New Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin aims to foster caring society

NEW Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said yesterday he plans to foster a caring society, by building on the work of his predecessor Chan Chun Sing.

People in social service have hailed the changes made by Mr Chan as ground-breaking, for building up the sector's capacity and letting social workers help even more needy families.

In his Facebook post yesterday, Mr Tan said: "Nurturing a strong and caring society is important as we look out for those who need the additional helping hand....


"If we can become a nation that cares for others and those around us, we can be that great nation," he said.

His appointment comes as part of Cabinet changes announced yesterday.

Mr Tan entered politics in 2011 and has helmed the Manpower Ministry as well as been senior minister of state for national development.

He will relinquish his position as Manpower Minister to Mr Lim Swee Say on May 4.

Mr Tan takes over a social service sector that has gone through major shifts in the past four years, initiated by Mr Chan.

Singapore Children's Society executive director Alfred Tan highlighted the setting up of Social Service Offices (SSOs) as a key improvement.

The task of the SSOs is to administer financial aid to needy families. In doing so, they free social workers to focus on ways to fix problems such as mental health or family issues.

Chief executive of Marine Parade Family Service Centre Samuel Ng said the initiatives have built up the sector's capabilities and made it more professional.

"Many of us feel the overall direction is very positive, and we hope the new minister will take us to the next lap," he added.

Political watchers and social service players said Mr Tan is well placed for the job, having cut his teeth in the Manpower Ministry helping workers in an increasingly difficult environment.

Law don Eugene Tan, a former Nominated MP said that naming Mr Tan, one of the fourth-generation political leaders, to head the ministry shows the Government's recognition that social issues are inter-connected and increasingly important to Singaporeans.

Ms Denise Phua, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Social and Family Development, said: "Although Mr Tan does not have deep prior experience in the social service sector, he has in the past shown interest and a lot of support to the sector's beneficiaries and volunteer worker organisations."

For Mr Tan from the Singapore Children's Society, it is the new minister's "passion to help people" that is key.

"We've had the opportunity to work with him on youth issues, and I can see Mr Tan is someone who's very passionate about helping young people and low-income families. This is a very important criterion for someone who is MSF minister," he said.

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