and effectively to residents in times of need, but also to build the spirit of a caring society in Singapore.”
He praised the efforts of Ms Phua – mayor since 2014 – in setting up more than 50 wide-ranging community programmes, and in working with other CDCs to help the needy during the coronavirus pandemic, including through their Student Meals and Voucher schemes.
“Covid-19 or not, we need institutions like Central Singapore CDC, to help hold our society together, to help strengthen our bonds with one another, and set the right tone to want to help one another and care for each other,” said PM Lee, who is an Ang Mo Kio GRC MP.
One of the newly-appointed Central Singapore district councillors is Dr Noel Yeo, senior vice-president of operations at the Parkway hospitals group.
“While serving at Singapore’s frontlines against the Covid-19 pandemic, I personally experienced the fortitude, resilience and solidarity of our people,” he told The Straits Times. “This appointment is a timely opportunity for me to contribute more and learn how to better contribute, so that we can help the vulnerable and those in need.”
Ms Phua said the fallout from the pandemic meant the CDC model must remain relevant more than ever, in building up volunteer and donor networks to connect residents’ needs with resources.
Upcoming initiatives by Central Singapore CDC include job schemes, home improvement packages, mental health promotion, more financial support for those impacted by Covid-19, and lifelong learning programmes.
And the last of those is of particular interest to another fresh face among the district’s 62 councillors. Said Associate Professor Ethan Chong, who teaches systems engineering at the Singapore Institute of Technology: “As industries have been changing rapidly, learning new ways of doing things better is ideally an ongoing process for individuals.”
Ms Phua, who is a Jalan Besar GRC MP, also promised to continue paying close attention to the vulnerable in her district – the homeless, rough sleepers, cardboard collectors and others at risk of being left behind.
“We will do our part on the ground to reduce inequality, to raise inclusiveness and to inspire everyone we meet, to do something for the common good,” said Ms Phua.
CDCs were started in 1997 and fall under the People’s Association (PA) statutory board chaired by PM Lee.
PA deputy chairman and Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Chan Chun Sing was also present at the ceremony, along with Central Singapore CDC vice-chairmen and MPs Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC), Chong Kee Hiong and Saktiandi Supaat (both Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC).
Fellow parliamentarians Gan Siow Huang of Marymount SMC; Alvin Tan, Eric Chuaand Joan Pereira of Tanjong Pagar GRC; and Ng Ling Ling and Nada Samdin of Ang Mo Kio GRC also attended the event as council grassroots advisers.