Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Straits Times: IT-savvy Yew Tee stays in the loop

Dec 30, 2009 
IT-savvy Yew Tee stays in the loop 
Facebook, Twitter, blogs are ways in which residents can be updated on ministerial visit
By Ang Yiying 

RESIDENTS of Yew Tee who cannot be present when a minister visits their community next month will be able to follow the proceedings through live feeds on Facebook and Twitter. 

A team of about 10 roving 'reporters' comprising grassroots volunteers and Republic Polytechnic students will be on the ground when Minister for Law and Second Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam drops in on this corner of Hong Kah GRC on Jan 17. 

Madam Priscilla Chew, 49, will be among those who will take photos and videos and post short comments about the visit in real time; others will make blog posts during an hour-long dialogue with the minister.

Hong Kah GRC Member of Parliament Yeo Cheow Tong told reporters yesterday about the use of new media: 'While we've done a pretty good job of reaching out, it adds an additional dimension to our outreach.'

He noted that this channel of communication was appropriate, given that residents in this neighbourhood around Choa Chu Kang North 5, 6 and 7 are mostly young and Internet-savvy.

Early this year, grassroots groups set up the Facebook group Friends of Yew Tee, which now has about 1,600 members.

Mr Yeo said he gets three to four messages daily from residents asking for help through the Facebook group or e-mail.

Mr Johnny Lim, among the grassroots volunteers who set up the Facebook group, said: 'Facebook is one of the most 'in' things at the moment and it's more effective than blogging.'

The owner of an IT training company added that it is a good way of informing residents about neighbourhood events and collecting feedback.

Residents will also use the Facebook group to post questions to the minister, he added.

During the meeting with reporters, Mr Yeo and grassroots volunteers also gave an update on efforts to integrate immigrants settled in Yew Tee.

The Zone 9 Residents' Committee, for example, holds free conversational English classes weekly in a void deck; new citizens and permanent residents from China teach the Chinese classics to Singaporeans through a reading club.

The minister's visit will give new immigrants from Cambodia, Vietnam and China an opening to showcase their traditional hometown cuisines.

Mr Yeo said such new residents make up about 5 per cent of participants at grassroots events.

Team Marshe
Martin Koh/ Sherry Tang
93833992/ 98444400

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