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Edwin Tong’s silence on current number of PRs as grassroots leaders sparks curiosity

Minister Edwin Tong said a fraction of PRs assumes leadership roles as grassroots leaders but withheld current figures. The shift to vague descriptions raises curiosity, given previous reports openly disclosed the count.

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SINGAPORE: Culture, Community, and Youth Minister Edwin Tong on Friday (16 February) told the Parliament that while a fraction of Permanent Residents (PRs) assume leadership positions as grassroots leaders, this is not the case for foreigners.

However, he omitted the latest figures on the number of PRs assuming leadership roles as grassroots leaders (GRLs), when he was asked by Mr Leong Mun Wai, Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) on the participation of PRs and foreigners in grassroots activities and their leadership positions.

He affirmed that PRs and non-citizens are welcome to participate in grassroots events and activities, and underscored the stringent processes and due diligence in place when appointing or reappointing GRLs, regardless of their background.

“But even in the with the most rigorous checks, cannot preclude the possibility of a person, subsequently behaving in an unbefitting manner, or discovering a hitherto unknown fact or circumstance, ” he said.

If such information comes to the attention of the People’s Association (PA), immediate action will be taken to reassess the person’s suitability as a GRL, with the potential revocation of their appointment if necessary.

Foreign influence concerns arise after MHA intends to declare a businessman as ‘Politically Significant’ Under FICA

On 2 February, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) expressed the intent to designate Mr Philip Chan Man Ping, a Hong Kong-born Singaporean businessman as the first “politically significant person” under the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (FICA).

For over a decade, Mr Chan has been actively engaged in grassroots and fundraising initiatives in Singapore, establishing connections with local politicians through various activities.

His roles as a patron of the Kampong Chai Chee Citizens’ Consultative Committee and the Bukit Timah Community Club Management Committee have involved him deeply in community affairs.

However, following the MHA’s announcement, the PA revealed that Mr Chan has resigned from all grassroots appointments, as reported by CNA.

The matter has sparked concerns among Members of Parliament about the foreign influence among grassroots leaders.

On Friday (16 February), Mr Yip Hon Weng, PAP MP for Yio Chu Kang SMC filed a parliamentary question to ask the MCCY about the vetting processes for potential grassroots leaders, key appointment holders, and patrons to ensure resilience against foreign influence.

Mr Yip also sought information on regular review processes after appointments, whether individuals born or educated outside Singapore face stricter vetting criteria, and how grassroots members are empowered to critically evaluate information, particularly from social media.

In response, Minister Edwin Tong underscored the PA’s mission to foster social cohesion, racial harmony, and a resilient community. He emphasized the vital role GRLs play in volunteering with the PA to contribute to this mission.

Minister Tong detailed that GRLs assist in communicating government policies, gathering feedback, and distinguishing between information and misinformation, including content from social media.

PA supports GRLs through regular dialogues, formal and informal, addressing both national and local issues, as well as open discussions during grassroots organization meetings.

To further equip GRLs, the National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI) conducts workshops aimed at imparting knowledge and skills to identify and manage misinformation.

“As leaders in the community, GRLs are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that befits their standing and role in the community and also to act in Singapore’s interest, ” stressed Minister Tong.

He highlighted robust processes and due diligence in appointing and reappointing GRLs, with regular reviews to maintain sufficient rigor.

However, Mr Tong defended that despite rigorous checks, unforeseen circumstances could arise.

“Even in the with the most rigorous checks, cannot preclude the possibility of a person, subsequently behaving in an unbefitting manner, or discovering a hitherto unknown fact or circumstance.”

He said if the PA becomes aware of unsuitable behaviour or new circumstances, immediate action will be taken to reassess suitability, including the possibility of revoking appointments if necessary.

PSP NCMP Leong Mun Wai seeks clarification on PRs and foreigners in grassroots activities

In a supplementary question, Mr Yip seeks insights into the frequency of reviews conducted after GRL appointments and their susceptibility to foreign influence.

Additionally, he inquired about avenues for grassroots leaders to seek advice when encountering attempts at influence.

Minister Edwin Tong asserts that the review process is regular and periodic, considering evolving circumstances like the impact of social media proliferation.

“We also look at the local ground conditions, what are some of the organizations that the grasses organizations partner with in fulfilling their mission or conduct their events. so it’s on a regular basis.”

He added that the emphasis is not only on systemic reviews but also on applying a common-sense approach. If there are indications of an individual becoming too close or unnaturally closer to one or more organizations, it is brought to attention.

Mr Tong said GRLs are encouraged to voice concerns to senior grassroots leaders, adult grassroots mentors, and advisors. These mentors serve as a resource and provide a broader perspective based on their experience.

“There’s also grassroot advisors and other organizations to whom you can raise any particular observations or concerns.

Mr Leong further sought clarification from Mr Tong on the participation of PRs and foreigners in grassroots activities and their leadership positions.

In response, Mr Tong clarified that PRs and non-citizens are welcome to take part in grassroots events, as they are part of Singaporean society and are present in the events.

“A fraction, proportion of the PRs do take up leadership positions as grassroots leaders, but not foreigners, ” Mr Tong told the house.

Current Numbers of PRs as GRLs omitted

However, Mr Tong did not provide details on the current number of PRs serving as GRLs.

It raises curiosity, as previous reports disclosed the count. The shift to describing it as a fraction without specific figures is noteworthy.

For instance, a 2009 article by TODAY indicated that 1,360 PRs served as grassroots leaders, comprising 4.6% of the 29,400 leaders then. This number doubled from November 2007 and quadrupled from August 2000.

TODAY’s report mentioned the Minister of Community, Youth, and Sports revealing 4,500 new citizens serving in grassroots organizations.

In 2013, a CNA article reported plans to induct more immigrants into grassroots leadership, with 3,000 immigrants comprising nine per cent of the 33,000-member strong grassroots leadership.

As per Singapore’s governmental website, as of October 2022, there are about 38,000 GRLs.

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How can PRs be appointed PA grassroot leaders? Isn’t this considered foriegn interference by Pappy?

It definitely is foriegn interference by Pappy standard if it is done by the WP or other opposition parties.

VTO. VTO.

How about Tik Toks boss? He replied all questions in the US saying he is a Singaporean, effectively not denying any of the questions put to him. The Americans have sent a warning. Please heed it before out economy is collapsed by a foreign nation.

Now that a naturalised citizen who has many leadership positions in the grassroot organisation of the PAP got caught being a stooge of a foreign country. They said it is ok to have PR and even foreigners participating in grassroots activities.
But refused to release figures of how many of these foreigners(aka PR) are now in positions of leadership in their grassroots organisation!

Before today, if there is even one foreigner participating in the grassroot of an opposition party, that party would probably have been closed down!

Last edited 2 months ago by Chi Can

9/10 is also a fraction rite?

Hahahaha !! more than 1 million jobs go to foreigners.

We keep hearing this:
1) Be inclusive
2) Singaporeans do not want to work. Blah blah…..
3) Singapore Pledge: Pledge ourselves as One United People….blah blah

What do you think?

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