Community leaders play vital role amid downturn: Iswaran

Community leaders have an important role to play in raising awareness among residents about where job and skill opportunities are available.

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said this in response to a question from a participant during a virtual dialogue with the People's Association Indian Activity Executive Committees Council (Narpani Pearavai) yesterday.

When asked about the current unemployment rate and how grassroots leaders can help those in need during the pandemic, he said: "Giving our people a sense of confidence that we can overcome this, we can do well, and helping them have the right attitude about it, is key. I think as community leaders, all of us have an important role to play here."

In his introductory address to the participants, he touched on the economic effect of the pandemic globally and in Singapore, and said that while some industries had been severely affected, there were opportunities in sectors such as information and communications technology, healthcare and education.

Mr Iswaran was joined at the nearly two-hour-long session by Senior Minister of State for Health and Communications and Information, Dr Janil Puthucheary, who is also an adviser to Narpani Pearavai.

The dialogue, attended by about 200 participants from Indian organisations and grassroots volunteers, was convened to let community leaders share their ideas and views on recent developments in Singapore and seek clarifications from the two panellists, Mr Iswaran and Dr Janil.

In response to a question on assistance for retired senior citizens affected by Covid-19, Dr Janil said it was important to ensure their costs in areas such as healthcare, transport and housing do not rise.

Replying to another question on post-pandemic education in Singapore, he said: "What we have seen in the last few years is an increasing link between industry and our education space. That has served us well in the past and is likely to serve us well in the future."

In his concluding remarks, Mr Iswaran touched on the importance of maintaining harmony and rejecting divisive thinking during an economic downturn.

"We want to make sure that Singaporeans do well, thrive and take full advantage of opportunities, but we also want to make sure that we stay open as a country so that we can continue to benefit from the contributions of those who are coming here because they want to be part of us and contribute to the growth of Singapore."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2020, with the headline Community leaders play vital role amid downturn: Iswaran. Subscribe