Media Presence

DPA has written in regularly to various newspapers commenting on accessibility issues for persons with disabilities.

Please refer to our dedicated blog page for the letters in full.

January 2018

– On 22 January 2018, An article highlighting a Facebook post that garnered quite a substantive online reaction where Facebook user, Ms Marie Constance Tan’s post detailed how, for 15 minutes, a man on the train stared at her incessantly and moved seats twice to get closer to her. Remarks by other users claiming to be the man’s schoolmates mentioned that he had an intellectual disability. Channel NewsAsia reached out to DPA’s Executive Director Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills who was quoted: “Having an intellectual, developmental or psychosocial (chronic mental impairment) disability does not necessarily absolve someone of responsibility for bad or harassing behavior,”. “To assume this would be to treat people with disabilities differently, based solely on them having a disability, and this is discrimination.” “No women should feel endangered or uncomfortable – regardless of what she is wearing, or whether the man in question may have less understanding of social norms and what is appropriate behaviour.” “Having a disability does not affect how right or wrong this behaviour was, but it can affect how we should deal with it,”, “In addition, DPA hopes that if he is counselled about his harassing behaviour and warned that this is not appropriate, it should be in a manner that he can comprehend. This could be done in conjunction with disability organisations that are trained to communicate in a manner that is more accessible.”
(Article: “If you’re unable to react, it’s ok: How to handle public harassment”)

– On 29 January 2018, a journalist from The Pride, a wing of the Singapore Kindness Movement, sits down and discusses with DPA’s Executive Director about possible opportunities to educate ourselves, and people with disabilities, in daily public interactions that we may have. She was quoted as saying: “If you think that people are behaving rudely, or aggressively, or in a way that is scaring you, we would ask that you take a step back and maybe ask yourself a few questions, like, ‘Is there something else behind what’s going on? Is this person having a meltdown? Is this person not able to grasp social norms? Are we, perhaps, infringing on what he sees as his personal space to cause him to react that way?’. “We are not asking people to diagnose the disability or even to spot it, just ask yourself a few questions before judging.”
(Article: “We need more empathy for disabled people”)

– On 31 January 2018, a piece on the proposed changes to the ElderShield insurance scheme where the reporter reached out to DPA’s Executive Director Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills to find out possible challenges that people with disabilities might have with the proposed changes. Dr Marissa was quoted accordingly: Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills, executive director of the Disabled People’s Association, said that the Government should waive premiums for those who have severe pre-existing disabilities. They are often unable to secure employment, “and those that do are often not paid as much as able-bodied employees”, she said. “This means they are less likely to be able to build savings, or have enough in their Medisave accounts to pay an ElderShield premium.” She added that their relatives, after helping them over the years, may also not have enough in their Medisave.
(Article: “Plan to improve ElderShield will boost social safety net: Experts”)

– On 31 January 2018, An article on the proposed changes to the ElderShield insurance scheme where the reporter reached out to DPA’s Executive Director Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills who was mentioned as such: “Echoing the sentiment, executive director of the Disabled People’s Association Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills said there needs to be further study into whether the current payouts will be enough to help with the kind of assistance people with severe disabilities require.”
(Article: “Experts suggest bigger payouts, better coverage for enhanced ElderShield”)

December 2017

– On 02 December 2017, an article written by Justin Lee (Research Fellow, NUS-IPS), the article came out just ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It also highlighted the DPI movement globally, and the role that DPA plays in Singapore.
(Article: “Striving towards a multi-abled Singapore”)

November 2017

– On 12 November 2017, in an article highlighting the challenges faced by persons with disabilities when travelling, DPA’s President Mr Richard Kuppusamy’s experience was highlight, and he was also quoted as saying: “I’m lucky I arrived at home where I had a spare wheelchair. What if I were a tourist arriving in Singapore? How could I have continued my holiday without a working chair”. DPA’s Board Member Ms Judy Wee was also quoted on her thoughts about making the travel industry more facilitative to the wide range of disabilities: “It will make travel more accessible to new markets, including a growing cohort of elderly travellers.”. DPA was also highlighted as part of Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Online Resources guide.
(Article: “Disabled and ready to see the world”)

– On 30 November 2018, DPA’s Executive Director Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills wrote a response to the Annie Ee case (“Couple ‘tortured’ intellectually disabled waitress, who died after 8 months of abuse”, 27 Nov 2017). In her response, Dr Marissa highlighted the distressing situation that women with disabilities face, and how while organisations in Singapore work to end violence against women, a whole-of-society effort is needed in identifying potential cases of abuse. Dr Marissa also mentioned that important role that disability organisations play when equipping their clients and beneficiaries with the skills and told to identify and report potential signs of abuse.
(Article: “Whole-of-society effort needed to fight abuse”)

October 2017

– On 18 October 2017, DPA’s Executive Director Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills wrote a response to forum letter which suggested a special area for wheelchairs to enter trains. The original letter mentioned that preventive measures such as a special waiting lane for persons with disabilities, could be introduced so that persons with disabilities do not face challenges when trying to board the train. In her response, Dr Marissa highlighted that SMRT should implement a safe process for assisting wheelchair users who have challenges boarding the train. Additionally, we need to also be mindful of not creating a segregation of persons with disabilities by introducing “priority or special assistance cabins”.
(Article: “Do more to support commuters with mobility issues.”)

September 2017

– On 05 September 2017, in light of Mr Tan Chuan-Jin’s new appointment as Speaker of Parliament, DPA’s President, Mr Nicholas Aw was quoted as saying: “Mr Tan invited me to lunch to talk about disability issues here, and he shared with me his personal experience of trying to navigate pavements using a wheelchair. His frank sharing about how difficult it is in some areas showed me that he’s willing to admit when there is more work to be done. He’s also willing to try new things and learn more by doing, even if it sometimes opens him to criticism, which is very refreshing.”. The report also goes on to state: “Mr Aw said Mr Tan’s varied portfolio in various ministries would give him a wide range of experience to tap on when facilitating debates. “His no-nonsense attitude will also come in handy when the debate goes off topic..”
(Article: “Tan Chuan-Jin a man ‘with a heart for poor, elderly and those from broken families”

– On 20 September 2017, in a regional broadcast on the exclusion of persons with disabilities from mainstream society, and a look into how companies, schools and public spaces can be more inclusive, featured DPA Member Timothy Ng. The short documentary highlighted the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, and the work that DPA does, with a special mention of DPA’s Inclusion Ambassadors’ Programme. DPA volunteer, Roy Tan, from Ngee Ann Polytechnic was also featured, and mentioned the importance of DPA’s programmes, and interaction workshops. (Link: “Enabling Inclusion” https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/videos/enabling-inclusion-for-people-with-disabilities-at-workplaces-9234522)

August 2017

– On 04 August 2017, DPA’s President Mr Nicholas Aw was quoted in a Channel NewsAsia article: “The reason for this, I think, shock or anger, is because everyone was taken by surprise”, “No one saw it coming. If, before they implemented this policy, they had called the VWOs to say ‘guys, can we explain to you what’s going to happen’, the VWOs would be able to disseminate the information to their members.”. Mr Aw also acknowledged that while there have been consultations, it was “perhaps not enough”.
(Article: “MSF clarifies changes to car park label scheme for those with disabilities.”)

– On 04 August 2017, DPA’s President Mr Nicholas Aw was quoted in a Today Online article when he mentioned that about six of DPA’s members had voiced unhappiness over the rule change. Former DPA President (and current DPA Board Member) Mr Leo Chen Ian was quoted as saying: “We want to address the issue of helping those who can’t walk far distances… Everybody needs a shorter distance to walk to where they are”. Current DPA member Mr Richard Kuppusamy was also quoted in the article: “Parking (for us) is not a privilege but a necessity… Fundamentally, the handicapped parking system is broken, where the disabled have to contend against one another over who is more deserving.”
(Article: “MSF clarifies changes to parking scheme for disabled.”

– On 14 August 2017, a number of DPA Members were quoted in a Straits Times article: Current DPA Member Mr Richard Kuppusamy was quoted: “If I try to park in a regular space and then someone parks next to me, when I return from the supermarket, I will not be able to get into my car.”, “There is a bigger picture here. It is about how society treats others and those with disabilities. People cannot just park for 15 minutes and think it is fine. Your 15 minutes is not more valuable than mine. Driving for disabled people and parking in that space is not a privilege; it is a functional necessity”. DPA President Mr Nicholas Aw was also quoted: “Sadly, things are still largely the same. There are so many people without the labels for the disabled who park in accessible spaces for a short while to run errands. There are also caregivers who park in the space without ferrying anybody with a disability.”, “Clamping the car would be more inconvenient. People may be able to pay fines, but they will think twice about wasting time trying to get their vehicle back,”. In addition to being featured in a video by Straits Times as part of the article, DPA Vice-President Ms Judy Wee was quoted in the article: “Many times I have seen abuse, but things have improved over the years. People just have to understand that if they use the space without actually needing it, they are depriving someone who needs it badly.”.
(Article: “Misuse of reserved spaces still a problem despite heavier penalties.”)

July 2017

On 06 July 2017, DPA’s Executive Director, Dr Marissa was quoted in a Straits Times article: “People sometimes say that we are moving towards political correctness and we should just focus on doing the actual work, but terminology can have a much deeper impact than you think,”, “In using the term ‘welfare’, it does not just affect the users but also the professionals in the field. It does not change their mindset regarding collaborating with users to try to find out what they want instead of just providing a service to a recipient of charity.”, “Terminology is the first step, then we need to change how we do things to align with the vision.”
(Article: “Drop VWO label, say players in social service field, use social service organisations instead.”)

May 2017

On 30 May, DPA Member was quoted in a Today Online article: “I want this to be a safe harbour providing jobs for all of us, and I want this business to continue to grow into an institution that helps in creating jobs for special-needs people, so that they are engaged in a meaningful way and have a means to support their family.”
(Article: “Quietly supplying fun to Singapore’s kids for 17 years.”)

April 2017

Dr. Marissa, DPA’s Executive Director, spoke to Today Online about how public discourse on disability can be changed so that it becomes more inclusive. She was quoted in the article on 9 April: “People with disabilities rarely have the opportunity to create the terminology or the language that’s used to speak about them … It’s about giving people a say, which hasn’t been the case until quite recently.”
(Article: “Changing how Singaporeans talk about disability, one word at a time.”)

March 2017

On 5 March, Dr. Marissa, DPA’s Executive Director, was quoted in a Straits Times article: “Not having grown up together in school, many are encountering persons with disabilities for the first time in the workplace.”
(Article: “Call to integrate people with disabilities early.”)