Inclusive NDP paves the way for unity

Spectators and performers perform national day songs using sign language during NDP 2016 at Singapore Sports Hub on August 9.
Spectators and performers perform national day songs using sign language during NDP 2016 at Singapore Sports Hub on August 9. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

In August 2014, I wrote to the Forum page, lamenting the lack of opportunity for our hearing-impaired citizens to listen to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech in tandem with other Singaporeans, due to non-provision of subtitles or signing ("Hearing-impaired left out"; Aug 22, 2014).

It was particularly unfortunate then as that year, Institute of Technical Education graduate William Tay was specially mentioned and congratulated by PM Lee for overcoming hearing impairment to succeed in life ("Plucky top students lauded by PM"; Aug 18, 2014).

This year, National Day celebrations have brought great delight to me and many others who wish to see a more inclusive Singapore, starting with PM Lee's National Day message being subtitled for the benefit of people with hearing disabilities.

This was followed by a very heartwarming National Day Parade, which not only included the participation of many Singaporeans with special needs, but importantly, also had a segment where everyone was encouraged to sign the National Day song, Count On Me, Singapore, together. 

These are steps in the right direction for us to bond, regardless of our abilities or disabilities, putting into action what might otherwise be just lip service when we sing "marilah kita bersatu" (let us unite) in the National Anthem.

I now look forward to a National Day Rally speech and other events in future which will continue to foster, in the words of PM Lee, "the iron resolve to hold together" ("Unity key to the future, says PM Lee"; Tuesday).

Agnes Sng Hwee Lee (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'Inclusive NDP paves the way for unity'. Print Edition | Subscribe