Protect the vulnerable from job discrimination

Back in the mediaeval days, people with mental illnesses were thought to be possessed by devils and were cast out from society. Today, with modern science, we know that is not true, but we continue to cast them out from society and employment ("Not so simple to hire those with mental illness" by Mr Sum Siew Kee; Tuesday).

A lack of understanding of some of the common medical conditions means that they are lumped together and treated as some form of untreatable mental illness. Epilepsy and attention deficiency are neurological disorders. Schizophrenia is a mental illness. Such people are suffering from a medical condition and many suffer in silence, for fear of getting ostracised by society.

Most of these medical conditions can be controlled by medication, and a patient can function as any normal person.

We all know about Dr John Nash, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on game theory, despite suffering from schizophrenia. He managed to do it because of the strong support he received from his colleagues and family.

However, there are no laws in Singapore to protect people with medical conditions, and companies continue to discriminate against them in their hiring and promotion practices.

Unless there are laws passed to protect such people from discrimination because of their medical conditions, they will continue to be treated as outcasts of society and be denied meaningful employment and life.

Patrick Tan Siong Kuan