Mr. See Cher, President of the Society for the Physically Disabled,
Ladies & Gentlemen,
1. I am very happy to join you at today’s launch of the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) Ability Enterprise.
Good Economic Progress
2. This year, as we celebrate our 40th year as a nation, there is much to be thankful for, and even more to look forward to. In the last two years, the employment situation in Singapore has improved significantly and job opportunities have increased. In 2004, the economy grew by 8.4% and 71,000 jobs were created. In the first half of this year, we achieved 4% growth with 49,500 jobs created. The jobs growth is double that over the same period in 2004, and the highest in four and a half years. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Singapore economy is expected to grow by 3.5 to 4.5% this year.
People with Physical Disabilities Contributing to Society
3. Our nation’s progress cannot be measured only on the basis of level of economic growth achieved, but also by the extent by which we care for and value our fellow citizens. The physically disabled are an integral part of our society. They too deserve every opportunity to realise their potential and contribute to the building of our nation. They should enjoy the opportunity to be trained and developed so that they can be gainfully employed As long as they are willing to learn, adapt and pick up new skills, they need not be left behind.
4. Take 57-year old master craftsmen Mr Gan Boon Leong who has been working at SPD for the past 33 years. Paralysed in both legs, he joined SPD as he could not find employment then. Now, he has grown to become the overall production supervisor at the Ability Enterprise, and oversees a team of workers. With the help of SPD, he is able to earn a living and be financially independent, with the means to support his family. Mr. Gan is a shining example of how people with physical disabilities are able to contribute to society.
Restructuring SPD’s Workshops into an Integrated Centre
5. People with physical disability need a little more assistance to enable them to be economically and socially independent and contributing members of our society. I commend SPD’s tireless efforts in serving this group by providing employment and a means of income for them, as well as preparing them for gainful employment. Its move to restructure its training workshops to form the SPD Ability Enterprise is a significant step towards enhancing the employability of the physically disabled. The integrated training and employment centre will provide better training resources and help to equip the physically disabled with skills to give them more employment opportunities and better prospects.
6. SPD was also recently awarded the Certified On-The-Job Training Centre status by the ITE. This newly conferred status is timely, in the light of SPD’s restructuring and renewed commitment to train their workers and improve productivity. This certification, I am sure, will help you in your future work.
Contractors, private sector partnerships and their contributions
7. I also want to commend the efforts of employers and contractors who have been working with SPD. It is through their strong support that many of the disabled workers can be sustained and find financial independence. This new centre will help to enhance the skills of the disabled workers and improve productivity and operations, to manage the jobs.
8. In closing, I hope that SPD will continue to grow and expand its programmes for the disabled to better serve them, and that valued contractors and partners will continue to give SPD their full support.
9. It gives me great pleasure to officially launch the SPD Ability Enterprise. I wish you an enjoyable and meaningful time here. Thank you.