Running Head: ROLE EVOLUTION
Then and Now: The Organization of
Singapore’s Social Service Landscape
Singapore has come a long way in its development since its devastating post-war climate in 1945. 50 years on, Singapore has transcended from a third-world to a first-world nation. This notion made famous by founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, has arguably captioned the nation as a growth miracle. Dubbed as one of the richest nation in the Eastern hemisphere (Reuters, 2015), the success of Singapore is attributed to its ability to balance the equilibriums of economic and social progress. One way of achieving this equilibrium is based on the pragmatic philosophy that the nation abides to (Khan, 2001), of which its origins have been found dating back to Singapore’s post-war periods.
The aftermath of the Japanese Occupation left the nation in utter chaos. With widespread cases of illnesses, employment and the lack of proper housing and sanitation, immediate actions were taken to stabilize the nation. The British colony, which reinstated its reign in post-war Singapore, established the Social Welfare Department (SWD) in 1946 as its first initiative in improving Singapore’s social welfare landscape.
The SWD directed resources to five pressing areas of post-war Singapore - food, housing, the provision of relief, youth welfare, women and children. For instance, the communal feeding programs introduced by SWD were successful in curbing malnutrition and inflated food prices by providing cheap yet nutritious meals to citizens. Starting initially as People’s Restaurant, which served food at 35-cents per plate, the SWD later expanded to Family Restaurants that provided meals at 8-cents per plate. Pre-school children were able to receive free meals at child-feeding centres, of which the first was set up at Havelock Road. Later, these child-feeding centres evolved into Children Social Centres (CSC) to engage and educate children so that they do not fall into juvenile delinquency (Maisharah, 2008).
Till today, feeding schemes such as Willing Hearts’ free meal program are still active in the provision of meals to the underprivileged. Although volunteer-run, the vision of Willing Hearts in providing meals as a means of rehabilitation has lineage to SWD’s earlier intent in alleviating Singapore’s post-war hardships (Willing Hearts, 2016). Former CSCs have also taken on the new role as Community Centres (CC), where members of the community regardless of age and race can gather to build friendship through group activities, receive social support and public information. CCs therefore act as platforms to foster social bonding and solicit public concerns and feedback (People’s Association, 2017). Hence, many social services today are extensions and enhancements of measures that were once implemented to cope with post-war Singapore.
Another distinct trademark of Singapore’s organization of social services that originated f...