SINGAPORE – Helping young people get married and have children earlier – this will be an immediate priority of the new Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
The other is to support at-risk families and their children, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.
With effect from Nov 1, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports will be renamed the MSF following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement on Tuesday that MCYS and the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts will be restructured.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a visit to the Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA), Mr Chan said the restructuring – which will see the youth and sports portfolios carved out of MCYS and placed under a new Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) – was necessary to give greater focus to the areas that MSF will undertake as its immediate priorities.
Mr Lee had said on Tuesday that MSF will focus on building strong families, developing Singapore’s social services and looking after those in need of social support.
Mr Chan said: “The current MCYS has a very large portfolio, and many people say that we take care of Singaporeans from all walks of life, and all economic strata, from the cradle to the grave.
“And indeed, it is true, there are synergies within the different various parts of the work and yet, at the same time, there are also challenges with this.
“So with the formation of two dedicated ministries, one to look at the social and family issues and one to look at the community, youth, sports and arts issues, we have more focused attention on both sets of issues, which are important to Singaporeans.”
Speaking to TODAY, Minister of State (Community Development, Youth and Sports) Halimah Yacob reiterated that the restructuring was necessary as issues take on greater complexity. Mdm Halimah said: “The challenges over our family, population and fertility issues have become more complex. It is not that it wasn’t important before, but now it has assumed a critical note.”
Under the new MSF, Mdm Halimah will continue to serve as Minister of State. She told TODAY that she will also oversee the special needs group, in addition to her current portfolio of looking after childcare, community care, family and children issues.
Marriage and parenthood issues have taken on greater impetus: In June, the Government announced it was reviewing its policies in these areas.
As part of the review, MSF will look at the policies together with the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) as well as other agencies, Mr Chan said.
Mr Chan reiterated that addressing Singapore’s population woes would be at the top of his agenda, and the ministry will be re-examining its approach to overcome challenges of family formation and parenthood.
Said Mr Chan: “We are facing a rapidly ageing population. All this has an impact on our social dynamics … on family formation. We will look at it seriously and try to create an environment where we can help to promote family formation, and at the same time, to grapple with many of these social challenges.”
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