Singapore PM: Worker upgrading an urgent issue for CDCs to focus on

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. — TODAY picSingapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. — TODAY picSINGAPORE, May 24 — Amid a restructuring economy, worker upgrading is an urgent issue for the Community Development Councils (CDCs) to focus on, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 

The five CDCs should urge people in their respective districts to adapt to the economic changes and to adopt lifelong learning. That would allow them to become more employable and create brighter prospects for their families, said Lee. 

Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony for the mayors today, Lee said that while the SkillsFuture initiative supported workers in upgrading, realising lifelong learning and constant upgrading required more than programmes and resources. 

“For many people it is also a mindset change. I hope CDCs will support the work of the Future Economy Council,” he said. 

The CDCs’ mission to “Assist the Needy”, “Bond the People”, and “Connect the Community” remains relevant, and they must continue to bridge the Government and residents, said Lee. 

He said: “Not just hands and legs on the ground to implement the programmes. But also eyes and ears to identity emerging needs and gaps in the current social and employment assistance systems and you need to be hearts and minds to come up with new ideas for tackling these issues and addressing residents’ concerns.”

Another priority for the CDCs would be to help drive the SGSecure movement, Lee highlighted.

Singapore is strong, only if community ties are close and people have mutual trust, despite their different backgrounds, ethnicity and faiths. Rapport also needs to be built between the community and public institutions, such as the Home Team and the People’s Association grassroots organisations, he said. 

SGSecure seeks to do this, and the CDCs will need to collaborate with OnePeople.SG, government agencies, grassroots organisations, community and corporate partners for this. 

“It is patient work which will take years, but it will pay off handsomely if ever we experience a terrorist attack like… in Manchester, or a civil emergency,” said Lee, referring to the incident where a suicide bomber had killed 22 people at a concert arena in Manchester earlier this week. 

In having volunteers involved in meaningful projects, the CDCs would be able to strengthen the gotong royong spirit, and grow and develop their team of volunteers, he added. 

During the ceremony, Low Yen Ling was reappointed Mayor of South West District, and named chairperson of Mayors’ Committee. Dr Maliki Osman, Dr Teo Ho Pin, Denise Phua were also reappointed as Mayors of the South East District, North West District and Central Singapore District respectively.

Desmond Choo took over from outgoing Mayor of the North East District Teo Ser Luck, who will be returning to the private sector. 

They will serve a three-year term till May 2020. 

In his speech, Lee thanked Teo for his contributions as mayor over the past eight years. Teo, he noted, had led the CDCs to develop flagship programmes including milk distribution to needy families, among others. — TODAY