Speech by SPS Sim Ann at the “I Mediate!” Youth Mediation Day 2012
18 Feb 2012 Posted in Speeches
Teachers and students,
A very good morning to all of you. I am glad to see so many of you here for our Youth Mediation Day. This is the sixth time we have organised this event and I am heartened to see very strong support from student leaders like you. It is our hope that through sessions like today, you will learn about and be encouraged to apply peer mediation techniques in your daily lives to help build and preserve happy and harmonious relationships with your schoolmates, friends and family members.
The Community Mediation Unit (CMU) organises various activities throughout the year such as our Peer Mediation Assembly Programmes and Peer Mediation Workshops for our youth to learn about peer mediation. The theme of today’s event, I Mediate!, encapsulates the vital role each of you can play as a mediator between peers. I am pleased to hear that many of you participated in the I Mediate! Video Challenge and produced very interesting and creative videos about peer mediation. I would like to congratulate all the teams for their enthusiastic efforts. We will get the chance to take a look at the winning entries later.
Role of Mediation
- Let me talk a little about the importance of mediation in our lives and society. Although all of us desire to live harmoniously with our friends and neighbours, there are occasions where disputes arise. Such situations may get uncomfortable and spiral out of control if we do not know how to resolve them peacefully and amicably.
- Disputes often arise because of a lack of communication and understanding between the parties involved. It is important for us to learn how to appreciate the concerns of the other party and communicate our views, so that we can arrive at a common understanding. This will help us develop and maintain good relationships.
- However, it is not always easy for disputing parties to come to such a common understanding. This is where mediation is very useful. Mediation brings disputing parties together to iron out their differences with the help of a neutral facilitator – the mediator. The mediator gives both parties the opportunity to air their grievances, helps them reach a common understanding and works towards achieving a mutually acceptable settlement.
Building a Mediation Culture in Singapore
- The Community Mediation Centre (CMC) has been effective in resolving many community and social disputes. Its panel of 133 volunteer mediators have mediated more than 5,000 disputes in the past 13 years. Some of the disputes the CMC handles include neighbours who cannot see eye-to-eye about the use of common space in the corridor, siblings who are unable to work out arrangements to support their elderly parents and disagreements between friends over monetary issues. Seemingly trivial issues can sometimes cause great distress to both parties and relationships can sour very quickly if there is no timely and effective intervention.
- Noise nuisance between neighbours is one of the top three types of disputes. Let me share a case that the CMC mediators handled. One party had children running around the house. So the neighbour approached the family to tell them about the noise. The noise level reduced for a while, but would recur time and again. That irked the neighbour, who decided to confront and scold the children. The family in turn was upset and hurt by the remarks. Both parties decided to come for mediation, where a settlement between both parties was reached. Both agreed to reduce the excessive noise and to communicate more. The neighbour also apologised for the language used when scolding the children.
- Beyond what can be done by the CMC, our youth can make a huge difference in our society by learning about mediation and helping to promote a “mediation culture” in Singapore. You can start by playing an active role in preserving the harmony in your schools today, and in time to come, the wider community. We want people to resolve their conflicts at an early stage, in a friendly manner, instead of resorting to more drastic options like lodging Police reports or even filing complaints in the Courts.
- I hope all of you will be able to glean new perspectives about mediation from today’s event, and in the process, have fun, interact and make new friends.
- I wish you a fruitful and enjoyable event.
- Thank you.
Last updated on 25 Nov 2012