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Residents want to be more involved in shaping community

By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia
27 January 2007 2113 hrs

SINGAPORE: Residents and youths want to be more involved in helping to shape their community.

This came across clearly during the first public dialogue session for the Forum on HDB Heartware, which was formed last November to gather feedback on how to strengthen bonds in the heartlands.

Some 200 residents from the central region spoke up on what it takes to forge community ties and improve their living environment.

And the youths were brimming with ideas.

They suggested having more open spaces for recreational purposes and facilities like barbeque pits to help foster interaction.

Some participants also wanted more transparency and asked that residents be kept in the loop.

Grace Fu, Minister of State, National Development, said: "I think many of them have voiced their desire to have a greater say in what kind of facilities they would like to have in their area, and we should take that into consideration. We should be mindful that residents should be consulted and the decision-making process itself should be explained to the residents."

The students were also keen to be more active in volunteer work like caring for the elderly.

Some also wanted to know if youths can play a role in the Residents' Committees.

Other topics discussed during the three-hour dialogue included how schools can cooperate with the community and whether grassroots members should be nominated by the residents.

One issue that got many participants talking is whether wet markets are still relevant as more people are doing their shopping at supermarkets due to shifts in demographics and changing lifestyle.

This is the first of a series of public dialogue sessions to be held between January and April this year.

And the panel, comprising mostly MPs, expects the sessions to offer a lot of frank feedback.

"We need to come back and look at the results carefully, and review our policies and our programmes specifically with the feedback that we've got. Then we will make recommendations as a report from the committee on the forum," said Ms Fu.

The next dialogue will be held on February 10 for residents living in the North. - CNA/so