Community Development Councils (CDCs) are umbrella grassroots bodies created to coordinate and lead smaller grassroots organisations such as the Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs), the Community Centre Management Committees (CCMCs) and the Residents’ Committees (RCs). The concept of CDCs was first mooted by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in his 1996 National Day rally speech delivered on 18 August. As Goh pointed out in his speech, the main objective of CDCs is to strengthen bonding and enhance social cohesion within local communities.
The proposed CDCs would be set up on a geographical basis. Their size could range from an entire town like Ang Mo Kio or comprise a combination of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) and Single Member Constituencies (SMCs). Each CDC would be headed either by an appointed chairman or mayor depending on its size, and its members would be residents living within the district of the CDC. These CDCS were envisaged to take over some functions of community development such as disbursing funds under the public assistance scheme, and managing applications for Medifund, Edusave and scholarships.Each CDC would have to raise its own funds to finance its operations, with the government matching S$3 for every S$1 raised. This amount was later revised in 1997 to a S$4 top-up for every S$1 raised.
The first CDCs to be established were at Marine Parade and Tanjong Pagar. Announced in February 1997, the Marine Parade and Tanjong Pagar CDCs were headed by mayors Eugene Yap and Ow Chin Hock respectively. Thereafter, the government created the remaining seven CDCs by the end of 1997, namely Ang Mo Kio-Cheng San, Bukit Timah, Central Singapore, North East, Sembawang, Hougang and Potong Pasir. Today, there are five CDCs – Central Singapore, North East, North West, South East and South West – after the government decided in 2001 to reduce the number in an effort to improve efficiency.
1. What’s a CDC? (1997, February 13). The Straits Times, p. 20; Coming soon: Mayors to help increase bonding. (1996, August 19). The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Fernandez, W. (1996, August 19). PM Goh urges young to rally behind him. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; The Straits Times, 19 Aug 1996, p. 24.
3. The Straits Times, 19 Aug 1996, p. 24
4. The Straits Times, 19 Aug 1996, p. 24.
5. PM Goh swears in first two mayors. (1997, March 30). The Straits Times, p. 1;
More money so community groups can focus on service. (1997, July 22). The Straits Times, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. First 2 CDCs preparing for launch. (1997, February 17). The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG;The Straits Times, 30 Mar 1997, p.1.
7. Full map of CDCs released for first time. (1997, August 21). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Tan, I. (2001, November 12). Fewer CDCs mean more focus. Today, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; People’s Association. (2013, July 19). Community Development Councils. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from People’s Association website: http://www.pa.gov.sg/our-network/community-development-councils.html
The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.