First Residents' Network to serve Canberra HDB, private residents

(Seated, from left) Sembawang GRC MPs Vikram Nair, Lim Wee Kiak, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Senior Parliamentary Secretary Amrin Amin, and grassroots leader Markus Koo, trying out a swing at the Canberra Day 2019 carnival for residents yester
(Seated, from left) Sembawang GRC MPs Vikram Nair, Lim Wee Kiak, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Senior Parliamentary Secretary Amrin Amin, and grassroots leader Markus Koo, trying out a swing at the Canberra Day 2019 carnival for residents yesterday. The Canberra SkyLife Residents' Network will serve residents of the Parc Life and SkyPark Residences executive condominiums, as well as the Sun Breeze HDB estate, all of which are in Sembawang Crescent.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The Canberra ward of Sembawang is the first in Singapore to get a Residents' Network (RN), a new grassroots organisation that aims to serve people living in new private estates as well as public housing.

The Canberra SkyLife RN will serve residents of the Parc Life and SkyPark Residences executive condominiums, as well as the Sun Breeze Housing Board development, all of which are located in Sembawang Crescent.

Sembawang GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak announced the RN yesterday during the ninth annual Canberra Day celebrations, a community carnival for local residents.

Currently, HDB estates are served by Residents' Committees (RCs), which were introduced in 1978, while Neighbourhood Committees (NCs) were launched in 1998 to serve private estates.

There are currently 654 RCs and 215 NCs islandwide, with both organising community activities to encourage neighbourliness.

They also serve as a bridge between residents and the Government by collecting and passing feedback on the ground to government agencies to follow up on.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first announced the formation of Residents' Networks last year.

 
 

PM Lee, who is also the chairman of the People's Association, said at the time that the change is aimed at making the grassroots network more effective as well as strengthening social cohesion.

Existing RCs and NCs have the option of continuing as they are or rebranding themselves as RNs.

Meanwhile, neighbouring RCs and NCs can also choose to merge into a single RN.

Dr Lim, who is vice-chairman of the Sembawang Town Council, described the difference between RCs and NCs as an artificial barrier that separates residents.

He noted that HDB and executive condominium residents in the area - which has a combined 2,300 households - support the idea of RNs. "This segregation is not real," he said. "Residents from all walks of life, regardless of housing type, should have a common platform to interact."

Canberra Skylife RN's chairman, Dr Sivakumar Viswanathan, 50, said the new network is able to engage more residents, noting that the area includes rental flats as well. "The work is more meaningful now," said the grassroots leader of nine years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2019, with the headline 'First Residents' Network to serve Canberra HDB, private residents'. Print Edition | Subscribe