Monday, April 27, 2009

Bringing back the neighbourly spirit

DRIPPING laundry, thumping music and trash left in the common corridors of estates are just some of the 34,000 residents' complaints town councils and the Housing Board have to contend with annually.

These issues were raised by MP of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Liang Eng Hwa in Parliament in February last year, and led to a workgroup being formed to tackle unneighbourly behaviour and
poor social habits.

From anecdotal feedback, the workgroup has seen a rise in friction between neighbours.
MP for Jurong GRC and workgroup member Halimah Yacob said: 'People have become quite faceless, they don't know each other, so they don't feel comfortable talking to each other and addressing some of their concerns.'

Another possible reason is residents having higher expectations of their environment and having lower tolerance towards disturbances, observed the workgroup.

Yesterday, new initiatives to improve relations between neighbours were launched at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh.

And to reinforce the message, a guidebook on how to be a perfect neighbour will be delivered to the more than 800,000 HDB households islandwide.

Residents can also start nominating their neighbours from next month for the newly minted Good Neighbour Award.

The award, organised by HDB and the People's Association in partnership with the Singapore Kindness Movement and Singapore Press Holdings, will serve to recognise exemplary neighbours.
HDB is also looking to implement a system of warnings and fines for recalcitrant neighbourhood nuisances from the third quarter of this year.

However, Senior Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu, who led the workgroup, emphasised that public education on gracious behaviour should be the way to go instead of punishment.

'A penalty system is not and must not be the first resort to shape Singaporeans' behaviour,' she said, adding that the penalties will apply only to a small minority of people who have remained uncooperative.

Source: Straits Times, 27 April 2009

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