We need more ways to settle disputes: Shanmugam

What is the best way to deal with neighbour disputes that turn ugly?

Although there are several avenues neighbours can take to settle their differences, they may not work for everybody, said Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam.

Commenting on a dispute in Chai Chee last Saturday in which a 41-year-old woman beat up her 65-year-old neighbour, Mr Shanmugam said that the "unfortunate event" illustrates the need for a proper framework to deal with such disputes.

He said: "What we have now are compulsory mediation sessions, provided both parties do it, and if that doesn't work, we are only left with the criminal law or with both parties suing each other.

"I have expressed the view in Parliament that this doesn't work for a lot of people.

"We have been working with other ministries to come up with a solution," said Mr Shanmugam, who is also an MP for Nee Soon GRC.

He was speaking to reporters at a ceremony in Sembawang on Wednesday night to mark the start of the 12-day celebration of the festival of the Nine Emperor Gods. Dozens of devotees had gathered at Sembawang Beach to welcome the Jiu Huang Ye, or Nine Emperor Gods.

Mr Eric Goh, 58, one of the volunteers leading the ritual, said it is an important event for many in the community.

This year, the festival took on a multi-racial and multi-religious approach with visits to other religious institutions, such as Indian temples.

One visitor to the Nine Emperor Gods Festival on Wednesday night was Mr Viknesh Kumar, 25, a Taoist who was at the festival to pray for his family.

He told The New Paper: "It is my first time here and I feel that coming to the ritual is a form of respect to the gods. I am praying for another safe year for my family."

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