Ethnic self-help groups relevant as Singapore raises socio-economic levels: PM Lee
SINGAPORE: Singapore’s four ethnic Self Help Groups (SHGs) are still relevant as the country continues to raise socio-economic levels and provide opportunities for all, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (18 september).
Speaking at an event marking the 30th anniversary of the China Council for Development Assistance (CDAC), Lee said that as Singapore’s economy grows and the external environment becomes more challenging , “economic growth will be more difficult to achieve and social mobility will be harder to maintain”.
This is where SHGs can provide extra help for those who are not doing as well as others, he said.
While the ethnic groups – the CDAC, Mendaki, SINDA and the Eurasian Association – receive funding from the government, they operate mainly through donations from their respective communities, as members contribute between S$0.50 and S$3 per month to the SHG to which they are associated. with.
In this way, SHGs “are a way for more successful Singaporeans to help and support others in their own communities,” Mr Lee said.
“It’s a very natural human impulse, and it strengthens the bonds between members of the community,” he added.
Mr Lee also advocated supporting ethnic self-help groups in Singapore’s multiracial society, instead of creating a single outfit to serve everyone.
The four self-help groups “better understand the unique characteristics and needs of their different communities” and can also address issues “frankly, without raising racial or religious sensitivities”, he said.
“We will lose something valuable if we don’t have the SHGs,” Mr Lee said.
But he also encouraged SHGs to work together “to strengthen Singapore’s social compact and strengthen our multi-racial identity”.
The groups currently run joint programs — like the Collaborative Tuition Program and Big Heart Student Care Centers — that cater to students of all races.
Another project – the Vibrance @ Yishun Special Center – is also underway and will also reach out to all students, Lee said.