Front-line officers in public agencies receive training on how to handle angry people

Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong at an appreciation dinner at Suntec City Convention Centre, on Oct 5, 2018.
Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong at an appreciation dinner at Suntec City Convention Centre, on Oct 5, 2018.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA
Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong (centre) at a Community Mediation Centre appreciation dinner at Suntec City Convention Centre on Oct 5, 2018.
Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong (centre) at a Community Mediation Centre appreciation dinner at Suntec City Convention Centre on Oct 5, 2018.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Front-line officers in government agencies are being taught to use basic mediation techniques to defuse disputes when they encounter angry members of the public.

More than 300 officers from such agencies as the Housing Board and the Singapore Police Force have been trained, since May last year, by an expert from the Community Mediation Centre (CMC), which provides mediation services for the public.

"This has been helpful for front-line officers who deal with a multitude of such cases from local residents... they help to resolve conflicts and nip it in the bud before it escalates into something more serious," said Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong on Friday (Oct 5), at a CMC event.

The centre, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, has 153 volunteer mediators who help with about 500 disputes every year. Mediators successfully resolve, on average, about 75 per cent of these disputes.

Most of them were between neighbours fighting over such issues as noise, abusive language or harassment, the CMC said.

The service it provides is accredited internationally, with the CMC being recognised as a Qualifying Assessment Programme (QAP) by the Singapore International Mediation Institute, Mr Tong said.

"The recognition of the CMC as QAP gives recognition to the quality of the CMC's services and also the skills and standards of our mediators," said Mr Tong.

It is also an affirmation of the centre's good work, said volunteer mediator Krishna Veerappen, 82.

The centre has played an important role in helping to bring communities together, by getting different parties to work out their differences and understand each other better, said Mr Krishna.

"We're being recognised for it now, which is a very good sign," he added.