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PM Lee: CDCs must continue to be bridge between residents and Government

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Prime Minister Lee says Community Development Councils must focus on helping residents upgrade skills

During the 2008 global financial crisis, Community Development Councils (CDCs) handed out relief packages with food and transport vouchers to residents hit by the economic slump.

Today, as the economy restructures, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hopes CDCs can again help residents, this time to embrace lifelong learning and upgrade their skills to be more employable. The councils can also work with other groups to support the SGSecure movement, which aims to prepare people to deal with a crisis.

"It is patient work which will take years, but it will pay off handsomely if ever we experience a terrorist attack, like this most recent one in Manchester, or a civil emergency," Mr Lee said yesterday.

He was speaking at the swearing-in ceremony for mayors helming the five CDCs, held in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of CDCs, at the People's Association headquarters in Jalan Besar.

CDCs were set up in 1997 to strengthen community bonds, and were initially focused on social and employment assistance.

Over the years, they have responded to other crises, Mr Lee noted. He cited the 2003 Sars outbreak, when they delivered meals to patients quarantined at home.

The CDCs' ABC mission set out 10 years ago - assist the needy, bond people and connect the community - remains relevant, said Mr Lee.

"CDCs must continue to be a bridge between residents and the Government," he said.

"Not just hands and legs on the ground to implement the programmes, but also eyes and ears to identify emerging needs in the current social and employment assistance systems."

On upgrading of skills, Mr Lee hoped CDCs can foster a mindset change and support the work of the Future Economy Council by encouraging residents to adapt to changes in the economy.

As for SGSecure, he said CDCs can work with groups to deepen ties so that the society stays united in a crisis.

Yesterday, four mayors - Dr Maliki Osman, Dr Teo Ho Pin, Ms Denise Phua and Ms Low Yen Ling - were reappointed.

Ms Low, who is South West District mayor, was also appointed coordinator for the CDCs.

A new mayor is Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo, who will helm North East CDC. He replaces Mr Teo Ser Luck, who steps down as mayor tomorrow to return to the private sector. Mr Teo is also Minister of State for Manpower until June 30.

Mr Choo said he will build on the foundation Mr Teo built.

He also said that he intends to tap his network in the labour movement, where he is director of NTUC's Youth Development Unit, to bring businesses and residents together and ensure better job placements.

The appointments take effect on Saturday.

Mayors look at broader issues that affect a district, which spans several constituencies.

Said Dr Maliki, South East District mayor: "We do the planning, harness the resources and help the local MPs administer these programmes."


Lee Hsien LoongCOMMUNITY ISSUESEconomy