Meet people's changing needs, PM tells mayors

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday called on Singapore's five mayors to intensify their efforts and "use the next few years well" to meet the changing needs of the people.

These new demands include the needs of the rising number of elders who live alone or only with their spouses, as well as integrating newcomers into the society.

"I urge you to use the next few years well. Lead the CDCs (community development councils) to meet changing needs," he said yesterday at the swearing-in ceremony for the mayors. His call to the mayors comes amid the Government's greater emphasis on the population's social needs in this second half of its five-year term.

The mayors are in charge of the five CDCs, whichlead and coordinate grassroots organisations. But more importantly, they play a leading role in helping the Government implement policies better on the ground. One new area he cited is the upcoming social services offices, which are one-stop help centres for residents seeking social and financial aid.

CDCs can help build up these offices meant to "help Singaporeans navigate through the 'kueh lapis' of government assistance programmes", Mr Lee said, referring to the many layers of help available for needy Singaporeans.

"Use your knowledge and networks to help the (offices) start off on the right foot, and strike the right balance between administrative efficiency and the personal touch," he told the mayors.

Mr Lee also wants the CDCs to do more to involve the private sector, by championing corporate social responsibility or encouraging companies to adopt local causes.

"The Government cannot and should not do everything," he said, urging the mayors to "marshal resources in the wider community", including voluntary welfare organisations and volunteers.

"The CDCs are crucial too in working with other government agencies to identify emerging needs and issues," he said.

At the event, the Prime Minister, who is chairman of the People's Association, appointed two new mayors: Ms Low Yen Ling, mayor of South West District, and Ms Denise Phua, mayor of Central Singapore District. They replace Senior Minister of State Amy Khor and Minister of State Sam Tan, who stepped down to focus on new responsibilities in the Health Ministry and Prime Minister's Office, respectively.

The rest were reappointed: Dr Teo Ho Pin, Mr Teo Ser Luck and Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman. Dr Teo takes over from Dr Khor as the mayors' committee chairman.

This article was first published on June 21, 2014.
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