Speech By Senior Minister Of State for Law, Indranee Rajah, at the Community Mediation Centre’s Mediators Appointment Ceremony and Appreciation Dinner
11 Nov 2014 Posted in Speeches
Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee,
Distinguished mediators and friends,
- I am delighted to be here at the CMC’s Mediators Appointment Ceremony and Appreciation Dinner. As we know, 2015 is going to be a very special year for Singapore, because that’s when the nation turns 50. It is therefore fitting for us to give special recognition to the 39 mediators who are also members of the Pioneer Generation. Can we just give them a big round of applause please!
Recognising the contributions of our volunteer mediators
- The CMC’s annual dinner is to recognise the invaluable contributions of our volunteer mediators. We started off with less than 30 volunteers – community leaders who believed in fostering a more harmonious society. Today, the CMC has more than 160 mediators on its panel, including the 17 new mediators who were appointed in August this year. I want to extend a warm welcome to these new mediators and if they’re at your table, please congratulate them and give them round of applause! To the three gentlemen who have recently been promoted, I congratulate you on your commitment and outstanding service to the community.
- I would also like to give special thanks to the members of our Advisory Committee on Community Mediation. The Committee Chairman, Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, has been a strong champion of mediation to promote a non-litigious culture and build a cohesive community in Singapore. Together with his six members, comprising Dr Lim Lan Yuan, Mr Thirunal Karasu, Mr Anthony Samy, Mr Wee Pang Kiat, Mr Michael Chew and Mr Steven Kee, the Advisory Committee helps us to explore ways to further develop our volunteer mediators.
- For instance, in 2012, the committee helped develop the Mediator Management Framework. This framework provided a systematic way to manage the recruitment, development and recognition of our volunteer mediators. Their valuable inputs also helped us introduce the co-sponsorship scheme for our mediators in 2013. This scheme enabled mediators to go for further training to hone their mediation skills.
- In addition, the members are facilitators in CMC’s mediation training for new volunteers and grassroots leaders, where they impart to trainees practical tips gathered through their years of experience in community mediation. Such useful tips complement the theoretical concepts on mediation when handling social and community disputes.
- So to these seven gentlemen, our sincere appreciation for your work and contributions to your fellow mediators. All these are done on top of the hours you have put in for training and mediating cases, which makes your contributions even more commendable. Thank you very much.
Update on CMC’s role in the Community Dispute Resolution Framework
- Next, I would like to update everyone here on how we are improving the ways that community disputes will be resolved in Singapore.
- As you may have read in the newspapers, the government is developing a Community Dispute Resolution Framework. Under this framework, grassroots and community leaders will be the first to step in as peacemakers to help diffuse tensions. When such intervention fails, conflicting parties may attend mediation at the CMC to try to find a mutually agreeable solution and maintain a cordial relationship. Only when all these measures fail, then the parties will be able to proceed to the Community Dispute Resolution Tribunal, which will be established under the State Courts. The Ministry of Law is currently developing the legislative framework for the Tribunal, and a public consultation on the draft legislation was launched yesterday. The three-week-long consultation will end on the 30th of this month
- In this regard, the Tribunal will have to be an avenue of last resort. A person who applies to have their dispute heard by the Tribunal must first attempt mediation with the respondent before a Tribunal case can be started. If the other party refuses to attend mediation, the Tribunal can allow the case to be started, and order both parties to attend pre-hearing mediation and record any agreement as a consent order which can be enforced accordingly.
- You can therefore see that the CMC will continue to play a key role in resolving community disputes; in fact, I dare say an enhanced role given the Tribunal that we are setting up. Some of the more experienced mediators among you will be invited to conduct mediation mandated by the Tribunal when it is set up.
- CMC will continue to work with partner agencies in promoting mediation as a better way to resolve conflicts. But we don’t want every minor disagreement to come to the CMC. Therefore, there will be initiatives rolled out to equip the community with basic mediation skills for conflict management as part of its efforts to encourage good neighbourliness and considerate behaviour. These will include a self-help video on basic techniques for conflict management and workshops for conflict management at the workplace, just to name a few.
CMC’s continual partnership with its mediators
- Much of the CMC’s work is made possible by the contributions and partnership of our volunteer mediators, who have been and will continue to be a core part of our efforts to promote mediation as an effective tool for resolving community disputes.
- Late last year, the CMC started roping in its panel of mediators in outreach events and roadshows, where the mediators played the role of CMC’s ambassadors to encourage the use of mediation for conflict resolution.
- This year, the CMC will be rolling out a new self-help mediators’ portal which was developed in consultation with members of the Advisory Committee. With this portal, our mediators will be able to access and manage their personal and training records, as well as bid for available mediation sessions online at their convenience. The portal also includes a forum to facilitate discussions and interactions among our mediators where they can share and exchange best practices. Mediators can look forward to using this portal by December.
- Each of you will also have received the new edition of the Mediators Handbook this year. This revised handbook incorporates useful information such as reappointment and advancement opportunities under the Mediator Management Framework as well as handy tips on mediation techniques. It aims to provide our mediators with a better understanding of CMC’s role and mission, as well as their roles as community mediators.
- I would like to thank all the mediators for your partnership with CMC in our journey to continually improve how our community mediators are managed, trained and developed. The CMC looks forward to your continual support and partnership and will explore ways to further tap on your experience and expertise.
- We also acknowledge the continual support and great partnership given to the CMC by agencies that have worked closely with us for the past 16 years. These include the Crime Registry under the State Courts, the Singapore Police Force as well as the Housing Development Board, just to name a few. We look forward to an even stronger partnership with these agencies and establishing new ones under the new Community Dispute Resolution Framework.
- In conclusion, I am glad to note that in these 16 years of building bridges within the community, the CMC and its volunteer mediators have played key roles in building a harmonious society. You have helped to make our community and our society, a more gracious one. I wish all of you an enriching, meaningful and rewarding journey as a community mediator. Thank you and enjoy the rest of your evening.
Last updated on 14 Nov 2014