DPM Teo Chee Hean's speech from the official launch of the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre on 20 Nov 2017.
Mr Chua Thian Poh and Mrs Chua,
Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office, Manpower and Foreign Affairs Mr Sam Tan,
NUS Chairman Mr Hsieh Fu Hua,
NUS Provost Professor Tan Eng Chye,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Congratulations on the opening of the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre. This is an important initiative for community leadership development in Singapore. Our community leaders play important roles to strengthen the bonds and trust among communities and build a caring and inclusive society. In our early years, community leaders helped to look after the less-advantaged and needy in society, build important civic institutions such as mutual help groups and inter-religious organisations, care for the sick, and support education. This played a very important role in social bonding, building trust and resourcing our community, and helped to bring our whole country and society together, to make sure that everyone in Singapore has a place in our society.
The work of community building is never done. We need to grow a new generation of community leaders – to continue the work of the pioneers, and to tackle new challenges so that we continue to build the sense of togetherness and trust among all of us in society. That will help prevent fault lines from forming due to social, racial or religious issues. We have seen this happen in many other countries, where specific groups and parts of the community, feel dis-enfranchised. Once fault lines develop, they become very difficult to breach, and affects the well-being of society.
The Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme conducted at the National University of Singapore since 2011 has benefited close to 350 undergraduates and 90 partnering organisations. About 114 fellows have completed the programme, and acquired practical knowledge and skills on community development and leadership. These community leaders are now active in leading community groups and engaging residents on their specific needs. Many graduates have partnered social service organisations to create social programmes and interventions that have made a positive impact on the lives of many Singaporeans and their families.
We were discussing earlier with Mr Chua and the students themselves, that it is not just being interested. It is also whether the students have the guidance and the perspective to turn their initial interest into something which is positive and constructive, and contributes to the individuals that they are working with, as well as the larger social good. Sometimes, we can be so convinced that what we are working on should be prioritised, and lose sight of who are other partners in the community whom we can bring together.
The initial $5 million pledged by Mr Chua Thian Poh in 2011 has enabled meaningful workshops and programmes on community development to be carried out. This year, the new pledge of $5 million by Mr Chua will help develop the Community Leadership Centre, a physical centre which will continue to support programme development on community leadership. This new pledge will also allow the programme to double its student intake from about 40 to 80 students, provide more resources for social research projects and encourage greater collaboration with social service organisations in Singapore.
With the expansion of the programme, more youths will have the opportunity to develop their interest and passion to serve, exchange experiences, acquire new skills and contribute to community development. This will help develop a strong pipeline of community leaders who can help build a caring and inclusive society. These are the real strengths that have allowed us as a country to develop and grow as one. These are real strengths that we need to continue to develop and nurture into the future.
I would like to thank Mr Chua Thian Poh for his generosity and wish the Community Leadership Centre every success. Thank you very much.
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