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PA has vetting processes in place for appointment of Grassroots Leaders

Response to parliamentary question on the vetting process for Grassroots Leaders to ensure they are not susceptible to foreign influence

Oral PQ 5749. Mr Yip Hon Weng: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) how are potential grassroots leaders, key appointment holders and patrons vetted to ensure they are not susceptible to foreign influence; (b) whether there are regular review processes in place after appointment to identify and address potential vulnerabilities; (c) whether citizens born or educated outside Singapore are subject to more stringent vetting criteria; and (d) how are grassroots members empowered to critically evaluate information and resist undue foreign influence, especially from social media.

  1. An important part of the People's Association (PA)'s mission is to foster social cohesion and racial harmony and build a strong and resilient community. To achieve this, grassroots leaders, or GRLs, volunteer with PA, to help PA with its mission. GRLs come from all walks of life, representing a diverse cross section of our society. They volunteer their time, effort and resources to serve Singaporeans and make Singapore a better home for all.
  2. GRLs also help the Government communicate policies to residents and receive feedback. This helps Singapore's interests. To fulfil this role, it is important that GRLs can discern information from misinformation and are able to critically evaluate information that they receive, including from social media sources. PA supports GRLs in this role by regularly sharing key information on Government policies, with regular dialogues, both formal as well as informal, held with GRLs on national and local issues. This also includes open discussions at regular Grassroots Organisations (GRO) meetings so that GRLs better understand the intent of various Government initiatives. In addition, the National Community Leadership Institute, or NACLI, conducts workshops to equip GRLs with the knowledge and skills to identify and manage misinformation.
  3. As leaders in the community, GRLs are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that befits their standing and role in the community, and also to act in Singapore's interests.
  4. There are sound processes and due diligence in place when appointing and re-appointing GRLs, regardless of their background, to ensure that they are able to carry out the above duties. We constantly review the appointment system to ensure that there is sufficient rigour.
  5. For instance, before GRLs join GROs and are appointed to leadership positions, they first serve as observers for a period of time. This is an opportunity for them to be given direct and hands-on exposure to grassroots work, but also an opportunity for PA to observe them and assess their suitability for appointment into GROs as full-fledged GRLs.
  6. We endeavour to make the best judgment of a person before deciding to appoint him or her as a GRL, with the appointment and vetting processes in place. But even the most rigorous checks cannot preclude the possibility of the person subsequently behaving in an unbefitting manner or discovering a hitherto unknown fact or circumstance. Where such facts are brought to PA's attention, we will take immediate action to reassess the person's suitability to continue as a GRL and revoke the GRL appointment if necessary. 
Last updated on 27 February 2024