After visiting Mdm Sarah Tan yesterday, I popped by JEM to visit Mr Png Lye Heng, the deaf cleaner who was reprimanded publicly at a foodcourt last week, and management. He was in good spirits and gestured to me that he was no longer bothered by the incident. I also told him that I was impressed with his positive spirit, and that his act of magnanimity is something that we could all learn from. We (as in my colleague!) managed to communicate by penning questions in Chinese on a piece of paper, while he gestured with his replies.
We can all still learn to treat Singaporeans with special needs and disabilities with more empathy. An attitude survey conducted by the NCSS Singapore showed that the public displayed social distances towards persons with sensory or physical impairment, as well as autism and intellectual impairment. More than one third of the public also said that they would not employ persons with disabilities if they were an employer. However, the survey also noted that with more frequent contact, the public’s attitudes towards persons with disabilities could be improved. And this is why we’ve launched the Disability Awareness Campaign (http://seethetrueme.sg/) – hopefully, we will all learn to see persons with disabilities for who they are as individuals, and how they too can contribute to society, instead of the disability they have.
To employers who hire persons with disabilities like Mr Png – a big thank you, and I sincerely hope that you would continue with your hiring practices. They have assured me they will. If you would like to consider hiring persons with disabilities but unsure of where to start, we have available resources for employers on disability employment on SG Enable’s Disability Empolyment Portal for you to tap on: http://employment.sgenable.sg/
As for Mr Png, he’d told me that he has gotten some job offers after deciding to leave the current food court. I’ll also be getting my colleagues to follow up with him, to see if he would need additional assistance in other areas, and if we could help.
This is a regrettable incident but let’s hope that it has also lend focus on overcoming these mindsets. And for us all to be conscious as we interact with others.
(Btw….whether you have flu or not, or if a person is disabled or not, one shouldn’t have behaved in the way the woman did. Respect our fellow workers.)