On 7th December, DPA’s Vice President Ms Peggy Yee was invited to share her thoughts about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at a closed door session organised by the European Union delegation to Singapore. Peggy was part of a panel that looked at the rights of people with disabilities in Singapore. She also took the opportunity to talk about how the UPR is design to prompt, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights. She also discussed DPA’s remit in ensuring that challenges relating to social inequality and lack of cohesion through the lack of inclusive education, and by extension, a lack of access to employment opportunities was addressed.
She spoke about access to Education & Employment, both of which are articles in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which Singapore signed on 30th November 2012. Peggy spoke about how the Singapore Government has worked hard to improve integration and support for persons with disabilities through its local implementation plan for the CRPD called the Enabling Masterplans, and although these plans physical infrastructure and accessibility have improved, we have an accessible public transport system and many financial support schemes and subsidies, yet, students with moderate to severe disabilities are not included under the Compulsory Education Act (CAE).
On equal and inclusive employment, Peggy highlight the absence of an Anti-Discrimination Act also encourages inequality and undue discrimination in the employment of persons with disabilities.
Lastly, on the issue of healthcare, DPA’s Vice President took the opportunity to highlight the Singapore Government’s reservation on Article 25e (Health) that propagates the notion that people with disabilities are adequately covered by the national insurance scheme. However, this is not the case. The lack of weight by the Government in underwriting decisions of private insurers leaves private insurance companies free to deny coverage of people with disabilities. This affects their employment opportunities as employers use the lack of insurance coverage as a reason not to employ a person with disability.
Ms Peggy closed off by stating that it was due to these current challenges in providing a right to education, employment, and healthcare, that DPA will continue to raise issues that affect persons with disabilities in as many conventions and human rights mechanisms as possible. This is also to spread the word that disability should not be, and cannot be dealt with in isolation. It is a cross-cutting issue that affects groups such as children, and women across socio-economic classes, in every single country. And it is for that reason that DPA continues to make an effort to contribute to as many reports as possible.