And there are no limitations on what they can propose, said Dr Maliki Osman, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and an MP for East Coast GRC.
“It can be anything, but they must have passion,” he said, giving examples such as raising environmental awareness among residents or helping lonely seniors in the district. “They must feel very strongly about the group they want to work with.”
The programme, called Create Change @ South East, is being set up by the South East Community Development Council (CDC). This encompasses East Coast and Marine Parade GRCs, as well as the single-seat constituencies of Mountbatten and MacPherson.
It is designed to be a six-month scheme, with each young person given seed funding of up to $5,000 to implement their ideas in the district.
Though the ideas must come from young people themselves, they will be linked up with grassroots advisers, who will serve as mentors, and get a monthly allowance of up to $1,000 for their time and commitment. After six months, participants will take part in a symposium to share what they have learnt from the project.
The CDC will work with institutes of higher learning, such as polytechnics, ITE College East, and the Singapore Institute of Design and Technology to recruit those interested in making a difference. Interested applicants do not need to be residents in the district.
“This attachment is not just free labour; I don’t want it to turn out that way,” Dr Maliki said. “So we are very careful about curating this experience. We want to try to get more seniors – grassroots leaders and activists on the ground – to help mentor them.”
Making reference to the Singapore Together movement launched by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, he added: “It’s not just about having conversations – if you feel passionate about something, do something about it.”
Dr Maliki was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the South East District Conference, which was attended by Mr Heng and several other MPs.
Among them was Marine Parade MP Fahmi Aliman, who will succeed Dr Maliki as mayor of the district.
Dr Maliki said his nine-year stint has been meaningful, with much done to reach out to various segments of the community. He said he was confident that Mr Fahmi would do an excellent job as mayor.
Mr Fahmi added jokingly: “The minister has assured me that there will be a ‘warranty period’, so any time I have issues or things that I need to clarify, he will be there.”