CDCs must stay relevant now more than ever: Mayor Denise Phua

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mayor of Central Singapore District Ms Denise Phua and People's Association deputy chairman Chan Chun Sing in the centre of this Zoom "group photo", alongside grassroots advisers and district councillors for Central Singapore Community Development Council. PHOTO: CENTRAL SINGAPORE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL

SINGAPORE - Amid the travails of Singapore's drawn-out battle against the Covid-19 pandemic this year, there emerged a silver lining for Dr Noel Yeo.

As senior vice-president at Parkway Pantai, he was in the thick of various operations, including the transfer of patients to the four private hospitals in the Parkway chain, to free up public facilities.

On Tuesday (Nov 24), he was one of 20 new district councillors appointed to the Central Singapore Community Development Council (CDC).

Speaking after the virtual ceremony to mark the appointments, Dr Yeo said: "While serving at Singapore's front lines, I experienced the fortitude, resilience and solidarity of our people.

"This appointment is a timely opportunity for me to contribute more and learn how to better contribute, so that we can help the vulnerable and those in need."

The fallout from the pandemic also means the CDC model, more than ever, must remain relevant, to build up volunteer and donor networks to link up the needs of residents' with resources, said Central Singapore district mayor Denise Phua.

Ms Phua, who is an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, also spoke about more community-level "alliances for action".

At the event on Tuesday, another 42 councillors were reappointed to Central Singapore CDC for a new term of office that started on July 27 and will run for three years.

Ms Phua called on all 62 councillors to be closely involved in upcoming initiatives by Central Singapore CDC, such as job schemes, mental health promotion, lifelong learning programmes and more financial support for those impacted by Covid-19.

Another fresh face among the district's councillors said he is keen to lend his support in the area of lifelong learning, among other things.

Associate Professor Ethan Chong, who teaches systems engineering at the Singapore Institute of Technology, said: "As industries have been changing rapidly, learning new ways of doing things better is ideally an ongoing process for individuals."

Ms Phua said she will continue to pay attention to the vulnerable in her district, including the homeless, rough sleepers and cardboard collectors. "We will do our part on the ground to reduce inequality, to raise inclusiveness and to inspire everyone we meet, to do something for the common good," she said.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was guest of honour at the event, said CDCs and their councillors are a crucial bridge between residents and the Government.

Mr Lee, who is also an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said: "You are our eyes and ears on the ground, helping us identify where residents are under-served. You are also our hands and legs, mobilising the community, resources, partners, to implement programmes to bridge these gaps.

"This personal connection that you create, delivering government services with a human face and human touch, not only helps us to respond quickly and effectively to residents in times of need, but also to build the spirit of a caring society in Singapore."

PM Lee praised the efforts of Ms Phua - mayor since 2014 - in setting up over 50 wide-ranging community programmes, and for working with other CDCs to help the needy during the pandemic, including through the Student Meals and Voucher schemes.

He said: "Covid-19 or not, we need institutions like Central Singapore CDC to help hold our society together... and set the right tone to want to help one another."

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