Nee Soon GRC to get mediation club to help residents resolve conflicts between neighbours

Dr Lee Bee Wah speaking to grassroots leaders after the mediation training.
Dr Lee Bee Wah speaking to grassroots leaders after the mediation training.ST PHOTO: FELICIA CHOO

SINGAPORE - Nee Soon group representation constituency (GRC) will be the first constituency here to get its own mediation club within the year.

This is part of a tie-up with non-profit organisation International Institute of Mediators (Singapore) (iiM).

The club, which is open to any grassroots leader and resident interested in conflict resolution, will promote the settling of disputes in a more amicable manner, said Ms Lee Bee Wah, MP for Nee Soon GRC.

Ms Lee said that disputes with neighbours are common and that "we are living in a very condensed environment", citing examples of disputes over noise and second-hand smoke.

"What we hope is that if both parties are willing, and they want to continue to live in the community, perhaps mediation will lead to a better outcome than (taking the legal route)," she said.

Ms Lee was speaking to the media on Sunday (April 22), after a mediation training was conducted for about 100 grassroots leaders by iiM.

The four-hour training, which taught participants how to resolve conflicts using mediation and other informal ways, was held at the Nee Soon South Community Club.

Grassroots leaders already receive in-house mediation training, but this session and the new club will help to further their skills, said Ms Lee.

Members of the club will be able to participate in group discussions, workshops and conferences on conflict resolution, as well as an essay competition to encourage members to share experiences of conflicts between neighbours.

Some basic mediation skills are listening well, knowing when to question the parties involved and using body language effectively, said iiM president, Dr Lim Lan Yuan.

He added that the organisation is working to expand the training to other constituencies, such as the Sembawang GRC and West Coast GRC.

Grassroots leader Lai Wee Yeong, 35, who attended the mediation training, plans to join the club when it opens.

"A lot of times when we encounter disagreements between residents, there's a need for a neutral third party because, usually, their first reaction is to go to the authorities, which may make things very bad," said the teacher, who has volunteered as a grassroots leader for less than a year.