Ensure inclusiveness display not just lip service

I was heartened to see that inclusiveness was a major theme of this year's National Day Parade ("Inclusive NDP paves the way for unity" by Ms Agnes Sng Hwee Lee, "No Red Lions, fighter jets, but all heart" by Mr Tan Wei Zhi, and "Dazzling display of lights, colours" by Mr Bennie Cheok; all published on Thursday).

To have this theme of inclusiveness emphasised at a national event should send a clear signal to all Singaporeans that we need to work to build a more inclusive society, and to learn to embrace everyone, including those with disabilities as well as the disadvantaged.

Indeed, Singapore might have much to be proud of in terms of our economic progress; our performance in global rankings is also outstanding.

However, we must remember that numbers and rankings are not all that define our society. Instead, we must never forget about the different segments of society in our constant race to the top.

Many times, in our rush and flurry of busyness, we forget to stop and show concern to others around us.

This National Day Parade was a timely reminder for us to stop and pause, to take a moment to reflect on whether we have been doing enough to be an inclusive society.

The decision to include those with special needs in this year's National Day Parade is a symbolic move.

My hope is that Singaporeans will not merely pay lip service, but will show through their actions that they truly care for others in our society, just like how Singaporeans present at the parade hand-signed the lyrics of the songs together.

Hopefully, by the time Singapore celebrates SG100, we will have more to celebrate than our economic achievements, such as how far we have come in building a more compassionate society, one that truly accepts, and not just tolerates, everyone, regardless of whether or not they have special needs or disabilities.

It is only when we care for one another that we can stay united in times of adversity, and I sincerely hope that our society can move in the right direction to achieve this goal.

Lim Si Yin (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2016, with the headline 'Ensure inclusiveness display not just lip service'. Print Edition | Subscribe