3,000 don purple spectacles for a cause

Donning purple spectacles, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong takes a selfie with his wife Ho Ching as they join participants at The Purple Parade held in Hong Lim Park. More than 7,000 people attended the event yesterday.
Donning purple spectacles, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong takes a selfie with his wife Ho Ching as they join participants at The Purple Parade held in Hong Lim Park. More than 7,000 people attended the event yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

If you visit Ion Orchard's Uniqlo store, you may be greeted cheerfully by retail associate Jason Goh. The 24-year-old was recently given the Best in Customer Service award by the Japanese fashion chain, where he has worked since August 2012.

Mr Goh, who was a member of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds), told The Sunday Times that his job has given him a sense of purpose, and he is happy to have made many new friends. He is one of seven faces highlighted for the third Purple Parade, a movement which supports inclusion and celebrates the abilities of persons with special needs.

Lending his support yesterday was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who joined in the festivities in Hong Lim Park by wearing purple spectacles together with some 3,000 others.

He also watched the 85-member Purple Symphony - an all-inclusive orchestra comprising musicians with and without special needs - in its first public performance. It will perform at the closing ceremony of next month's Asean Para Games.

Mr Lee also witnessed a contingent march past that featured 35 groups such as Team Singapore athletes at the Asean Para Games and members of the five community development councils.

"We are building an inclusive society in Singapore where everybody has a place, where everybody can make a contribution," Mr Lee said.

"Whether you have special abilities, whether you are an ordinary person... you all have something to contribute and in a different way, each one of us is somehow special."

More than 7,000 people attended the event, which was supported by 106 organisations. Also there were former Nominated MP Chia Yong Yong, who has peroneal muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, and actor Chew Chor Meng, who suffers from a motor neuron condition called Kennedy's Disease.

Said Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of Central Singapore District and adviser to the Purple Parade Steering Committee: "We want to ensure there is equal access to opportunities in life such as education, healthcare, transport, housing and social interactions."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 01, 2015, with the headline '3,000 don purple spectacles for a cause'. Print Edition | Subscribe