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Role of community leaders highlighted at ASEAN ministers meeting in Singapore

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohamad during 13th ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (13th AMRDPE) in Singapore highlighted the essential function of penghulus and village heads, or leaders, in the socio-economic development of village communities during a meeting chaired by Singapore’s Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli on Wednesday.

The minister also said that the review of service schemes for penghulu and village heads, particularly the lowering of the minimum age requirement, has widened the pool of grassroots community leaders, resulting in more than 20 per cent of those holding confirmed posts being aged 40 years and below.

The 13th AMRDPE also underscored poverty eradication in the ASEAN region by exchanging best practices as well as providing strategic guidance and policy direction on regional development cooperation to improve the lives of underprivileged people.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi highlighted the role of National Welfare System in providing a centralised platform for applying welfare assistance, as well as generating poverty-related data to assist in designing targeted programmes to empower vulnerable communities.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Nazmi bin Haji Mohamad in a group photo with other ASEAN ministers. PHOTO: MCYS

He further highlighted the government’s commitment and support, for community-based efforts through non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to reduce poverty and to bridge the development gap in the Sultanate through a whole-of-nation approach.

The minister said the Sultanate, through agencies such as the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, as well as the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, provide financial support to NGOs to organise programmes and activities related to caring for the well-being of communities in need.

At the meeting, ministers adopted a joint statement for the 13th AMRDPE which agreed to strengthen community-based approaches in rural and urban communities in the design, implementation and assessment of social protection measures that target the poor and vulnerable, as well as empowering measures that enliven local enterprise development in rural and urban areas.

Ministers also tasked the Senior Officials Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (SOMRDPE) to undertake cross-sectoral and inter-pillar collaboration with relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies and ASEAN’s partners to accelerate the implementation of the ASEAN Framework Action Plan on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication 2021-2025 to ensure its completion by 2025, and the operationalisation of the ASEAN Master Plan on Rural Development, as well as other relevant ASEAN frameworks such as the ASEAN Leaders Joint Statement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Villages Network. – James Kon