Even as Asean pushes towards greater economic integration, its 10 members will keep a sharp eye on ensuring that its societies are inclusive, and that people with disabilities have equal opportunities.
The Asean Enabling Masterplan 2025, which is expected to be adopted by leaders at next month's summit, will guide Asean countries on programmes that encourage inclusive hiring, job redesign, and training for disabled people, said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee yesterday.
As Asean nations push towards becoming smart cities, attention will be paid to improve accessibility and universal design to help disabled people navigate in the city and lead fulfilling lives, he added.
Mr Lee was speaking at a press conference after the 2nd Asean Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council Ministerial Retreat at the Shangri-La Hotel.The retreat focused on the proposed Asean Enabling Masterplan 2025. Singapore is the Asean chair this year.
The masterplan, which represents Asean's commitment to becoming an inclusive region, is a comprehensive blueprint seeking to empower disabled people in areas such as healthcare, education, welfare.
Leading the effort in developing the masterplan over the past two years has been a task force co-chaired by the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and the Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development, said Mr Lee.
"We hope to see the Asean Enabling Masterplan 2025 help put in place seamless connectivity and accessibility for all Asean citizens.
"There is still much that Singapore can learn from the disability landscape in our neighbouring Asean member states," he said.
Plans are afoot to put the masterplan's guidelines into action. Thailand, who is the Asean chair next year, will establish an Asean training centre for social work and social welfare, said its Minister of Social Development and Human Security, General Anantaporn Kanjanarat.
Yesterday, Mr Lee also chaired the 20th meeting of the ASCC Council. The ASCC is one of three pillars of the Asean Community, which also includes the Asean Political-Security Community and the Asean Economic Community.
In a speech, Mr Lee highlighted various initiatives undertaken by Singapore, such as hosting an inaugural Asean e-sports and music festival and the upcoming Asean Youth Fellowship programme, to be launched next month.