Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities Awards Ceremony 2016 – Speech by Mr Frans Eusman

Mr Ang Wei Neng, Member of Parliament, Jurong GRC,

Ms Chia Yong Yong, President of SPD,

Distinguished Guests,


Good morning! Disability is an issue close to my heart. My wife is a lawyer but in the past few years has followed her passion to pursue a Masters in Learning Disabilities. She now volunteers her time to help people with learning disabilities.

So I am delighted to be here this morning as we mark the 13th year of awarding the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities.

This scholarship is the Foundation’s long-standing and flagship programme that underpins our giving back to Singapore. We have to date supported 34 scholars and committed over S$1 million. The Foundation believes that investing in long–term sustainable programmes is necessary to achieve desired social outcomes. Hence, we have partnered the SPD for over 12 years on this scholarship to plug the gap in the availability of scholarships for youths with disabilities. We do this because we want to recognise and help outstanding youths with disabilities to pursue a university education and fulfil their fullest potential.

Other than academic achievements, the potential of our youths can manifest in other ways. One good example is Ms Yip Pin Xiu, who most of you know won 2 golds at the recent Rio Paralympic. I am proud to learn that Ms Yip was our 2013 APBF scholar. She deferred her final-year studies to pursue her dreams at the Rio games and is now an inspiration to many people. We will continue to support her as she returns to complete her university studies this year.

Hence, it is no surprise that the Foundation has agreed to support the scholarship awards for another three years to 2019. Our continued support is testament to the SPD for their dedication and professionalism in managing the scholarship programme. I thank the SPD team and look forward to more years of partnership. Today also marks an importance milestone as we go beyond just awarding scholarship. The Foundation will support two new programmes developed by the SPD in addition to the scholarship.

First, the Youth Development Programme or YDP aims to develop not only the scholarship recipients but also other youths with disabilities to become all-rounded leaders and enable them to make meaningful contributions to society as well as raise awareness of disability issues in Singapore.

The Specialised Case Management Programme or SCMP is the second programme that aims to address complex and multiple issues encountered by persons with disabilities in Singapore. The SCMP will provide timely assistance to persons with disabilities through casework management and counselling.

We envision that through these two new programmes, we can benefit more persons with disabilities as we work towards building a more inclusive society in Singapore.

This morning is indeed a joyous occasion for our three scholarship recipients, who have demonstrated excellent academic performance and a strong commitment to advocate the disability cause.

One of the scholars today is Ms Sarah Lim. Sarah was diagnosed with dyslexia and motor coordination difficulties when she was 7 years old. A reassessment when she was 11 revealed that Sarah also has sensory processing disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. Despite these difficulties, Sarah excelled in her studies and emerged as the top student at Catholic Junior College.

I am heartened to learn that Sarah wants to pursue a doctorate in human rights and ethics so that she can be an effective advocate for those who needs help. Inspired by her father who taught her to help the less fortunate, Sarah wants to work for SPD after graduation – doing research on how Singapore’s social and political climate affect people with disabilities. Sarah is also an active volunteer at the Singapore Cheshire Home since 2009. She visits the residents regularly to chat with them and teaches them to paint. We want to encourage more youths with disabilities, like Sarah, to step up and be confident to contribute back to society in their own way.

Ms Teo Zi Lin, another of our scholarship recipient, is hearing-impaired and wears hearing aids on both ears. Ms Teo hopes to be a role model for the disability community, by encouraging others with disabilities not to give up in their pursuits of success. With strong resilience and determination, Ms Teo topped her course and was the valedictorian of her graduation cohort at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Ms Teo is now a first-year student pursuing a degree in Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. She hopes to be an ambassador to encourage others with hearing impairments to wear their hearing aids and not to be afraid of being discriminated or ridiculed. I am confident she will be an excellent ambassador and role model.

You will hear the inspirational story of Mr Joshua Ong, our third scholarship recipient later this morning.

As we celebrate the outstanding achievements of our scholars, we must also acknowledge the unwavering support of their caregivers, family members, teachers and friends who are here with us this morning. No doubts, they have been a pillar of strength throughout the scholars’ journey and will continue to do so in the future.

Last but not least, my heartiest congratulations to our three scholars and their families! Thank you and I wish you a pleasant morning ahead.