GRLs: Grassroots Leaders or Grassroots Lackeys

By right, grassroots leaders or GRLs for short are suppose to bring the people and government closer, gather feedback from residents, implement the government’s social programmes and help to explain gahmen policies to residents to the best of their ability.

But some of us see them as lackeys to their MPs, following them around like lap dogs. Instead of gathering feedback or sharing gahmen policies, they angkat their MP’s balls by bringing them food and making sure the residents don’t ask their MPs inconvenient questions.

So, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of GRLs? Is serving the residents one of them or are they negative like the netizens below.

Reasons for Joining Grassroots

It didn’t help that there were some questionable bad and/or naughty behaviour by some of the GRLs.

  1. Violence

2. Inhumanely Housing Foreign Workers

3. Cheating

4. The Affair that almost cost the ruling party Bukit Batok SMC

5. Rude Behaviour

Mervin Yong

Of course there are about 37,000 GRLs as of December 2014. So these are a few bad apples. But because they get a bad reputation especially about the perks they get, came up with a mythbuster about GRLs and their benefits.

What Do People’s Association Grassroots Leaders Do? 

Then there is a video to set straight some rumours about the Grassroots guest-starring the Tree Potatoes crew.

Then SGAG also came out with another video although the captions were ROFL…

Don’t bluff my feelings! My grassroots leader is an old auntie! (Talk Cock Singapore)

If my grassroots volunteer was so chio, I might have 99 problems but she definitely ain’t one! (SGAG)

If my grassroot leader were as pretty as her, I would be calling her everyday… to solve problems. (All Singapore Stuff)

Then hor, there is the label Grassroots Leaders. Are all volunteers considered Grassroots Leader or does it apply to key appointment holders such as the RC Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

Looks like Intan answered the question for us. All grassroots volunteers are considered Grassroots Leader…although I don’t think all grassroots leaders have leadership qualities judging from what I have seen where they “chong” for goody bags and the buffet line.

But there are also heartwarming stories of GRLs.

  1. Kampong Spirit

An RC Chairman had alerted Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Mr Zainal Sapari about the garage sale to help raise money for Mr Mohd Rafi Basiran who lost everything after a fire broke out in his flat.

2. TB Screening

Then after 6 cases of tuberculosis were found at the Blk 203 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3,public health officers and grassroots leaders have engaged more than 75 per cent of households by going door-to-door to speak with residents to encourage them to do a screening at their void decks.

3. Project Hand in Hand

Jointly organised by Jurong Central Citizens’ Consultative Committee and Zone D Residents’ Committee, Project Hand in Hand have benefited about 400 lower-income households in Jurong Central constituency. They received about S$195,000 worth of food and basic necessities, for improving cleanliness and volunteering in their estate.

4. Harmony Night

Harmony Night organised by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens’ Consultative Committee , is to promote community engagement and bonding in the Chinatown community, and it is the first time it is held as part of Chinatown’s Chinese New Year celebrations. A total of 500 needy residents from Jalan Besar and Potong Pasir were treated to a night of festivities at Hong Lim Park.

5. Helping Single Unwed Parents and the Child

First timer Member of Parliament Saktiandi Supaat was a grassroots volunteer for many years before running for election. Mr Saktiandi is familiar with the plight of Singaporeans who have fallen through the cracks, and in spite of the controversy around the issue of helping single unwed parents, he feels that helping them is absolutely necessary.

“It’s not so much helping out the unwed single parent, it’s about the child. When you are helping out at the grassroots level, you see them face-to-face, and you can see the child in front of you, a young child oblivious to the future environment or existing environment they are in that may have an impact on them.”

Then more recently, Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar Melvin Yong joined mosque leaders with his GRLs in Iftar.

So you decide…Grassroots Leaders or Grassroots Lackeys?

Mr Teh Terik

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