East Coast Conversation debuts with virtual dialogue

East Coast GRC MPs (from left) Tan Kiat How, Jessica Tan, Heng Swee Keat, Maliki Osman and Cheryl Chan during the East Coast Conversation. PHOTO: HENG SWEE KEAT/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Making the East Coast greener and setting up support groups for residents were among the ideas mooted at the first East Coast Conversation, which took place online on Saturday (Sept 5).

More than 100 residents in the constituency took part, along with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and the GRC's four other MPs.

These monthly conversations, modelled after the Our Singapore Conversation series, were first announced in July during the general election campaign.

The platform is meant to give East Coast residents a space to discuss the issues that matter to them and work together to put their ideas into action.

In Saturday's discussion, residents explored how neighbours could look out for each other. Forming support groups for caregivers to share their common challenges was suggested.

Others proposed setting up art installations in the neighbourhoods to make them more vibrant, and drawing up a schedule of events in which residents could participate.

To turn East Coast greener, some suggested recruiting a crew of "green ambassadors" to help raise awareness of environmental issues.

In a Facebook post on Saturday night, Mr Heng wrote that the session was insightful, with several useful and creative suggestions on how residents can take action and make a difference in simple ways.

"Collectively, these Conversations will enable residents to come together, working with community partners to generate good ideas and to turn these ideas into action," he added.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and the National Development Ministry Tan Kiat How, who is also an MP for the GRC, added that he was heartened to see that many residents wanted to step forward to realise the ideas discussed.

"We look forward to working with our residents to make East Coast a special and extraordinary home for everyone," he said.

Ms Rianne Goh, who was one of the facilitators for Saturday's conversation, said it took some time for residents to warm up to one another.

"But once someone started sharing, the ideas started flowing."

The 19-year-old added: "Through the discussions, we hope that residents will have a deeper sense that they have a stake in the community and that there are avenues for them to reach out and contribute their valuable time and skills."

Mr Heng added that the East Coast Silver Blueprint, which aims to address seniors' physical, social, emotional and digital needs, will be unveiled next weekend.

The next conversation on building a dementia-friendly community will be held on Oct 24.

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