Families settle curry dispute, not mediators

By Karen W Lim

Two families' dispute over the cooking of curry became an overnight online furore after local freesheet Today highlighted a story on neighbour disputes on August 8.

It attracted so much attention that Law Minister K Shanmugam himself came out to clarify that the solution had been agreed to by the families involved in the controversy and not the mediator.

Speaking at a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this afternoon, Mr Shanmugam explained that the role of the mediator is to provide a neutral and non-confrontational platform for disputing families to air their grouses - it is totally consensual and the outcome is not imposed by the mediator or the law.

The recent 'curry controversy' broke when it was reported that a family who had moved here from China objected to the smell of curry-cooking from their Indian neighbour, which escalated into a feud.

It was reported that mediation resulted in the Indian family agreeing to cook curry only when the Chinese family were not home.

Netizens reacted angrily and slammed the outcome as "unfair" and felt that the mediator was insensitive to Singapore's multi-racial and multi-cultural society. 

However, Mr Shanmugam clarified that the outcome of the dispute, which happened over six to seven years ago, was the result of an agreement between the two families and was voluntary. The outcome was neither imposed nor enforced.

It is also not the Community Mediation Centre's (CMC) role to point out whether an agreement is reasonable or not. The solution must also be provided by the disputing parties themselves.

From the Ministry's understanding, one family had proposed for the solution of not cooking curry when the Chinese family was home and the other family accepted. However, it is not known which family made the suggestion.

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