COS 2021: Resolving Neighbour Disputes

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): Neighbour disputes are some of the most thorny issues in public housing estates. Residents often contact the police, HDB, town councils or the Ministers of Parliament to seek assistance. Avenues like the Community Mediation Centre (CMC), or Community Dispute Resolution Tribunal (CDRT), are available, but many residents seem less keen on using them, because of perceived administrative hurdles or perceived ineffectiveness. Can there be a more streamlined, efficient and effective process available to residents at the first instance?

The CMC could be that avenue, but it first needs to be given more resources and more teeth.

First, when a resident chooses to lodge an application for mediation, the CMC should mandate that both parties be present at the mediation. It should not be voluntary. Second, the CMC should be staffed with full time, professional mediators to mediate cases. This can also help boost their authority in the eyes of the disputing parties. Third, agreements must be binding on all parties. If violated, the complainant should be able to use it to file a case with the CDRT for a fast track application for an injunction. And fourth, the Government should publicise the CMC more, so residents know that they can contact the CMC before they call the police or HDB to settle their disputes.

I believe that if these proposals can be implemented, the CMC will provide a more streamlined avenue for residents to seek a resolution to their disputes and relieve the burden of mediating these neighbour disputes on agencies like the Police. 

Ministry of Law
1 March 2021

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