Speech by SMS Assoc Prof Ho Peng Kee at the Official Opening of the Eagles Mediation & Counselling Centre's (EMCC) new office at Social Service Hub, Liang Court
10 Oct 2010 Posted in Speeches
Mr. John Ng, Honorary Chairman
Ladies and Gentlemen
- I am happy to be here this afternoon at the official opening of this new EMCC office. I was present at the opening of your first centre in 1998. Hence, it gives me great joy to join all of you in celebrating this further milestone in EMCC’s development.
Celebrating EMCC’s Successes in Strengthening Social Cohesion
- The theme for today’s event - “Celebrating Relationships” - is a timely reminder of the interconnectedness of Singapore society. The adage that “no man is an island” is perhaps never as true as it is now. I had taught for 14 years at the NUS Law Faculty from 1979 to 1993 during which time I also lived in a student Hall of Residence which accommodated 450 students from many different Faculties. I still run into many of my former law and hall students today in politics! The physical and social proximities that characterise modern society underscore the importance of maintaining harmonious relationships with those around us – be it at home, at work or in our broader communities.
- This afternoon, we pay tribute to agencies like EMCC which help to support and develop these relationships that bind our society. Since its inception, the Centre has made valuable contributions to our communal landscape through its range of alternative dispute resolution (or ADR) processes. I understand that EMCC is presently the only charitable organization in Singapore to integrate both mediation and counselling services under one roof. Through these activities, EMCC has come to play an important role in preserving and strengthening social cohesion.
- Communal disputes - particularly within the family - are often emotionally charged and have a tendency to escalate quickly. In these situations, mediation provides an amicable, less confrontational environment that facilitates creative problem solving. Counselling also helps to stabilise the situation by diffusing tension and addressing the underlying problem. These processes serve an important conciliatory function where continuing communal relationships are involved.
- Apart from facilitating the case-wise resolution of individual disputes, another noteworthy aspect of EMCC’s work is its capacity building and community outreach programmes. These educational and training courses have enhanced public awareness and understanding of non-adjudicative mechanisms like mediation. These projects are important complements to the Community Mediation Centres’ (or CMCs’) concurrent efforts to cultivate a “mediation culture”. Together, these initiatives promote the cultivation of a more cohesive and collaborative mentality within our society.
Celebrating EMCC’s Contributions to the Family Unit
- EMCC has focussed a significant part of its institutional capabilities on championing an important cause - relationships within the family unit. As we celebrate EMCC’s move to this beautiful new home, it’s timely to highlight the Centre’s transformative efforts within Singapore households.
- Healthy familial relationships are the cornerstone of a happy and successful society. As we enter the 21st century, the family unit has come under increasing pressure from competing demands outside the home. Between the years 1997 and 2007, the number of female divorcees per 1,000 married female residents increased from 6.6 to 8.3. 1 Many families are under stress today, of varying degrees and of different natures. In this regard, MOH’s focus on enhancing Singapore’s mental healthcare is timely.
- EMCC has risen positively to this challenge through a network of schemes. In addition to providing marriage and family counselling, EMCC was the first organization appointed by the Family Courts to mediate pre-trial divorce cases. A number of EMCC’s mediators are also Master Mediators at the CMCs; others have been appointed mediators by the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents.
- The Centre’s curative services are augmented by preventive initiatives such as marriage preparation courses and parenting workshops. These strengthen family relationships even before conflicts arise. This comprehensive range of measures has helped equip the Centre’s customers with the mindset and tools needed to navigate the evolving complexities of modern family life. In my view, pre-marital counselling is key to ensuring that the marriage gets off to a good start.
- Indeed, we need look no further than to our collective presence here today to recognise that EMCC is earnest in “Bringing Hope to Relationships”. I look forward to seeing even more of the Centre’s good work in the years to come.
- On that note, it now gives me great pleasure to declare EMCC’s new premises officially open. Thank you.
 Source: “Family First: State of the Family Report 2009”, a joint publication by the National Family Council and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports
Last updated on 25 Nov 2012