Wednesday, 8 October 2014

It's about the kids with special needs

WHILE last Saturday's incident at Hong Lim Park is regrettable, public attention on the issue needs realignment

Children with special needs deserve society's understanding and compassion, but many comments seem to cast them as pawns in a political blame game. We should focus instead on a more critical question: How can we make Singapore a more accommodating place for children with special needs?

Children in mainstream schools are covered by the Compulsory Education Act. However, children with special needs are exempted from this, which affects them in two fundamental ways.

First, the early intervention and education that can make a lifelong difference to them are not guaranteed. Such services help people with special needs to become more self-sustaining, independent and integrated throughout their lifetimes.

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Kids with special needs have right to education

MR WEE Yeong Wei mentioned the exclusion of children with special needs from compulsory education ("It's about the kids with special needs"; last Saturday).

Eleven years ago, the Asian Women's Welfare Association initiated the setting up of the Joint Committee for Compulsory Education for All. All voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) that ran schools for children with special needs, except one, took part in this project.

A comprehensive survey was conducted and it revealed that a clear majority of parents wanted their children with disabilities to be included in compulsory education.


Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr Teo Ser Luck, chastised Mr Roy Ngerng and Ms Han Hui Hui for frightening the children with special needs during the protest at Hong Lim Park on Saturday. He said: "The children are my utmost concern." His party mates wasted no time in piling it on, waxing eloquent about how special needs children need to be protected.

Below is a compilation taken from the blogsite Singapore Notes of what the PAP MPs said:
  • Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin: “I am appalled. We now heckle special needs children? Vile. Total and absolute disgrace.”
  • Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing: “To cause alarm and distress to special needs children, and disrupting their routine cannot be right no matter how righteous you think your own cause may be.”
  • MP Janil Puthucheary: “No excuse for bad behaviour, but especially not directed at kids.”
  • MP Zaqy Mohamad: “A pity that special needs children were heckled by protesters at event by YMCA at Hong Lim Park.”
  • MP Ang Wei Neng: “There was no good reason for the bloggers to heckle children with special needs and hurl vulgarities.”
  • MP Tin Pei Ling: “What have these special needs children done to deserve being heckled down?”
If these MPs cared so much for children with special needs, it would save everyone a lot of trouble if they amended the Compulsory Education Act (CEA).


Teo Ser Luck, the guest of honour at the YMCA charity event at Hong Lim Park on Saturday, wrote on his facebook that Roy’s apology is “a step forward”. He also decided that it was appropriate to apologise also for the trouble he may have caused.

He explained that he felt that part of the inconvenience was caused because he was at the YMCA event as much of the protesters’ anger was actually directed at him. He wrote that he was sorry for this. He also took the opportunity to explain the photo which has been circulating online showing himself and some participants at the YMCA event taking a selfie in front of the stage instead of paying attention to and showing their respect for the special needs children who were at that time performing.

While he did explain the reason for taking the selfie and later explained in the comments section of his facebook post that the children were of his utmost concern, he did not apologise for ignoring the children to take a selfie. He said that he usually obliges when requested to take photos and he did it for the youths that he was taking photos with.


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Hong Lim Park Heckler, Han Hui Hui and Roy Ngerng will be charged on Monday…But it is the side story that will shock you - Odd One Out

Among the unison condemnation of Han Hui Hui and Roy Ngnerng on the Hong Lim Park heckling incident, One single opposing voice stood out and provoked more anger among netizen.

This person said
“Han Hui Hui and Roy took real tangible actions and sacrificed themselves for Singaporeans. I am truly grateful and appreciative of their effort to speak truth to tyranny. They have shown me there are still courageous people who will do the right thing in a country where everyone is afraid of intimidation. Let the PAP hired trolls insult, your conscience is clear and you have my respect like Nelson Mandela. Please stand for elections one day and serve the people with the same indomitable spirit. One day when we get back our CPF, you will be legend. Thinking ahead of our times, you are the real reason why Singapore progress.

Were Mentally-Handicapped Children used as Cannon Fodder in YMCA’s Political Game? The Signs Point to ‘Yes’
What was the goal, YMCA?

Holding a carnival at Speaker’s Corner, coincidentally during the period where a series of Return Our CPF protests have been planned — was YMCA gearing up for the clash we’ve seen, with the poor, unsuspecting children as cannon fodder?

It’s easy for those who weren’t at Speaker’s Corner on Saturday (Sept 27) to slam the Return Our CPF protestors. A picture paints a thousand words, and the pictures which emerged from the day paint the protestors in a very bad light. The story we’ve been fed through the mass media, the story about “heckling”, that’s half the story. The other half of the “heckling” has been conveniently buried. Looking at the day’s turn of events in context, many questions arise as to whether YMCA chose to hold their carnival at Speaker’s Corner to disrupt the Return Our CPF protests.

Let’s look at factors at play:


Shame on you Teo Ser luck and all you despicable PAPs grassroots leaders who hijacked the YMCA event and used our children as pawns to score political points. No, the protesters in no way scared our children. It was clearly a set-up and GOD is our witness to this shameful act. As the father of one of the children, I can clearly testify the following facts.

1) The children were stressed by the loud sound system, which we suspect was done on purpose to disrupt the CPF protest. The show initially was supposed to begin at 12noon to 2pm. Then at the last minute, we were told the time is changed to 2pm to 4 pm. I think to clash with the CPF protest, they changed it to 4pm to 6pm on the same day.

2) The protesters speeches with a small PA system were in no way disrupting our show. Quite a few of us went over to listen to their speeches. They were in no way hate speeches, they were merely explaining how the government had lied to us regarding the CPF and how we deserved better interests for our CPF funds.

Lien Foundation explores preschool for mainstream, special-needs children
The idea has been welcomed by experts, preschool operators and parents of special needs children

The Lien Foundation is looking at setting up a preschool and playground where mainstream children and those with special needs will be able to learn and play together.

Believed to be the first of its kind here, the idea was welcomed by experts, preschool operators and parents of special needs children, even as they acknowledged the considerable potential challenges such a school could face: Hiring sufficient qualified manpower, developing a curriculum that would suit varied needs, and addressing parents’ concerns.

Details will only be released at the end of the year, but TODAY understands that the foundation will be working with a non-profit preschool operator develop a teaching environment and a physical space that is catered to both special needs and mainstream pre-schoolers.

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How can we make Singapore a more accommodating place for children with special needs?

Are current levels of integration satisfactory?

More integration at school level will be good. The more mainstream students are made aware of the conditions of kids with special needs, the more they will understand them.

Siti Nor'aini A S - Free therapy sessions provided by the Government to special needs children will ensure that all of them get early intervention, regardless of their families' financial status. Free training for caregivers will also help them to better cope with meltdowns and situations. Teachers in the special needs services also deserve more in their remuneration packages.

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MOE can take on larger role in special education

THE Disabled People's Association (DPA) agrees with the points raised by Mr Wee Yeong Wei ("It's about the kids with special needs"; last Saturday) and Mrs Leaena Tambyah ("Kids with special needs have right to education"; Tuesday).

We also agree that children with disabilities should not be automatically exempted from the Compulsory Education Act.

Although more can be done to improve the educational opportunities for children with disabilities, it is important to acknowledge what is currently being done by the Government.

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Special education can't be 'one size fits all'

The Ministry of Education (MOE) seeks to bring out the best in every child and shares the desire for all our children to receive a good education. In doing so, we cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach, especially for students with special needs, who have a broad and diverse range of needs.

Our aim is to ensure that we are able to educate all our children in a setting that is most educationally appropriate for them.

For children with milder special educational needs, MOE supports our schools with teachers trained in special needs, trained allied educators (learning and behavioural support), specialised remediation programmes, and school-based itinerant support services provided by voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs). MOE psychologists also work with schools to provide consultation and support these students.

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How Inclusive Is Our Society?

Currently, our Compulsory Education Act ensures that every child attends at least six years of primary school. However, the subsidiary legislation specifically exempts children with physical or intellectual disabilities from compulsory education. While this may have been gazetted for practical reasons, seen from the Convention standpoint – it is a form of discrimination. The current situation is that special needs children in Singapore are not enjoying the same legal right to education as other children.

It is largely left to voluntary welfare organizations to educate special needs children. The Government provides some subsidies, but parents of special needs children still bear a much heavier financial burden than other parents. Apart from the additional expenses parents will spend associated with a special needs child, school fees are means-tested, unlike in the mainstream schools.

Early intervention is critical for special needs children to mitigate the effects of their disabilities. But there are waiting lists for schools and therapies, suggesting a resource issue and losing precious time in the child’s formative years.

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The Singapore Daily

Heckling YMCA:

– Tweety: #returnourCPF
– The Singapore Beacon: Antiestablishmentarianism
– The Singapore Beacon: Freedom Is Not Free
– Aligheri2014: Of Law and Order
– The Singapore Beacon: In Search Of An Idiot’s Paradise
– Singapore Notes: More Fun Than A Barrel Of Monkeys
– Osman Sulaiman: Our police force a bully?
– Tots of a Cynical Investor: What Hui Hui & WP have in common
– Just Speaking My Mind: Disappointed with Our Police Force
– My Singapore News: The silence of the sheep
– Singapore Notes: Good Cop, Bad Cop
– The Nanyang Chronicle: Dissecting the Hong Lim Park fracas
– Tots of Cynical Investor: No need to change Hong Leong Park rules
– Second November: Downright Embarrassing
– Evergreen Bamboo: The Chee Defense of HLP Commotion
– Singapore 2B: And a child shall lead them
– Salt * Wet * Fish: Growing pains and collateral damage
– Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Roy’s & New Citizen H3 should go to HK
– Singapore in General: Missing: The authoritative voice of NParks
– Musings, thoughts, life.: Singapore’s dissidents…too self-righteous?
– Barisan Kuning: Learning Points
– PetuniaLee™: Need to Fight for Freedom meh?
– Chemical Generation Singapore: The CPF Protest and Bad Manners
– The Temple Of Thoughts 3: Roy & Freedom vs YMCA & Special Needs Kids
– Five Stars and a Moon: Return of The Gorblok – Part 2
– Iron Bowl: YMCA fiasco
– Dewdrop Notes 露语: Human Shields & Political Pawns
– Cheryl Marie Tay: Come, We Clap For Them
– Basis Of Singaporean Spirit: Hong Lim Park Crash – Who is Right?
– My Singapore News: Teo Ser Luck apologised on Facebook
– Singapore Notes: Our Very Own Zapruder Clip
– Mindspur: Fiasco @ Hong Lim Park
– The Lycan Times: The Fracas at Hong Lim Park
– Five Stars and a Moon: Return of The Gorblok – Part 1
– Blogging for Myself: Ropes or Petard for Roy Ngerng
– Onthesannyside: What if it had turned out uglier?
– Singapore Notes: Suffer The Little Children

Heckling YMCA
Several people asked to aid in probe into Hong Lim Park protest
A tale of 2 protests – Hong Kong & Hong Lim Park
It's about the kids with special needs
The YMCA Vs #ReturnMyCPF Fracas