The People’s Association (PA) – you know them as the people who handle your community spaces in your HDB estates, those who do community events – but who are they really? We debunk 3 common misconceptions (or ahem, conspiracy theories as sometimes conjured up by opposition parties) about these unsung heroes.
Myth 1: The People’s Association (PA) is a political organization.
Myth 2: The PA only serves PAP's interests.
Debunked: The PA’s mission is to build and strengthen community bonds among Singaporeans, regardless of their political affiliation. It serves all Singaporeans and works with various community partners to develop and implement programs and activities that promote social cohesion and mutual understanding.
As a statutory board, the People’s Association, the network of grassroots organization and volunteers under PA serve the government of the day, not the PAP. This means the PA will take direction from Singapore’s future ruling parties, be it the Workers Party or Progress Singapore Party, when they win a future general election and eventually become the ruling party.
During the dark ages of the COVID-19 pandemic, PA worked with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to raise awareness of safe distancing measures and to explain and assist in the vaccination programme. PA spared no effort during the pandemic to look after our residents, going door to door, providing a calming assurance to our residents, and going the extra mile even when it meant risking the health and safety of staff and volunteers. PA also delivered urgent services to residents – including distributing masks, TraceTogether tokens and delivering food during the circuit breaker period. If the PA discriminated on political leanings, WP supporters wouldn’t have benefitted from these efforts! These efforts see beyond political leanings. These actions represent humanity and compassion.
Myth 3: The PA spreads propaganda. They’re nothing but a mouthpiece of the PAP!
Debunked: As a Statutory Board under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), the PA has a responsibility to keep the wider community informed about government policies and initiatives that may affect them. Common sense can tell you that – sharing information about government policies (eg your Budget payouts, where to collect your CDC vouchers) is essential to ensuring that Singaporeans are aware of the latest developments on national policies and initiatives.
Overall, sharing information about government policies is essential for promoting transparency, and accountability, and is an example of good governance. Think about your Ah Gong and Ah Ma – not everyone reads the news or has social media.
It is essential to recognize that the PA’s contributions are critical and valuable to the nation. There have been criticisms that opposition parties could perform the same functions as the PA. However, can we rely on the Opposition to do all these when they don’t even support the GST increase, have no position on vaccination, and are sitting on the fence on 377A repeal? The PA has been an essential partner in supporting the government’s efforts to improve the lives of Singaporeans, and its contributions should not be underestimated.
In conclusion, the PA is an essential part of Singapore’s community-building efforts, and its contributions to the nation should not be overlooked. The PA serves all Singaporeans, regardless of their political affiliation, race, or religion, and has been instrumental in supporting the country. It is vital to debunk the misconceptions surrounding the PA and recognize its importance in promoting social cohesion and community engagement in Singapore, instead of pandering to the musings and conspiracy theories of other opposition MPs who try to discredit the work of our PA volunteers and civil servants.
In Minister Edwin Tong’s written reply to Workers’ Party MPs Mr Leon Perera and Ms He Ting Ru questions in Parliament dated 8 May, he maintains that PA does not conduct any activity with any political party. PA does not allow its events or venues to be used for partisan purposes by any political party.
Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) what types of activities are undertaken by the grassroots advisors (GRAs) to explain Government’s policies to the people; (b) what is the legislative provision that mandates the role for the People’s Association (PA) to explain Government’s policies; and (c) what proportion of the PA’s overall budget is devoted to this function.
Ms He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth what are the impediments to having civil servants from the People’s Association, as well as other agencies, communicate and explain Government policy, as compared with having a grassroots adviser to do so.
Ms He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) what are the standards applied to decide whether an activity held in People’s Association (PA) controlled events or venues are being used for partisan purposes by any political party; and (b) what are the channels for recourse should any member of the public be concerned about PA events or venues being misused for partisan purposes.
Ms He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) whether there have been reports received by the Ministry and its agencies, including the People’s Association and its associated groups, on misuse of People’s Association events or venues which deviate from the original intent; (b) if so, how many investigations have been conducted on these reports in each of the last five years; and (c) what is the breakdown of the outcome of such investigations