Like other government agencies, the People's Association (PA) does not conduct any activity with any political party, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said in a written reply in Parliament on Apr. 21.
The PA also does not allow its events or venues to be used for partisan purposes by any political party, he added.
Tong was replying to a question posed by Workers' Party Member of Parliament (MP) He Ting Ru about the regulations governing the interactions between the grassroots, PA and government agency outreach efforts involving politicians and community groups.
He also asked further about how political events and outreach efforts by government agencies are distinguished from grassroots and state events.
Tong: PA's purpose is to act as a bridge between government & public
Tong elaborated that the PA is a statutory board under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
It was first established in 1961 to promote social cohesion, and act as a bridge between the government and the people, and has full-time officers who work closely with grassroots leaders and volunteers.
According to the minister, the PA plays a key role in "last mile" communications -- explaining government policies to citizens, listening to their concerns and gathering their feedback so that the government can improve its policies.
In addition, the PA works closely with government agencies to inform and engage residents on key government initiatives.
Tong cited the Covid-19 pandemic as an example in which the PA worked with the Health Ministry to raise awareness of safe distancing measures and assist with the vaccination programme.
The PA was also involved in going door to door to provide assurances to residents, despite the risks to the safety of its staff and volunteers, he highlighted.
Tong added, "(The) PA also delivered urgent services to residents – including distributing masks, TraceTogether tokens and delivering food during the circuit breaker period."
PA also appoints advisers to guide grassroots organisations
The minister also highlighted that the PA appoints grassroots advisers to guide grassroots organisations, as well as grassroots leaders and volunteers to help us communicate and implement the policies
and programmes of the government.
This includes difficult and sometimes unpopular policies which the government believes are necessary for the future.
According to Tong, these policies include, "the Goods and Services Tax increases (which the Opposition reject), the increase in retirement age and the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, for example."
Why are there PAP Grassroots Advisers in WP wards?
Top image via PA website