Ms Sylvia Lim asked the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) what are the timelines for public consultation in 2023 on the enhanced Community Disputes Management Framework to tackle neighbourhood disputes; and (b) with the necessary modifications, whether any part of this framework can be used for neighbour disputes in private estates.
48 Dr Wan Rizal asked the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth whether he can (i) elaborate on the cross-agency collaboration efforts that will be implemented to address noise issues between neighbours and (ii) provide details on the criteria that will be used to determine whether such a noise dispute is classified as “serious” and necessitates the intervention of the dedicated unit that was recently announced during the Ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.
Mr Edwin Tong Chun Fai: The Community Dispute Management Framework (CDMF) promotes neighbourliness and encourages residents to engage with one another in the first instance when disputes arise. As much as possible, it is best that disputes are resolved amicably at an early stage, before they become intransigent or intractable. Residents can also seek help from grassroot leaders to facilitate communications or attempt formal mediation at the Community Mediation Centre with a trained mediator.
We have previously announced the enhancements at this year’s Committee of Supply. They comprise various measures, including putting in place stronger laws to address serious neighbour disputes, including mandating mediation where applicable, improving the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal (CDRT) processes to give faster and more effective relief and piloting a team of dedicated personnel to facilitate dispute resolution.
The majority of community disputes involve neighbourhood noise. These are often complex and subjective issues for which the setting of clearer social norms plays a pivotal role. The Community Advisory Panel on Neighbourhood Noise (CAP) has established a set of community norms to manage noise and foster harmonious living, including an understanding of what kinds of noise are acceptable or unacceptable in the residential setting. Since receiving the CAP’s recommendations, the Municipal Services Office (MSO) has been working with partners to promote the proposed community norms and engaging relevant stakeholders on the proposed recommendations.
Whilst a substantial majority of neighbour noise feedback occurs in the Housing and Development Board estates today, private estate residents can also avail themselves of various features of the proposed CDMF, such as mandatory mediation and an enhanced CDRT framework, in the appropriate cases. We will also consider the extent to which any other enhancements to the framework can eventually also benefit residents in private estates, with adjustments as may be appropriate. We should add that CDMF should not take away from the community’s capacity to resolve disputes. Hence, the new pilot unit leveraging stronger laws will focus mainly on intervening in serious disputes. What qualifies as serious will be considered on a case-by-case basis, having regard to the context and circumstances in which the dispute has arisen.
A public consultation is estimated to take place within the next few months and will elaborate on these proposed criteria and enhancements. Members and the public are welcome to share feedback when the public consultation is launched.
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
8 May 2023