Dr Shahira Abdullah: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth whether there are plans and measures in place in private properties to ensure that individuals living in community enclaves are exposed to neighbours from other communities of varied socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities.
Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law:
- Individuals and their families, whether residing in private properties or HDBs, are a part of a wider community in the neighbourhood. Our infrastructure agencies have designed common spaces – from parks and fitness facilities, to hawker centres and community clubs – that allow residents from all walks of life and demographic profiles to interact.
- Community programming is another important avenue to bring different communities together, through common interests and causes. The People's Association Residents’ Network creates platforms to promote neighbourliness and encourage social mixing of residents across public and private housing estates. The Residents’ Network, which was set up in 2018, erases the distinction between Residents’ Committees, which served HDB estates, and Neighbourhood Committees, which served private estates. The Residents’ Networks encourage residents from the HDB and private estates to mix more freely with one another and participate in community activities together. For instance, the Residents’ Networks from Zhenghua-Blossom Palmview and Toa Payoh Central Zone 6 regularly organise activities for the community, and it is not uncommon to see residents from private estates visit their Residents’ Network centres located at the HDB blocks. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Residents’ Networks continued to conduct virtual and hybrid bonding activities such as terrarium workshops, photography competitions and New Year celebrations for residents across the different estate types.
- In addition, the People’s Association also has about 1,400 Integration and Naturalisation Champions reaching out to new immigrants in all neighbourhoods to help them settle into the community. They regularly conduct house visits and invite new immigrants to join grassroots activities to expand their social networks and connect with locals.
- Meanwhile, the SG Cares movement is establishing Volunteer Centres in every town to grow town-based volunteerism. By bringing together diverse volunteers – students, working adults, retirees, locals, foreigners – to support the needs of the local community, the Volunteer Centres also facilitate social mixing.
- All residents living in the same neighbourhood – whether in public housing or private estates – can participate in these programmes. Residents who live in private estates may not always be aware of these programmes and there is more we can do to publicise these opportunities. I strongly urge and encourage everyone to actively participate in these activities, regardless of whether you live in a public or private estate. In these difficult times, when many may feel isolated and alone, it is good for all of us to reach out and connect with the people around us.