People's Association


People's Association

The People's Association (abbreviation: PA; Chinese: 人民协会) is a statutory board of the Government of Singapore under the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, with the primary aim of building social cohesion and fostering interactions and bonds between itself and society at large. This is done by tapping on traditional notions of "community leaders" and the assistance of community volunteers to form a network of organisations and physical facilities to provide venues for interactions and as accessible sources for community services.

History

To counter racial and political tensions in Singapore during the 1950s and 1960s, and foster closer ties among different ethnic groups,cite web|title=History of PA|url=http://www.pa.gov.sg/1153988278915/1153988278958.html|publisher=People's Association|date=2006-08-05|accessdate=2007-08-26] the Government established the PA through an Act of Parliament, the People's Association Act.People's Association Act 1960 (Ordinance No. 35 of 1960), now the Singapore Statute|title=People's Association Act|c
ed=2000
.] The statutory board came into being on 1 July 1960. According to the Act, the objects of the PA are, among other things: [People's Association Act, above, ss. 8(a)–(c).]

(a) the organisation and the promotion of group participation in social, cultural, educational and athletic activities for the people of Singapore in order that they may realise that they belong to a multiracial community, the interests of which transcend sectional loyalties;

(b) the establishment of such institutions as may be necessary for the purpose of leadership training in order to instil in leaders a sense of national identity and a spirit of dedicated service to a multiracial community;

(c) the fostering of community bonding and strengthening of social cohesion amongst the people of Singapore...

The PA endeavours to achieve its objects by creating common space; bringing people of different ethnic origins and from all walks of life together to interact, make friends, help one another and to participate in social, cultural, educational, recreational, sporting and charitable activities, and in doing so strengthen community spirit and resilience. Starting with 28 community centres, today the PA has over 1,800 grassroots organisations (GROs) with more than 25,000 volunteer grassroots leaders. The GROs include Citizens' Consultative Committees, Community Club Management Committees, Residents' Committees in public housing estates and Neighbourhood Committees in private housing estates.

Citizens' Consultative Committees

The Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC) is the apex grassroots organisation in a constituency. In the face of serious political, social, economic and racial riots that Singapore faced in the early 1960s, the Government established the CCCs in 1965 to foster national consensus and to maintain racial harmony.

The CCC is responsible for planning and leading grassroots activities. It also oversees the welfare of the needy, and serves as a channel for communication between the people and the Government. The CCC identifies and recommends the development of public amenities and facilities.

The functions of the Committee are:(a) to promote good citizenship among residents in the Constituency;(b) to disseminate information and channel feedback on governmentpolicies and actions from residents in the Constituency;2(c) to lead and co-ordinate projects and activities at theconstituency and national levels; and(d) to recommend to the Community Improvement Projects Committee toprovide amenities and facilities in the Constituency.

Community Clubs

When self-government was attained in 1959, many Singaporeans were faced with poor employment prospects and had little opportunity for skills training. Recreational, social and sports facilities were few and far in between.

The PA converted former food distribution centres set up by the British administration into community centres. These centres were venues for residents of all walks of life to get together to learn a skill, engage in social and leisure activities, and forge a sense of community.

Over the years, with economic progress, community centres have evolved into Community Clubs (CCs) offering a wide range of courses, activities, programmes and facilities to match the changing needs of residents. Even as the exterior façade changes, the CCs remain a common space for residents of all backgrounds to come together, interact and strengthen social cohesion and racial harmony.

The Community Clubs are run by a group of volunteers called CC Management Committee. The functions of the Committee are:(a) to manage the Community Centre/Club for and on behalf of thePeople's Association;2(b) to promote social, cultural, educational, sports and recreationalactivities for the residents in the neighbourhood of the CommunityCentre/Club;(c) to disseminate information on Government policies, and totransmit to the Government information on the needs andaspirations of the residents in the neighbourhood of the CommunityCentre/Club; and(d) to promote good citizenship among residents in the neighbourhoodof the Community Centre/Club.

Residents' Committees

Residents' Committees (RCs) were formed in 1978 to promote neighbourliness and harmony in public housing estates. RCs also serve as channels of communication between residents and the Government. RCs, like CCCs, initially came under the Prime Minister's Office, and later, the Ministry of Community Development. In 1993, RCs and CCCs came under the purview of the PA. Currently, there are over 550 RCs. Each RC has an RC Centre to conduct meetings and programmes and activities for residents. RCs organise residents' parties, conduct house visits and other neighbourhood activities to reach out to residents. They also work closely with the government agencies to improve the living environment, safety and security of their estates.

Run by volunteers, the functions of the Residents' Committee are :(a) to promote neighbourliness, harmony and cohesiveness among theresidents of the Designated Zone;(b) to liaise with and make recommendations to governmentalauthorities on the needs and aspirations of residents of theDesignated Zone;(c) to disseminate information and channel feedback on governmentpolicies and actions from residents of the Designated Zone; and2(d) to promote good citizenship among residents of the DesignatedZone.

Community Development Councils

First established in 1997, [http://www.cdc.org.sg Community Development Councils (CDCs)] were formed to help build a more cohesive, compassionate and self-reliant society. Initially, the CDCs offered local programmes to meet the needs of the residents in their districts. From 2001, the delivery of social services, including the development of childcare, student care and family care centres was devolved from the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports to the CDCs. As CDCs are closer to the ground, they are better able than government ministries to promptly address the needs of residents. The CDCs also play an important role in mobilising the community to help needy residents, including giving them interim financial assistance and helping them find jobs.

Each of the current five CDCs – [http://www.centralsingaporecdc.org.sg Central Singapore] , [http://www.northeastcdc.org.sg North East] , [http://www.northwestcdc.org.sg North West] , [http://www.southeastcdc.org.sg South East] and [http://www.southwestcdc.org.sg South West] – is headed by a mayor who is assisted by a council comprising up to 80 council members. Unlike other countries, mayors in Singapore are not directly elected because the CDCs are not a system of local government. The CDCs are local administrators of community and social services.

Management

According to the People's Association Act, the Association consists of: [People's Association Act, above, ss. 4(1)(a)–(d).]

#the Prime Minister, who is Chairman of the Association;
#a Minister (typically a senior member of Cabinet) who is to be appointed by the Chairman as Deputy Chairman;
#eight other members to be appointed by the Chairman; and
#one member to be appointed by the Chairman in consultation with each of the organisations mentioned in the First Schedule to the Act. More than 80 civic organisations are listed in the First Schedule, ranging from the Football Association of Singapore, to the National University of Singapore Society, to the Singapore Stamp Club. [These organisations are also listed on the PA's website: see cite web|title=PA Corporate Members|url=http://www.pa.gov.sg/1153988278915/1173593874350.html|publisher=People's Association|date=2007-08-26|accessdate=2007-08-26]

The powers of the PA and the management and control of the Association and its property and affairs is vested in a Board of Management. [People's Association Act, above, s. 3.] The Board consists of the persons mentioned in the first three categories listed above, and four members who are elected from among themselves by the persons mentioned in the fourth category at a general meeting of the Association. [People's Association Act, above, s. 5(1).]

Institutions and facilities

In addition to its network of grassroots organisations, the PA also operates Outward Bound Singapore, the National Community Leadership Institute, the National Youth Council of Singapore and the Social Development Service, and a water sport club called Water-Venture.

PA Talents

PA Talents is an umbrella group for more than 300 part-time musicians and dancers performing traditional, ethnic art forms. Its objective is to promote racial harmony and social cohesion through cross-cultural appreciation of music and dance. In 2006, Cultural Medallion recipient Dick Lee was appointed its creative director.cite news|last=Chia|first=Adeline|title=How PA Talents Came to Be|publisher="The Straits Times (Life!)"|date=2007-08-23|page=2] [cite news|last=Chia|first=Adeline|title=PA Swings to Pop|publisher="The Straits Times (Life!)"|date=2007-08-23|page=2]

Formerly known as the PA Cultural Talents, it was set up in 1965 as a performing unit with full-time performers to bring arts and cultural performances to the masses by performing in community centres. It was one of the first groups in Singapore to create multi-ethnic performances in the early 1980s. In 1997, following a strategic review, the group ceased having full-time performers due to limited resources and now relies on a pool of part-timers.

PA Talents consists of ten groups: five orchestras (Orkestra Melayu Singapura, the PA Youth Chinese Orchestra, the Singapore Indian Orchestra and Choir, the Singapore Pipe Band and the Singapore Pop Orchestra), and five dance groups (the Chinese, Indian, Malay and Modern Dance Groups, and a hip-hop club). About a hunded performances are staged each year in national and grassroots shows such as the National Day Parade and Chingay Parade, in commercial shows for corporations, and in cultural and diplomatic events in Singapore and abroad.

Notes

External links

* [http://www.pa.gov.sg/ Official website of the People's Association]
* [http://www.lifeskillslifestyle.org.sg/patalents/index.asp Official website of PA Talents]


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