Since it was formed in 1960, the main pursuit of the People’s Association (PA) is to “help foster racial harmony and social cohesion to form the basis for nation building”… or so goes its official biography. Folks across all spectrums of race, language, income and age groups would come together (via volunteering in Residents’ Committees and Neighbourhood Committees) through activities organized at various community centres across the country.
But that was in the turbulent ’60s. Today, being an RC volunteer means you get certain benefits — exclusive perks that ensure that you rise above the hoi polloi that form the rest of your community. They’re not simple freebies either; you get things such as free leadership courses, preferential admissions for primary schools, and designated parking lots. Substantial advantages, indeed — and ones that former Non-constituency MP Gerald Giam pointed out. The grammatical error (“Who is eligibility”) was certainly not lost.
Being a member of The Workers’ Party, it’s clear why Giam may have reservations about the blatant promotion of getting folks to sign up as RC volunteers. Though the People’s Association is meant to be a non-partisan statutory board for the purpose of social cohesion, the mainstream belief on the street is that the PA is a tool, a grassroots extension of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).
In any case, Giam’s post sparked dozens of responses questioning volunteers’ intentions to join. So much so that the PA itself had to respond in a highly jargonistic statement:
The Workers’ Party, however, wasn’t done with the issue. With tongue firmly in cheek, it went ahead and produced its own flyer that lay down the truth about volunteering for an inherently disadvantaged opposition party. Oh, the shade….